Writing Art History Since 2002

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I arrived for the Guten Tag Cape Town exhibition at the Woodstock IndustrialCentre, a cement monolith looming out of Albert street, not sure what toexpect. Or how to get in. After looking around for a while, I decided to just tryfollowing the stream of hipsters trickling into the building through a hole cutinto the corrugated iron gate. Inside, a large, yellow blow-up animal (achicken, I hazarded) that you were meant to proceed through, bobbed and archedlike a strange gazebo. The people in front of me climbed in, two by two, to getto the other side, but I decided to duck around it,an act I’d end up repeating throughout the night.The Guten Tag Cape Town exhibition and street party marked the officiallaunch of the residency programme. It also served as a housewarming of sorts for the space. The exhibition itself was curated, or “colonized” as they put it, by WeAre Visual. According to the piece of paper I loosed from a clipboard stuck to awall, We Are Visual is a three man collective of German artists and curators.Its members, Brent Dahl, Marc Einsiedel and Felix Jung arrived in Cape Town inDecember for a six week visit where they attempted to “intervene in the spaceand create new experiences”. The trio’s stay culminated in the exhibition,which showcased paper works from their Hamburg artist’s squat, Gaengeviertel,as well as work by South African artists. To get to this work, and the gallery itself, I had to once againpractice the dance of ducking, this time through a large gap ripped into a wirecage. When I was in, however, it became obvious that all the angling was worthit: the collection was an interesting mesh of works by the different artists, movingeasily and unexpectedly from section to section. My only gripe was that withoutany accompanying panels, and very little explanatory text, it was sometimesdifficult to follow. But otherwise, the exhibition, which was separated intoseven different parts, always managed to keep my attention. A particular highlight wasthe “Billboard” area: earlier in their stay, We Are Visual had appropriated abillboard on Albert street and wrote ‘Some Laaitie Told Us It’s Better To DrinkAnd Drive Than To Get Taken For A Poes While Walking Home’ over it. Revisitingthis in the gallery with photographs, they also stencilled the phrase over anentire wall. Another favourite, was the live drawing being performed in theentrance of the space. In their artist’s statement, We Are Visual summed uptheir particular method of expressing their experience of a place: “The aim isnot to criticize or force change, but rather to engage those who view the workwith the tangible and intangible boundaries.”All in all, the exhibition, which ran from 14- 16 January, was a show that wasn’t afraid to bend at angles in order to have a look at things. Or to ask you to, either.

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