Unheralded KZN Crafters Wow at Frieze 2010

A group of rural KwaZulu Natal crafters quietly consolidated their place on the London contemporary art scene

Lisa Lou, Continuous Mile
LONDON — The difference two years makes. In 2008 South
Africans were everywhere in London. Robin Rhode, who was the subject of a large-scale solo show at the Hayward Gallery, was one of four South Africans represented at the annual Frieze Art Fair, with key works by Angela
Ferreira, Kendell Geers and William Kentridge also on display.
William Kentridge
This year the only work
by a
South African was this editioned print by Kentridge, a processional
scene drawing his Nose series, on offer by his New York
dealer, Marian Goodman.

London’s White Cube, which represents Rhode and fellow Berliner Candice Breitz, did however include a new work by New York artist Liza Lou, made in conjunction with a group of crafters from KawZaulu Natal. Titled Continuous Mile (2007-08), the work, which resembles a coiled lengthy of rope, was woven entirely out of glossy black beads.

It is not the first work by Lou to employ the skills of Mzi Shangase, Nomusa Bailey, Zanele Gwala and 18 other crafters. Lou, who has lived and worked in South Africa for extended periods over the past several years, has developed a body of work based upon ideas of
confinement and protection. Security Fence (2005) is a full-scale,
silver beaded enclosure of chain-link and razor wire that can neither be entered nor exited. Barricade (2007-08) is a gate-like structure that Lou has encased in 24-karat-gold beads, but provides neither protection
nor safety.
Liza Lou, Continuous Mile, 2007-08, cotton and black glass beads, 80 x Ø 140cm