Ângela Ferreira: South Facing
From May 7 to July 30, 2017, Johannesburg Art Gallery will present South Facing by Mozambique artist Ângela Ferreira first.
The exhibition includes recent and previously unseen work, as well as a newly commissioned work by Ferreira that responds to the Gallery’s Meyer Pienaar extension. Built in 1989 during the final years of apartheid, the extension was intended to create a more accessible public threshold between the original neo-classical colonial-era building and the adjacent urban park. Inherent structural problems resulted in Jag’s temporary closure in 2017, providing an opportunity to re-examine the relationship between an institution once regarded as a symbol of elitism with its emergent multicultural post-apartheid urban context.
Continuing an oeuvre of architecturally-responsive critical artworks, the commission draws on the visual history of the construction processes of the extension, particularly the contentious barrel-like copper-vaulted roofs, extending Ferreira’s ongoing investigations into colonial-era mining in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Stone Free, 2012, and the Entrer dans la Mine, 2013).
Ferreira’s work is concerned with the ongoing impact of colonialism and post-colonialism in the present, particularly in the Global South. Her primary area of investigation has been the translation of modernism in the African-colonial context, and the complex social, aesthetic and architectural legacies of the modernist project. Ferreira’s practice draws its visual criticality from her dual African Portuguese identity, and the resulting body of work is rooted in South Africa, Mozambique and Portugal. The Johannesburg exhibition connects these three spaces, and provides an opportunity for audiences to engage with the artist’s multi-disciplinary research-based practice.
Curated by Amy Watson, the exhibition includes, among other works, Werdmuller Centre, 2010, which considers the utopian political idealism of South African modernist vocabulary of the 1970’s; Maison Tropicale (footprints), 2007, which traces the history of the French designer Jean Prouvé’s housing project and investigates the ways in which European modernism adapted or failed to adapt to the realities of the African continent; and Sites and Services, 1991 – 1992, which references the racialised provision of infrastructure under apartheid.
The exhibition is accompanied with a catalogue of newly commissioned texts by Jürgen Bock, Alda Costa and Rafael Mouzinho, Pamila Gupta, Noëleen Murray and Amy Watson.
Ângela Ferreira, born 1958 in Maputo, Mozambique, holds a masters in fine art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Her work is concerned with the ongoing impact of colonialism and post-colonialism on contemporary society, an investigation that is conducted through in-depth research and the distillation of ideas into concise and resonant forms. Ferreira represented Portugal at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, and her work has featured in exhibitions such as Projeto SAAL: Arquitetura eParticipação, 1974-1976, Museu de Serralves, Oporto (2014); Às Margens dos Mares, SESC Pinheiros, São Paulo (2015); Things Fall Apart, Calvert 22, London (2016); Boca, Centre Régional de la Photographie, France (2016); and Underground Cinemas & Towering Radios, Galeria da Índia, Lisbon (2016).
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