(Exhibition of artists of the Republic of South Africa “Talking of Useless Things” at M.Žilinskas Art Gallery) Kotryna Džilavjanaitė, 2007 09 27

Knut Egil Wang: Isaco Naki “Chickens”

Alison Coutras and group, “Flying, I’m Flying”

Knut Egil Wang, “Car Theft in Kaelishta Suburb”

Knut Egil Wang: Monique Fagan, “A Horse”

In brief: Useless things in the exhibition “Talking of Useless Things” are objects of waste art created by fourteen artists from the Republic of South Africa. At the same time these objects represent the details of daily life from the distant land, signs of culture which causes curiosity. The content of the exposition reflects the situation of African art well. The traditions of local crafts are alive in the African continent, and professional art is poorly developed. The majority of the exhibition authors are wanderers who have not completed any education, they are masters of the province. Processing of waste has become the way of life for them as well as the condition of sustenance.


It seems that the primitive expression of works created from paper, plastic flowers, toys, colourful garlands, etc. is determined by the creative simplicity of authors as well as the lack of artistic ambitions. “Useless Things” may hardly be compared with original and persuasive sculptures of the British group YBA (Young British Artists) or other waste art objects of European authors. The aims of the exhibition participants were limited down to the aesthetics of beauty and search for playful forms.


As waste is a material which absorbs problematic content well, the childish and frivolous exhibits carry a serious social load. Objects are accompanied by thoughts and stories of authors, which grant features of a documentary short story to the exhibition. It becomes clear from these texts that the exhibits are rather social projects than artworks. Almost all participants are active people of African communities and public organisations which fight against problems of their country. For instance, Luvuyo Nyathi and Masimba Jeff Mwazha teach residents of PAR province the craft of waste artworks and mitigate the high unemployment level here. L. Nyathi processes cola tins into planes, caps and dresses, while M.J. Mwazha models human figures from wires.


The exhibition authors draw attention to the problem of AIDS epidemic, which is urgent in the Republic of South Africa as well. Zolile Derrick Senteni exhibits tin penguins comparing the birds getting extinct with people infected with AIDS. The ideas of environment protection are emphasised by the works of Monique Fagan, which are exceptional by the strongest fantasy and touch with the concept of art. The artist creates inventive sculptures of people and animals from waste found in the beach sand.


Still, the artistic quality of works which arrived to Lithuania from PAR makes one doubt about their remaining value. The strength of the exhibition lies in the social messages and the possibility to catch the pulse of the interesting and dynamic culture. However, the rather shallow expression of works which often makes one smile misleads the senses and hinders the more serious realisation of African sores.

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