Monthly Archives: April 2014

Anton Kannemeyer and his Alphabet of Democracy series

STEVENSON is pleased to present Anton Kannemeyer’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.

As South Africa moves into its 20th year of democracy, Kannemeyer continues to explode the idea of the ‘rainbow nation’ through the incisive satire with which he first eviscerated apartheid’s officials and bureaucrats. Exhibiting new works in his ongoing Alphabet of Democracy series, Kannemeyer observes that the criticisms are increasingly directed towards an inept government which is fixated on the past because it is ‘the only noble aspect of its existence left’ (The New Yorker, 16 December 2013).

The debates around the trauma and legacies of colonialism in Africa are another thread in Kannemeyer’s imagery, as in his book Pappa in Afrika (2010). He is currently working on a companion volume, Mamma in Afrika, and many of these new paintings and drawings will be included in the exhibition. These are often in the genre of extreme satire which can simplistically be described as ‘politically incorrect’, a term Kannemeyer regards as reductive. Transgression of our strong beliefs and the sacred stereotypes of race, sex and politics is unavoidable in order for satire to be both critical and playful about themes that often abound in contradictions that we choose not to see.

g_genocide_sloth

The exhibition will also see the launch of The Erotic Drawings of Anton Kannemeyer (click here to view works ), a selection of ‘erotic’ works of recent years drawn from his journals, sketchbooks and the commercial work that he did for Loslyf (an Afrikaans version of Hustler, 1995-1997). The title is an obvious reference to, and subversion of, similarly titled collected works by famous artists, yet the iconoclastic assault in Kannemeyer’s work is often not erotic, but rather confrontational towards the values surrounding sex and nudity in the ‘new’ South Africa. Even though these values have changed radically in the last 20 years, Kannemeyer continues to use such imagery because it allows for raw conceptual debates about our values and double standards. As in Kannemeyer’s Bitterkomix work, the target here is mostly the white Afrikaner male. The book is beautifully produced and has a limited print run of 600 copies, bound to become a collector’s item. A selection of works will be on exhibition, offering a view of another thread through Kannemeyer’s oeuvre.

20_years_democracy

Kannemeyer (born 1967) lives and works in Cape Town. ‘The master “Boer punk”, as he’s been called, coldly holds up a mirror to the failure of good liberal intentions, mainly regarding to race and crime’ (Faye Hirsh in Art in America, January 2012). He has exhibited widely at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; MU, Eindhoven; MHKA, Antwerp; Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Philagrafika festival, Philadelphia; and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York. His work is currently included onPublic Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (until 8 June); the travelling exhibition Meeting Points 7; and Pop Goes the Revolution at The New Church, Cape Town (through 2014). He has published a number of books including Alphabet of Democracy and Pappa in Afrika (both Jacana, 2010).

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Into the ABYSS: Mission to explore the fifth deepest ocean trench on Earth begins

By Jonathan O’Callaghan

  • A 40-day expedition to the Kermadec Trench near New Zealand has begun
  • The trench is the fifth deepest in the world and also one of the coldest
  • The mission is being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • One of the world’s most advanced submersibles will explore the region
  • The pressure on the ocean floor is 1,100 times that at sea level
  • But somehow marine life is able to thrive in this hostile environment
  • The goal is to discover how life can survive at such extreme depths

What lurks at the bottom of the ocean?

That’s a question a team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be hoping to answer.

Using one of the most advanced robotic submersibles in the world, scientists have just plunged to one of the deepest points on Earth.

The 40-day HADES project (Hadal Ecosystem Studies Project), funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation), is aiming to discover how marine life can survive at extreme ocean depths. Pictured is an abyssal grenadier spotted at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on a previous mission

The 40-day HADES project (Hadal Ecosystem Studies Project), funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation), is aiming to discover how marine life can survive at extreme ocean depths. Pictured is an abyssal grenadier spotted at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on a previous mission

 

Their location is the Kermadec Trench, found just off New Zealand.

At a depth of 6.24 miles (10.04 kilometres) it is the fifth deepest trench in the world.

An inflow of deep waters from Antarctica also makes it one of Earth’s coldest trenches.

The 40-day expedition to observe this fascinating location began on Saturday.

The team will be using one of the world’s most advanced submersibles in the world, Nereus, in tandem with other technology.

THE NEREUS SUBMERSIBLE

The vehicle the team are using to explore the Kermadec Trench is Nereus.

According to the NSF it is the world’s only full-ocean-depth, hybrid, remotely-operating vehicle (ROV).

The hybrid design means it can be operated remotely both with and without a tether.

The advanced vehicle weighs 6,200 pounds (2,800 kilograms) and is slightly larger than an average car.

It is powered by 2,000 lithium-ion batteries and its hull can handle intense pressure.

The vehicle can operate remotely for up to 12 hours.

Imagery and video is streamed to a ship on the surface using a fibre-optic cable that is about the width of a human hair.

It has previously been used to explore the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of any ocean on Earth.

The project is known as the Hadal Ecosystem Studies Project (HADES), and its goal is to perform the first systematic study of life in ocean trenches.

‘The proposal to study the deep-sea environment as part of HADES was high-risk, but, we hope, also high-reward,’ David Garrison, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences that funds HADES, says in a release.

‘Through this exciting project, we will shine a light into the darkness of Earth’s deep-ocean trenches, discovering surprising results all along the way.’

Ocean trenches like this are some of the least explored locations on the planet.

It’s often said that we know less about the bottom of the oceans than we do the surface of the moon.

According to Tim Shank, a biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, one of the participating organisations, advances in technology now make such difficult missions possible.

‘We know relatively little about life in ocean trenches, the deepest marine habitats on Earth,’ he says.

‘We didn’t have the technology to do these kinds of detailed studies before.

‘This will be a first-order look at community structure, adaptation and evolution: how life exists in the trenches.’

The destination for this mission is the Kermadec Trench just off the coast of New Zealand, the world's fifth deepest trench and also one of the coldest due to inflow from Antarctica

The destination for this mission is the Kermadec Trench just off the coast of New Zealand, the world’s fifth deepest trench and also one of the coldest due to inflow from Antarctica

 

One of the world's most advanced deep-submergence vehicles, a remotely operated submersible called Nereus, will be used by the researchers in their explorations

One of the world’s most advanced deep-submergence vehicles, a remotely operated submersible called Nereus, will be used by the researchers in their explorations

 

 

Among the questions the scientists are trying to answer, they will be hoping to find out how marine animals can survive at extreme pressures of 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms) per square inch.

For comparison, the pressure at sea level on Earth is 14.7 pounds (6.67 kilograms) per square inch.

The mission will see research conducted at 15 stations, which include both sites at sea level for testing purposes and along the base of the trench.

At each station imaging probes outfitted with cameras and experimental equipment known as Hadal-landers will be deployed.

Included in the experimental equipment will be respirometers, which will study how animal metabolism works at such extreme depths.

Life within deep trenches, such as the cusk eel imaged previously at the depths of the Marianas Trench, is known to be unusual and unique. The researchers will be hoping to discover how marine animals can withstand pressures 1,100 times that at sea level

Life within deep trenches, such as the cusk eel imaged previously at the depths of the Marianas Trench, is known to be unusual and unique. The researchers will be hoping to discover how marine animals can withstand pressures 1,100 times that at sea level

Ocean trenches were once thought to be devoid of life.

Now it is believed that they are home to unique species unlike anything found elsewhere on Earth.

This mission will help to uncover not only how animals can survive here, but also what their food supply is.

The project will also provide important research for climate change studies.

Trenches are known to act as carbon sinks, so it is hoped the researchers can study how carbon and other chemicals are held on the ocean floor.

 

A crustacean scours the edge of the Marianas Trench in the central Pacific Ocean. It is not known how animals such as these are able to get food, something this mission will be hoping to discover

A crustacean scours the edge of the Marianas Trench in the central Pacific Ocean. It is not known how animals such as these are able to get food, something this mission will be hoping to discover

– “DM”

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Why black middle class fails to lead

The black middle class has not stepped up to the plate and taken its place as leaders of society, says Benedict Xolani Dube.

henri

True liberty for any country is measured by the evolutionary advancement of its middle class.

In terms of social stratification, the middle class is the centre that holds and the heart that beats.

Its core mission is that of the custodian, vanguard and torch bearer of society.

This sector of our society constitutes intellectuals (organic and traditional), entrepreneurs, innovators and progressive revolutionaries, and its role in South Africa’s transition in democracy is crucial.

Failure by this sector to honour and fulfil its role leads to anomalies which snowball into serious obstacles. Very often, when the middle class fails to lead, we see evidence of despondency, name-calling, the digging up our collective, unpleasant past and racial rhetoric.

The spontaneous unrest, or what we in South Africa call service delivery protests, are the consequences of middle-class failure. In fact, historical evidence clearly highlights and confirms the middle class as the leader of society.

In this country, the creation of a black middle class, or black bourgeoisie, was, and still is, part of the historical objective of the struggle for freedom. Without a black middle class, the realisation of a critical part of our constitution to create a non-racial society, and the deracialisation of ownership of productive property, will remain a mirage.

The eradication of racism cannot be divorced from the creation and strengthening of the black middle class.

The questions we as a nation need to ask ourselves are:

* In our 20 years of democracy, do we believe we have made comfortable progress or are we marching backwards with regards to these objectives?

* Is a black middle class up to the task of leading society?

* Do we have a critical mass of skilled, knowledgeable and internationally competitive black middle-class members?

* Is our black middle class passive or proactive?

* believe the prevailing socio-economic circumstances in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) suggest the middle class is consistently failing in its mission, which is to protect and be the torch bearers of society.

Economic opportunities are still entrenched in an apartheid stratagem and design, and the pillars of the apartheid economic model seem not to have been shaken.

This economic status quo proceeds regardless of various government interventions.

It is crucial to recall that Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in KZN is not something new.

During apartheid rule, there was Zulu Economic Empowerment (ZEE), which was advocated by the then Kwazulu government under the leadership of Inkatha Yesizwe.

It is arguable whether the beneficiaries of Inkatha Yesizwe ZEE (IYZEE) made any impact on our society. They failed to tilt the economic scales for the inclusion of African people into KZN’s economic mainstream.

In the past 20 years, we have witnessed a burgeoning of the African middle class as consumers. Subsequently, the South African market coined the term Black Diamonds, which I believe is intellectually derogatory, because it defines the African middle class as infested with an appetite for “bling-bling” consumption.

Although the government has all the necessary tools, laws and institutions to decentralise the economy, ongoing statistics confirm that it is equipping and investing in the wrong calibre of middle-class individuals.

The most worrying factor today is the current discourse on what is now termed “the second transition”. The probabilities are that the trends experienced during the first transition will continue to dominate unless we conduct a frank and honest evaluation of the failures of this period.

Renaming the soapie but writing the same storyline and characters is a futile endeavour.

The lack of innovation among the African middle class has led to them being sandwiched between the government and the white corporate class. How can African people claim to be in power if this crucial sector cannot sustain itself?

As far as I can see, the African middle class has only managed to inflict embarrassment on the ruling class, and especially upon the African people, and it is only fair to ask whether the governing ANC can continue to trust and devote the country’s resources to the current African middle class?

Let’s, for instance, look at the example of the Afrikaner middle class, which succeeded in raising the Afrikaners from the bondage of British domination and turning themselves into a powerful nation. The Indian middle class, through collecting the crumbs that fell from the apartheid table, also managed to raise their communities.

Looking at the current African middle class, it’s very much a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We are witnessing the failure of the post-apartheid African middle class to comprehend its role in society. It seems that it has no coherent and pragmatic agenda.

Instead, there is a prevalence of mediocrity, anti-intellectualism and decadence.

The relationship between knowledge producers and controllers of the means of production is indissoluble. In the present times, business people must be intellectuals.

But the truth is, we have very few intellectual tenderprenuers.

The dominance of any group of people can only be evident when the defeated start embracing its culture and language.

The Afrikaners, after their liberation from the British, scientifically developed their language and culture because they wanted to enjoy true liberty and their own identity.

Education is the primary agency and the main transporter of culture and language. Surely the defeated always adopt the culture, language and mannerisms of the victor?

The victor has always set the bar for the defeated.

My heart becomes heavy when I recall Frantz Fanon’s words: “However painful it may be for me to accept this conclusion, I am obliged to state it: For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white.”

We need to ask ourselves: Has the adoption of the victor’s culture and language in South Africa now become a priority? Or is it a form of escapism, a way of abandoning the task at hand?

We cannot afford to remain silent on the question of the apartheid-like economic structures in our province.

– “iol”


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