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'Girls Night Out' in the limelight. Links to media response, reviews and other articles.

GNO gets a mention in Sue Williamson's February Diary: ArtThrob Vol.91, March 2005

Sean O'Toole recently interviewed Sarah Nankin for the Sunday Times Lifestyle, Sunday 13 March 2020, p.5

Vroue se blik op die wêreld
Deur Elsabé Brits
Die Burger, Dinsdag 1 Maart 2005, bl. 12
Wat sien Suid-Afrikaanse vroue in die wêreld om hulle en hoe ervaar hulle dit?

Die tentoonstelling Girls' Night Out, wat tot 26 Maart in the João Ferreira Gallery aangebied word, wil juis poog om dit uit te beeld, sê die kurator en een van die deelnemende kunstenaars, Tracy Gander.

Dié uitstalling, waaraan verskeie bekende vroue-kunstenaars en een man deelneem, het kontemporêre fotografie as basis, hoewel nie al die werke foto's is nie, vertel Gander.

"Die tema is die ervarings van vroue binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks, en laat baie ruimte vir individuele interpretasie," seê sy.

Baie van die werke het 'n sterk vroulike en persoonlike inslag, wat Girls' Night Out uniek maak en 'n mens op reis neem saam met die kunstenaar.

Die kunstenaars se verskillende agtergronde sorg vir uiteenlopende interpretasies van dieselfde Suid-afrikaanse konteks.

Gander sê Sue Williamson bied in dié uistalling vir die eerse keer werk aan wat net uit foto's bestaan.

"Haar werk breek deur tradisionele grense in die sin dat sy met 'n groep Moslem-mans in Alexandri‘ in Egipte vriende gemaak het en in die binnekring van hul daaglikse lewe toegelaat is.

"Dit is uitsonderlik wat sy as wit, Westerse vrou reggekry het."

Arnold Erasmus se DVD-projeksie behandel die mites oor hoe "wonderlik dit glo is om 'n skoonheidskoningin te wees. Maar dit werk nie altyd uit soos hulle dink dit gaan wees nie," het hy oor sy werk gesê.

Die steeds onbekende en geslote wêreld van swart gay vroue word effens ontsluit in 'n reeks foto's genaamd From 6 to 2.

Dié beelde vertel meer orr die sosiale struktuur van 'n groep swart gay vroue en hoe hulle 'n "girls' night out" ervaar.

Dit word aangebied deur Dorothee Kreutzfeldt in samewerking met Ingrid Masondo en Keorapetse Mosimane.

Gander se eie swangerskap, wat sy as 'n private sowel as 'n openbare aangeleentheid ervaar het omdat "wildvreemde mense met my gepraat het oor die baba en selfs aan my maag gevat het", is in haar eie reeks foto's opgeneem.

Lien Botha se foto's is op doek gedruk en sorg "weer vir iets nuuts. Haar werk verander gereeld; dit is wat dit lekker maak," sê Gander.

Claire Breukel het ou foto's van haar ma saam met foto's van haar eie rreise deur die land gebruik. "Dit verleen 'n nostalgie aan haar bydrae tot die uitstalling," sê Gander.


Single talent pops to the top at this group show
By Melvyn Minnaar
Cape Times, Monday 7 March 2020, p. 10

Month of Photography Exhibitions: GIRL'S NIGHT OUT at the João Ferreira Gallery; SWEET NOTHINGS at the Bell-Roberts Gallery. MELVYN MINNAAR reviews.
Both these shows carry cutesy titles which could really take in anything and mean whatever - which is just about what the collective of five gals at Bell-Roberts, and the more or less eight plus one chap at João Ferreira does.

With the actual offerings of final photographic media all over the place in contemporary let's-see-what-I-can-do-otherwise fashion, the links between the photo makers, as implied by common exhibition titles, are as hazy and tenuous as some of the lesser technical achievements on paper.

Ranging from a photocopy/wall painting and instant polaroids (Dorothee Kreutzfeldt and Jean Brundrit in Sweet Nothings) to DVD film and digital telephone camera prints (the lonely male Arnold Erasmus and Katherine Bull in Girl's Night Out), you get that feeling that you want to shout: "Forget the camera, look at what comes out of it!"

So much then for the fashionable, forever-bandied concept of "curating" an exhibition.

The implication of such group shows is that the whole would be more powerful, meaningful, moving, smarter, than the individual's.

Alas, it is the single talent that pops to the top here - and would probably do better in solo efforts.

How one would like to see Bridget Baker develop her intriguing, dramatic, The Maiden Perfect into more narrative.

Or Lien Botha extend her enigmatic series comprising "lover's simulacra".

Or Sarah Nankin develop her curiously pity ice skater portraits. Jean Brundrit get on with her remarkable poetic vision.

And then there is Sue Williamson whose Men of El Max pictures upset the whole "curatorial" applecart be stepping smartly outside and just works so beautifully as atmospheric potent photographs.

In these shows, like with most of the cornucopia on offer in this ambitious Cape Town Month of Photography, it the photographic "fix" has been shifted to the individual viewer.


By Sandra Klopper
Art South Africa, Volume 3, Issue 4, Winter 2005, pp.64-65

Although there were times when it seemed as though Cape Town's third Month of Photography festival would never get off the ground, it was with a huge sigh of relief that many of us greeted the growing evidence earlier this year that 2005 might deliver several thought-provoking projects as part of this initiative. In the event, the festival elicited exhibitions that were wonderfully diverse in presentation and intention.

Given this diversity, it is all the more surprising that two of these exhibitions - Girl's Night Out and Sweet Nothings - are in some respects quite similar. Both focus on the work of local white women photographers, and both seek to explore a range of interrelated issues that highlight the complex dynamic between the public and and the personal, a preoccupation that has characterised the work of many women artists since the late 1960s and early 1970s, when feminist theorists first questioned the then prevalent tendency to dismiss the political import of private experience.

Since these early days of feminist debate, it has become increasingly commonplace for women artists to address the politics of the personal through explorations of sexuality and gender identity, the voyeuristic potential of the (male) gaze - which is particularly obvious in photographic images - and the roles women have played in society (both past and present). In the process of exploring themes like these, many of these artists have developed previously unimaginable (re)configurations of the relationship between women and the world(s) they (re)negotiate on a daily basis.

In these respects, both exhibitions hold few surprises. In fact, if anything, they confirm a trend in the politics of representation that is comfortably predictable, yet also entirely relevant to this day. In this world of lived experience, images of women grappling with the stereotypical roles they are repeatedly forced to adopt and fulfil compete with others in which, clearly, there is evidence that they have attained, and are attaining increasing freedom and power in both the private and the public domain.

While concerns like these are evident in the works of a number of the photographs included in the two shows, significantly, hardly any of these women artists moved beyond the immediate reality of their own (white) middle class experience. Indeed, although Dorothee Kreutzfeldt seeks to engage the often very harsh but always evocatively poignant realities of contemporary life in the greater Johannesburg area, and Sue Williamson finds that it is only possible for a woman to enter the male world of Cairo nightlife if she is a complete outsider, by and large the photographs contained in these two exhibitions reflect preoccupations that are far removed from the lived realities of the majority of South African women today.

In pointing to this fact, my intention is certainly not to devalue the aims of the photographers who participated in the two exhibitions, or to suggest that they should accept a greater political responsibility, or provide a politically more 'correct' take on the history of representation in South Africa. Rather, it is to highlight both the specificity of their concerns and the remarkable quality of nostalgia that seems to characterise the projects of many of the participants. It is an extraordinary fact that several of these artists provide glimpses into the now forgotten worlds once occupied by their parents and grandparents.

Although never overt, the widespread interest in issues of gender and sexuality in both exhibitions high-lights the increasingly problematic relationship between physical appearance and the desirability in (Western) society. This anxious relationship is reflected, most obviously, but by no means only, in Claire Breukel's photomontages of her mother and grandmother, as well as in the photographs of Tracy Lindner Gander. The latter photographer (together with Arnold Erasmus) presents a document of "the pregnant body during the last six weeks of pregnancy". According to Lindner Gander, this changing (pregnant) body "signifies shifts of identity from individual to that of mother and parent". Breukel meanwhile reconfigures images of "once youthful figures" in a nostalgic search for a feminine identity that seeks to transcend prescriptive social norms but, sadly, seems incapable of escaping them. Similar issues are raised by Jillian Lochner's manipulated images of a Barbie doll enacting scenes reminiscent of those performed by naked women in striptease clubs. But in this case the stark setting and harsh lighting suggest an inescapably depressing sense of loss and alienation.

Although apparently essential, even eternal, these images of women struggling to come to terms with their own (mediated) sexuality, is bellied by the voluptuous cheesecake soft-porn colour photographs that Jean Brundrit's grandfather collected on a trip to Europe in the 1950s. These form part of the Sweet Nothings exhibition. It is an entirely apt tribute to the later exhibition that one of these coyly available images of feminine sexuality - reminiscent of photographs documenting 1950s icons like Marilyn Monroe - was chosen for the cover of the modest catalogue produced to accompany that show. For, like the work of several other photographers included in both exhibitions, this found image draws attention to the fact that ideals of feminine beauty (and appropriate behaviour) are subject to constant renegotiation and redefinition.

The interest in found objects, including found photographs, evident in the work of a number of the photographers from the two shows, provides what in some ways could be seen as a key to understanding the complex political role photography has come to play in contemporary society. Always alert to the medium's voyeuristic potential, some of the photographers actively avoid the human subject; alternatively, they present people seen through the lens of other photographers or, as in the case of Katherine Bull's work, through the grainy, smudged images produced on a mobile phone in the hazy artificial light cast by street and other lamps at night.

Here, and elsewhere in these two exhibitions, the photographer's self-conscious attention to how images can be, and are mediated encourages the viewer to take seriously even those images that seem otherwise to be quite light-hearted in intention.

gno Joao Ferreira Gallery