The theme for the visual arts programme of the twenty-first KKNK was My land, my land. This curated programme of fifteen exhibition did not entail ‘an exhibition of landscapes as the title might suggest, but a set of exhibitions that dealt with all that forms part of the process of life and experience in a country or land. Therefore, exhibitions were presented on renderings and interpretations of the land and its people; the histories of the land; cultural life style patterns; the character and culture of contemporary cities; the changing nature of people and environments; and ecological earth matters. Especially important in the rendering of the theme was that it is about ‘my land’, thus about a type of ownership and identity as well as everything that encompasses the experience of belonging. The exhibitions included artworks in media such as painting, graphic printmaking, sculpture, new media and film, and a wide range of styles, slants and conceptual orientations.
The programme aimed to highlight five facets of the ‘life’ of the artwork, namely 1) the making of art – the initial process when art is created in the studio by an artist of a specific race, gender and nationality; (2) the showing of art – the curatorial process that is driven by a curator, gallery or other role player; (3) the writing about art – art interpreted and theorised by art writers (4) the talking about art – art discussions and debates that positions art in a context and within discourses; and (5) the trading and investment of art – thus the articulation of and the market surrounding the artwork. These facets and processes were incorporated in the choice of exhibitions and venues, and discussions around the exhibitions.
Berni Searle, the internationally known artist and professor of the University of Cape Town, was the festival artist. Colonial and postcolonial events in South Africa have always been a focus in her work and she has continually embedded a core element of personal engagement with the land and its people. Searle is mainly a Performance artist and presented at the KKNK 2015 video productions and photography that deal with the rising discontent and unrest in South Africa about poor service delivery, the lack of housing, joblessness and xenophobia.
Other performance artists in the programme were Naomi van Niekerk and Arnaud van Vliet who questioned the notion of permanence of the artwork in a duo exhibition with elements of music, light and sand. The other solo exhibitions were of Georgia Papageorge, a land artist of international standing; Susan Grundlingh, who depicted identity by way of paintings of Karoo plants; Nathani Lüneburg, a new media artist who works with ideas around time and memory in her stop-frame animations; Dr Peter Magubane, the internationally known photographer and his depictions of Afrikaners; Frikkie Eksteen who interweaves painting and digital processes; the graphic art of Vuli Nyoni that dealstwith group mentality; Diek Grobler and a group of animators that render edAfrikaans poems of well-known poets in animated form; and the Neo-Modernistic paintings of Liberty Battson, 2014’s Absa ‘l’Atelier winner.
The visual arts programme included three curators’ exhibitions, namely a sculpture exhibition of female sculptors, curated by Adele Adendorff; an exhibition focusing on the personalisation and the essential characteristics of the creative artist, curated by Corlie de Kock; and an exhibition of the winners of the Absa l’Atelier art competition of the past thirty years, curated by Dr Paul Bayliss, the curator of the Absa art gallery.
In this programme there were not only artists and curators, but also two mentor exhibitions presented by Diane Victor (graphic printmaking artist) and Pluto Panoussis (film maker). These two mentors have both played an immense role in the guidance and training of, as well as advice to younger artists and film makers.