South African Cultural Observatory

Industry News and Highlights

BY 10.12.21

Cape Town-Based Artist Andrea Du Plessis Scoops The 2021 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition

The Cape Town-based artist, Andrea du Plessis (40) has been announced as the winner of the 2021 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition.

Du Plessis won the coveted title for her mixed media work Paloceae Lupantozoa. The work is inspired by Martin Johnson Heade’s “Orchids and Hummingbirds” series. The artwork consists of a painting created through the traditional oil-on-canvas technique that can also be experienced as a multi-sensory animated video. The video component of the artwork is accessed via an Augmented Reality (AR) animation of the oil painting.

By downloading an App on their digital device and pointing their camera towards the painting, viewers activate the Artificial Intelligence sound and video animation sequence which brings the painting to life on their digital device. “The oil painting and AR video create a link between past and contemporary representations and experiences of nature. By juxtaposing the 19th century Romantic tradition of painting with emerging technologies, the artwork creates a tension-filled interface, momentarily transporting the viewer into a familiar but alien world.

“But most crucially, experienced in its multiple modalities, the artwork offers the viewer an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with nature and our changing landscape,” said du Plessis.

As the winner of Sasol New Signatures, du Plessis walks away with a cash prize of R100 000 and the opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2022. 

Sasol has been the sponsor of the competition for 31 years. “We remain committed to play our part in supporting the arts through this prestigious competition because we recognise the integral role it plays to mirror and record where and who we are as a society, both collectively as a nation and for artists’ personally. Our role in the arts is a shining example of our purpose in action.  A purpose we will live up to as we continue to play our part in advancing the interests and developmental needs of artists at all levels. We are not just a sponsor, we are a partner in the development and growth of the arts.” said Elton Fortuin, Sasol Vice President: Group Communications and Brand Management.

Coming in second place and winning R25 000 was Dalli Weyers from Johannesburg. He wins for his work titled Forward: A manifesto created in the artist’s preferred medium, plastic bags. “Plastic bags, through a process of photo-degradation, disintegrate but don’t break down completely. Instead, they turn into microplastics that remain in the environment for centuries.

The 5 Merit winners were Nico Athene (Cape Town), Michèle Deeks (Pretoria), Sibaninzi Dlatu (Gqeberha), Eugene Mthobisi Hlophe (Durban) and Monica Klopper (Pretoria). Each Merit Award winner received a R10 000 cash prize. 

Black Coffee Gets Nod For Grammy Nomination

One of South Africa’s best cultural exports, DJ Black Coffee - Nkosinathi Maphumulo’s international recognition moved a notch up with his nomination for a 2022 Grammy Awards. He was nominated in the category Best Dance/Electronic Album for his album Subconsciously, which was released earlier this year. He is nominated alongside Illenium, Major Lazer, Marshmello, Sylvan Esso and Ten City.

Winners will be announced during the live ceremony at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on 31 January. 

A New Curator for UJ Art Gallery

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has announced Thabo Seshoka as the new Curator for the UJ Art Gallery from January 2022. Seshoka takes over from Annali Cabano-Dempsey who will be going into retirement.

Seshoka currently serves as the Head of Heritage and Research at Robben Island Museum. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science, and Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) degree from Rhodes University, a Master of Arts degree from Nelson Mandela University, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice from Henley Business School, Africa. 

In his current role, Seshoka oversees Robben Island Museum’s Exhibitions and Development, Research and Natural Environment units, as well as the institution’s Creative Team and Mayibuye Archives

Cultural activist Barbara Masekela shares her life story in her memoir- Poli Poli

On Thursday, November 4th, Ms Barbara Masekela launched her widely acclaimed book, a memoir titled Poli Poli at an event hosted by the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg.

As a cultural activist and one who is keen on seeing the rich diversity and heritage within South Africa,  Masekela said that she felt that telling her story through the book would encourage more participation of the “younger generation” in the cultural studies.

She explained that the book meanders various paths of her life journey including the myths about growing up in KwaGuqa to grandparents, about beer brewers, and the hardships of having to navigate a new South Africa after returning from exile.

Masekela gave a breakdown of the difficult social and political context of the 1950s and the 60s, and argued that the one thing that could not be taken away from South Africans was the beauty of the people, the cultures and the landscape. She also emphasized the importance of preserving as well as creating cultural centres that will teach the younger generation our cultural history whilst nurturing cultural activists that will continue the work and study our cultural heritage. 

She highlighted the different socio-economic struggles that confront South Africans and offered possible interventions that could be undertaken to overcome these.

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