Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), San Francisco, United States
21 Feb 2014 - 29 Jun 2014

Organized by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa brings together 25 artists and collectives who disrupt expected images of a country known through its apartheid history.

The exhibition features an arc of artists who look to the intimate encounters of daily life to express the poetics and politics of the ordinary act, with work primarily from the last five years as well as photographic works that figure as historical precedents.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, Public Intimacy looks at the way artists imagine present and future possibilities in South Africa. A new orientation emerges through close-up views of street interactions, portraiture, fashion and costume, unfamiliar public actions, and human imprints on the landscape.



Ian Berry, Ernest Cole, David Goldblatt, Terry Kurgan, Sabelo Mlangeni, Santu Mofokeng, Billy Monk, Zanele Muholi, Lindeka Qampi, Jo Ractliffe, Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, William Kentridge, Donna Kukama, Anthea Moys, Berni Searle, Nicholas Hlobo, Penny Siopis, Handspring Puppet Company, Chimurenga, ijusi (Garth Walker), Anton Kannemeyer, Cameron Platter, Athi-Patra Ruga, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Sello Pesa,Vaughn Sadie with Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre 



21 February , 2014

Opening Night Party 8:00pm – 10:00pm

Performance: Athi-Patra Ruga: The Elder of Azania Fri, Feb 21, 10 pm & Sat, Feb 22, 6 pm • YBCA Forum

Athi-Patra Ruga’s ongoing performance series The Future White Women of Azania (2010-present) features fantastical characters—usually played by the artist—whose upper bodies sprout colorful, liquid-filled balloons, while their lower bodies pose or process in stockings and heels. Drawn both from classical Greek and Roman accounts of southern Africa and activists’ dreams of a pre- and post-apartheid black African utopia, Azania, in Ruga’s presentation, occurs as a state in flux (those balloons do break). Ruga’s new installment, The Elder of Azania, introduces another shape-shifter: a spiritual figure, both king and trickster, both Xhosa goat spirit and Vaslav Nijinsky’s famous faun.


1 March,  4pm + 2 March,  2pm, 2014

Kemang Wa Lehulere: The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side

The proposal centers on the figure of Nat Nakasa (1937-65), a black South African anti-apartheid writer and journalist for Drum magazine. He died in suspicious circumstances—alleged suicide—falling from a high building in New York City. There were failed attempts to take his body home, and he was buried in the Ferncliff cemetery in upstate New York. This is a new project for Kemang; it will be ongoing toward an exhibition and film and/or play in 2015.


12 March 2014, 7 pm (SF Jazz, 201 Franklin Street)

Artist Talk: Zanele Muholi

South African photographer Zanele Muholi, featured in Public Intimacy, gives an artist talk.


14 + 15 March, 2014 7:00pm (24th Street Corridor, Mission District)

Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre: Inhabitant

A collaboration of Sello Pesa and Vaughn Sadie, Inhabitant takes a space that is charged economically or politically with changing demographics (in Johannesburg, it’s in an “arts district” called Maboneng, carved out of a migrant neighborhood). The dancers blend in and out of the crowd, and locals at the site are invited to join the piece. It’s often about the everyday movement of pedestrians and people without homes. The other component is light, as it starts at dusk and continues until nightfall. Local merchants and drivers are employed to create a shifting lightscape.

Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre, L’Afrique Danse, 2012, Newtown, Johannesburg, Performer: Sello Pesa, Photo: Kutlwano Mokgotsi Danse, Courtesy the artists.






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