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Fine art previews to tempt before Fest

Date Released: Thu, 14 June 2012 11:49 +0200

Tonight Rhodes University's Fine Art Department will host a one-night-only preview of two National Arts Festival exhibitions (Friday, 15 June).

The first is a preview of Maureen de Jager’s exhibition, 'Maria’s Story', which features on the Festival's Main Programme this year. De Jager is a senior lecturer in the Rhodes Fine Art Department and is the Festival's Artist in Residence for visual art.

According to De Jager, 'Maria’s Story' reflects on a precarious time in South African history, as this was remembered (in Afrikaans) in the memoirs of her great-grandmother and retold (in English) by her father several decades later.

At its most immediate, the exhibition tells a story of hardship, loss and resilience, set against the abysmal backdrop of the South African War. Maria de Jager was captured by British soldiers in August 1901 and sent to the Winburg Concentration Camp, where four of her children succumbed to illness - including an infant who was born in the camp and lived for a mere ten days.

In referencing Maria’s memoir, the works on exhibition – comprising installation, video, performance, sculpture and transfers on steel – interrogate how we inherit, interpret and repackage our family histories, turning past experiences into stories that we tell and retell ourselves and each other.

At the same time, Maria’s story foregrounds the precariousness of identity in relation to these stories, suggesting that we are inextricably linked to the past, even as the past is perpetually translated and transformed by every attempt to uncover its elusive truth.

The preview for 'Maria’s Story' will take place in the Albany History Museum’s Standard Bank Gallery at 5.30pm, and will include De Jager’s once-off performance, 104 Degrees.

Thereafter visitors are invited to preview the annual Rhodes Fine Art Students' Exhibition, at the Art School Gallery at 6.30pm. The exhibition comprises an innovative range of work in new and traditional media by undergraduate art students at the university.