Thanks to Evelyn Owen and her blog African Art in London for the heads-up for Willem Boshoff at the Tate Modern last week – a highly charismatic, interesting artist’s talk, laced with Boshoff’s characteristic humour – from one of South Africa’s pre-eminent conceptual artists – in fact, he describes himself as the only one, ‘alone’ in creating conceptual art in the 60s and early 70s South Africa.
Boshoff’s talk gave an outline of an astonishing career and body of work, and a trajectory of resistance through aesthetic practice – there is a body of concrete poetry too – from early days of compulsory military service to responses to the current, and persistent rhetoric of the continuing ‘War on Terror’. His work details a fascination with language and the power structures it imposes, hides, reveals – as Ivan Vladislavic says of him, the viewer of his work may be better described as a ‘reader’ – you can check out his work on this comprehensive site here – one of my favourites is Abamfusa Lawula/The Purple Shall Govern (1997) (and ‘purple’ is not a mistype), particularly given its current relevance in light of the uses of anti-apartheid protest songs and censorship.
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