But at the same time it feels informational and corporate, a potpourri of ideas and attitudes that would play well to NGO types at the UN or see-it-all-in-one-go visitors to the Apartheid Museum. Rose and Till’s show bears the title What Remains is Tomorrow. Historically mindful and politically enquiring, it aims to survey the state of things. Our “violent and explosive” character, basically. Issues of history, memory, ritual, identity, labour, power, conflict and xenophobia are all essayed in this austere and conceptually messy exhibition.
Of the 14 artists selected, eight are white lefties on the grey side of 50 – or fadgets, to quote a 1983 song by éVoid. There are some well-known fadgets (Diane Victor, Jo Ractliffe, Willem Boshoff, Brett Murray and Jeremy Wafer) and some lesser-known fadgets, at least in terms of regular exhibitions (filmmaker Angus Gibson, musician and sound designer Warrick Sony and photographer Mark Lewis). The rainbow children, to borrow from a 2011 song by The Brother Moves On, comprise Nandipha Mntambo, Mohau Modisakeng, Gerald Machona, Serge Alain Ntigeka, Robin Rhode and Haroon Gunn-Salie.
Group shows necessarily invite statistical analysis. The South African Pavilion features two foreign nationals (Ntigeka and Machona), which is not an unusual idea. This year’s Belgian Pavilion, for instance, which also presents a group show, includes a fascinating sculptural work by Zimbabwe-born, Pietermaritzburg-raised artist James Beckett. National pavilions need not be parochial. Congratulations to Rose and Till on this count.