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Kevin Mulhearn

(b Johannesburg, 1959).

South African sculptor and installation and multimedia artist. Though Alexander trained as a sculptor at the University of the Witwatersrand, earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1982 and a Masters in 1988, she nevertheless pursued a variety of artistic disciplines, regularly employing photomontage and sometimes using video in her practice. While working towards her Masters’ degree, she produced Butcher Boys (1985–6), an iconic work from this contentious era in South African history. The sculptural tableau presents three monstrous, grey nude male figures built from plaster over a gauze core and glazed with oil paint. Seated casually on a bench, their heads strikingly combine human and animal forms, with twisting horns and sealed-up mouths. While Butcher Boys, like many of the artist’s works, responded to its socio-historical context, Alexander typically has not produced explicitly political work or supplied interpretive statements, preferring pieces to remain open-ended in their meanings....

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(b Mombasa, Kenya, Nov 2, 1962).

German multi-media installation and performance artist of Kenyan birth. Von Bonin is known for collaborative, richly associative and perplexing spaces full of artworks that suggest Alice-in-Wonderland narratives and evoke Claes Oldenburg’s playful relational strategies.

Von Bonin attained art world prominence soon after her first New York solo show in 1991. Her puckish neo-feminist conceptual art draws largely upon her experiences and friendships in the Cologne art world and neighborhood art scene. Von Bonin’s work challenges traditional stereotypes of the artist as male genius, creating art alone in his studio. The prestige of the artist’s signature is mocked in ‘solo’ shows such as her exhibition The Cousins (2000), held in Brunswick, which featured a large library installation by the artist Nils Norman (b 1966). Von Bonin arranged many installation events with fellow artists, musicians and writers, in which she played the role of curator-impresario as well as object maker. In her work different media and expressive idioms are re-mixed, the world of popular music in particular being integral to her ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Johannesburg, 1972).

South African multi-media artist, active in the USA. She received a BA in fine arts (University of Witwatersrand, 1993), an MA in art history (University of Chicago, 1995), and an MPhil in art history (Columbia University, New York, 1997). She was a fellow of the Whitney Independent Studio Program, New York (1996–7). Her work has been regularly included in biennials (including among others Johannesburg 1995, São Paulo 1998 and Venice (2005)), has been shown extensively in international solo and group exhibitions, and is owned by museums and private collectors throughout the world. In 2007 she was awarded the Prix International d’Art Contemporain by the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco. In photography, video, and installation, Breitz turns an insightful, playful, and critical eye towards issues of representation, identity, media, global capital, consumerism, celebrity, fandom, and language. Her work stretches from the problem of the cult of the individual to the question of how cultural and other forms of identity are established and maintained. In ...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

(b 1947).

Ethiopian painter and computer artist, active in the USA. He trained at the School of Fine Arts under Gebre Krestos Desta in 1967. He received a scholarship to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Nigeria, where he earned a BA (1972). He then moved to the United States to be curator of the art gallery at Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. He actively promoted Ethiopian art, curating two 1973 exhibitions that featured Ethiopian artists working in the USA. He was awarded an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. His paintings from this period are figurative. He went on to receive a PhD in computer art from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and became a professor of art and director of the Computing Center for the Arts at North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC. His works from the 1990s are cibachrome prints of computer-manipulated imagery that range from complex compositions to simple figural depictions....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Russell Gullette

(b Johannesburg, May 1968).

South African installation, performance, and video artist and photographer. Geers is part of a generation of African artists who emerged during the global expansion of the art world in the 1990s. Born into a white working-class family, he studied fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 1985 to 1987. Geers was exiled for refusing to serve in the South African Defence Force in 1989. With the threat of imprisonment removed after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in 1990 he returned to Johannesburg. Then in 2000 he moved to Brussels.

Geers has described his artistic position as a TerroRealist. His work features everyday, vernacular materials such as beer bottles, razor wire, pornography, neon signs, and expletives such as ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’. He employed these materials as a means to challenge various manifestations of power, whether state terror, working-class oppression, history, or, at his most poetic, language....

Article

Kan-Si  

Joanna Grabski

[Sy, Amadou Kane]

(b Kaolack, April 12, 1961).

Senegalese painter. Before graduating from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Dakar (1991), he pursued studies in law at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar. In the early 1990s he focused on a series of multi-media assemblages, Déstructurés, which questioned the relativity of visual perception. Combining wood, ribbed cardboard, paper and paint, these works suggest fractured compositions and fragmented picture planes. By contrast, Kan-Si employed a realistic and somewhat narrative style in his subsequent series, Rituel Seculaire (1998; artist's col.). In this series he depicts rows of figures in various gestures of prayer to suggest the central role of religion in Senegalese society. In the 1990s, he worked as a Studio Assistant in Printmaking at the Goree Institute and participated in numerous interactive artist's workshops, including Tenq (Dakar, 1996) and Daro Daro (Abidjan, 1997). In addition to his artistic endeavors, he also dedicates himself to such social projects as Man-Keneen-Ki and Forum pour un Développement Durable et Endogene. He has exhibited in Africa, Europe and the USA....

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 28 April 1955, in Johannesburg.

Draughtsman, engraver, graphic designer, film producer, sculptor, theatre and opera designer and producer. Multimedia, animated films.

Land Art.

Although William Kentridge has practised his creativity in many domains and in a wide range of media (animated films, land art, sculpture, printmaking, theatre and opera design and production, installations), it is chiefly his large-scale charcoal drawings in process (drawing for animation) and his unique, short, animated films and their projection that have given him international fame....

Article

Tunisian, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1946.

Born 1926, in La Marsa.

Painter. Multimedia.

Koskas travelled to Paris in 1946, where he worked in the studio of André Lhote and Fernand Léger and formed a friendship with Vantongerloo. He was involved in theatre and cinema projects, notably with the director Jacques Baratier. After completing a number of figurative paintings influenced by Léger, he evolved towards abstraction ...

Article

Kimberly Bobier

(b El Nuhud, 1951).

Sudanese multimedia and performance artist, art critic, and art historian, active in France. Musa graduated from the College of Fine and Applied Art, Khartoum Polytechnic, in 1974. After moving to Italy from Sudan, Musa relocated to France and matriculated at Montpellier University, earning ah Doctorate in Art History in 1989 and a teaching diploma in Fine Arts from Montpellier University in 1995. Subsequently, Musa created artist’s books and illustrated tomes of Sudanese folktales and taught calligraphy. His work critiques European imperialism by parodying the authoritative spectacles of Western museum displays, popular icons, and artistic masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (c. 1500–07; Paris, Louvre) and Gustave Courbet’s the Origin of the World (1866; Paris, Mus. Orsay), both referenced in Musa’s The Origin of Art (1998). Musa’s artwork has frequently addressed stereotypes of Africans and Arabs.

From the late 1980s Musa’s ongoing performance series ‘Graphic Ceremonies’ engaged public audiences in exploring the intersection between the art exhibition and ritual. In a performance at the ...

Article

Christine Robinson

[Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter]

(b Nairobi, 1975).

Kenyan and German performance artist, installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Mwangi’s work addresses notions of cultural difference, social conventions, racial categories, and national identity, primarily through an autobiographical lens. She has often utilized her body as a subject and engaged with questions related to her own African-European heritage. In 2005 Mwangi shifted from a mostly solo practice to a collaborative partnership with her husband, German artist Robert Hutter (b 1964). From that time, the pair has worked and exhibited exclusively under the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Together they have explored larger human experiences and universal issues of stereotypes, fear and negotiations between different cultures, genders, nationalities, and religions through multimedia works that have produced cross-cultural dialogues.

Mwangi was raised in Nairobi by a German mother and a Kenyan father. In 1990, as a teenager, she moved with her family to Germany and studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken from ...

Article

Charles Green

(b Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec 14, 1965).

Australian installation artist, born in Sierra Leone. Resident in Australia from 1972, Piccinini graduated in 1988 from the Australian National University, Canberra, with a BA and then from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, in 1991 with a BA (Painting). She produced images and objects that embodied imaginary evolutionary jumps and mutations (see, for example, The Young Family; see image page for more views). To produce these, she worked in a succession of new, novel materials and media: from synthetic resins, plastics and silicone developed for special effects in movies to the digital manipulation used in commercial photography and animation. In her 1997 series of photographs, Protein Lattice, a naked female plays with a large hairless rat with an enlarged human ear growing from its back. The work combined the highly contrived language of mainstream fashion photography, brightly lit, glossy and free of imperfection, with an animal that appeared to be one of the hybrid clones then emerging from laboratories. Both glossy-haired model and mutant rat appear equally artificial and equally indebted to technology....

Article

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Cape Town, 1964).

South African installation and multimedia artist. Searle received her MA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 1995. Her work has regularly addressed the complex politics of identity in South Africa and the deep and contested historical roots that inflect its contemporary manifestations. She has often used her own body in her work and dealt with themes connected in some way to her own complicated heritage, but she has typically produced work that also speaks to broader issues of both local and global import.

Much of Searle’s art has grappled with the history of South Africa’s ‘coloured’ people, a multiracial population that was the outcome of centuries of cohabitation between indigenes, Europeans, and imported slave labour. In her photographic series Colour Me (1998–2000), Searle covered her skin with such spices as clove and turmeric, allowing her to acknowledge the trade in these commodities, which prompted European settlement on the southern tip of Africa in the 17th century and brought slaves to the region from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. The dual video projection ...

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

Shannen Hill

(b Vryburg, 1953).

South African painter, printmaker, photographer, installation artist and video artist. She received an BA (1974) and an MA (1976) in Fine Arts from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, and a postgraduate diploma from Portsmouth Polytechnic, UK (1979). Her work has appeared in many exhibitions: the Venice Biennale (1993), the Bienal de Havana (1994, 1997), the Johannesburg Biennale (1995, 1997) and Kwanju Biennale in Korea (1995). She has explored different media and themes since gaining recognition for her high relief oil paintings of the 1980s, but her concerns remain those of process, conceptual dualities, histories told and remembered. Through narrative, allegory, appropriation, parody and punning, her subjects challenge racialized and gendered representations, and reveal history as ever-mediated. In Piling Wreckage Upon Wreckage (1989; Cape Town, N.G.) a black girl sits atop an expansive pile of objects (e.g. silverware, a grand piano, paintings) that denote civilized taste and fill the space to suggest limitlessness and domination. Unlike Western prototypes, the girl is overwhelmed by the debris and cannot control its associative meanings. Siopis continued to question ideological constructions in her work on urban domestic identities of the mid-1990s. Her work of the late 1990s was autobiographical, though firmly entangled within aparteid's complex past. ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Kaduna, Aug 15, 1967).

Nigerian multimedia artist, active in the USA. Tuggar studied in London before receiving her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. She completed her MFA at Yale University. Tuggar’s work has been seen as central to the ‘Afro-Futurist’ style and theoretical impulse that gained currency in the mid-1990s as well as to a revitalized and globalized feminist discourse. Afro-futurism denotes the use of the historical past in conjunction with technological innovation to produce aesthetic explorations of the future, fantasy, and possibility for African cultures writ large.

Tuggar is best known for her digitally manipulated and printed collages of her own photographs with found images and text. Often she combined older, sometimes historical images with contemporary scenes and people, conflating past and present and thereby constructing the fantasy aspect of her work. In other instances disparate global spaces converge (Nigeria, the cultural ‘West’, the Middle East), setting up a contemporary investigation of colonialism and post-colonial global realities....

Article

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Lichfield, Staffordshire, Jan 22, 1941).

South African multimedia artist, art critic, and art historian of English birth. Williamson immigrated to South Africa in 1948. She studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1965 to 1968 and received an Advanced Diploma from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 1983. One of South Africa’s most distinguished artists, she has also served a critical role as an interpreter and disseminator of information about the country’s art scene.

Williamson’s work has consistently engaged with South Africa’s social and historical circumstances. In the 1980s she endeavoured to reveal through images the people and ideas that the apartheid regime worked to suppress. In the series A Few South Africans (1983–5), for example, she produced postcard-sized prints of women engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle, such as Winnie Mandela and Helen Joseph, which could circulate at a time when the women themselves were often prohibited from doing so. ...