Peter Anders’ swansong: a book and a party

Positions, a new book profiling a diverse group of local creative practitioners, is Goethe Institute’s Peter Anders’ swansong before he leaves for China

Positions: Contemporary Artists in South Africa, Jacana images/articles/Goethe-Institut, 2010 JOHANNESBURG,
Nov. 17, 2010 — Peter Anders, the energetic head of programmes for Sub-Saharan
Africa at the Johannesburg office of the Goethe Institute, will be leaving
South Africa at the end of the year to take up a new appointment as country
director of the non-profit German cultural institution’s operations in China, albeit
not before celebrating his tenure locally with a final contribution to the
local cultural landscape.

Positions: Contemporary Artists in South
Africa is a new 296-page
full colour book jointly edited by Anders, a staffer at the Goethe Institute
since 1990, and Mail & Guardian
arts editor Matthew Krouse.

The book profiles a variety of artists, writers,
choreographers, photographers and musicians, its productively dissonant line-up
including insights into cartoonist Zapiro, choreographer Robyn Orlin, theatre
director Brett Bailey, playwright and director Mpumulelo Paul Grootboom, urban
geographer Ismail Farouk and poet Lesego Rampolokeng.

“Produced in
direct dialogue with journalists and cultural scientists from the respective
art scenes, developments within today’s cultural flashpoints are illuminated in
interviews, portraits and essays,” reads a statement issued by Jacana Media,
co-publisher of the book with the Goethe Institute.”Throughout, the
focus is on the artists’ individual perspectives, not theoretical or historical
concepts, with their specific approaches and different forms of expression they
give insight into the pressing issues of South African society, showing how
political art is positioned in the post-apartheid era.”

Positions also
includes two recent Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners, Michael McGarry,
whose award exhibition Endgame is
currently touring the country, as well as the 2011 winner of this award, sculptor
Nandipha Mntambo (recently spotted on e.tv). The book’s cover features Kudzanai
Chiurai’s 2009 photograph, The Black
President, first shown at the Goodman Gallery’s Cape Town branch in winter
2009.

Demolition of Goethe Institute’s wall in Johannesburg, November 9, 2009. Photo: Goethe Institute During his tenure in South Africa Anders was a distinctive personality, repositioning the Goethe Institute as a dynamic agent within the
cultural sector, not singularly as a funder but also as an originator of creative
projects. Key initiatives spearheaded by Anders include the establishment of Goethe on Main, a project-space in the
Arts on Main precinct in central Johannesburg.

“For us it
is important not to influence content or manipulate the outcome by facilitating
financial resources,” reflected Anders in a contribution to Art South Africa, published in March
2010. “So, an independent jury of local art professionals and artists selects
projects; while focussed on a broad theme generated with artistic discourses in
mind, individual projects remain diverse.”

He also
oversaw an innovative month-long project marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall
of the Berlin Wall. Hosted at the Goethe Institute’s Parkwood offices, Cracking Walls included an international
symposium, with presentations by local and visiting German artists and writers.
The project culminated with a potent symbolic act: the demolition
of the Goethe Institute’s perimeter wall.

Anders will mark
the launch of Positions with a party next
week (Tuesday, November 23) at Private Practice, a multi-use arts space located
on the 19th floor of the Lister Building at 195 Jeppe Street,
Johannesburg.

View the
launch invitation here.
RSVP to Amy Flatau >.

Declaration of
interest: the author of this article contributed an essay on photographer Guy
Tillim to Positions