“the silences between”
              Sean O’Toole
              The flourishing of South Africa’s commercial galleries over the last two decades has coincided with the atrophying of infrastructure, collections, and curatorial programs at the country’s major public museums. State neglect, hobbled budgets, and poor leadership at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, as well as important municipal museums in Johannesburg and Durban, have resulted in, among other things, the ceding of curatorial narrative to the marketplace during the post-apartheid period. Over the last decade and in the absence of competition, retail enterprises like Goodman Gallery, Stevenson, and Whatiftheworld/Gallery have all staged ambitious group exhibitions mobilized around worldly themes that have served to introduce artists like Karo Akpokiere, Stan Douglas, Glenn Ligon, Julie Mehretu, Paulo Nazareth, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to a South African audience. For all their mobility and capital, commercial galleries also work within a system of constraints, with worldliness often shrunk to fit a partisan narrative. “the silences between” typifies this history. Taking its title from a 1982 book by New Zealand author Keri Hulme, Goodman Gallery curator Emma Laurence’s feminist-inflected exhibition explores what Hulme described as “the writing of history and what is left out.” Her exhibition is, however, wholly made up of Goodman Gallery artists, …
              "Speaking Back"
              Morgan Quaintance
              On a long drive into the city our tour guide, a “colored”(1) woman and self-confessed strict Old Testament observer, railed against recent student activism at the University of Cape Town: “They pulled down the statue of Cecil Rhodes and he did more for the black people than they have done for themselves.” This is how it is with a certain generation, I’m told. Scratch the surface and the old hissing, prejudicial illogics of empire and apartheid can still be found. White English against white Afrikaners, coloreds against blacks, every self against every Other. These are tensions that compound social divisions, exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth, and rationalize a brutal reality of social cleansing that gentrification seems too florid a word to describe. In a town this politically charged, what use are the subtle, indirect, and oblique forces of contemporary art? “Speaking Back,” at Goodman Gallery, is offered as a possible response to teleological questions like the one above. In the guise of an exhibition as social interstice, a locus in which marginal and muted subject positions are given voice, the innovative and often startling works of 13 predominantly black African and African American women are installed as possible contributions to …

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