The Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria has presented ‘Handle with Care’, an art exhibition of selected work from the South32 Art collection whose assembly began in the year 1994. The collection marks the “crossroad for change in South Africa from political repression to a space in which new futures could be reimagined”.
It was assembled through the “revolutionary curatorial eye” of South African artist, Kendell Geers, who is now based in Belgium. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from ‘Handle with care’ (1994), which is the work of artist Kagiso Pat Mautloa who is based in Johannesburg. The phrase ‘handle with care’ is associated with the idea of fragility and delicacy evoking the need to exercise caution. ‘Handle with Care’ is a timely exhibition “in a world that is collectively experiencing the uneven effects of COVID-19, the administration of Care has become even more crucial… in prioritising Care, we appeal for a just society”.
‘Rituals of Self-preservation’ is the first of four themes making up the exhibition. “The exhibition title’s instruction for us to care does not imply responsiveness only to that which is external to us … but reminds us also of our need to internalise such care, through rituals of self-preservation, and a sensibility and commitment to that as a way of being in and of the world” reads the opening message of the section. The three themes ‘Dreamscapes, Construction of Masculinities and Abstractions’ explore the subjective landscape of dreams and the symbolic conceptions about spirituality, the unconscious, the cosmos and imagining; reflects on the genderedness of power and the legacy of colonialism on the construction of masculinities in the context of South Africa; and address the question of abstraction within twentieth-century modernist and contemporary art from South Africa, respectively. Javett-UP celebrated its second anniversary on 24 September, however, the display of the works and artefacts at the centre is a year-round celebration of their heritage.
The events and public programmes hosted during Heritage month include: – Afrikaaps (2010) film screening and discussion session with the director, Dylan Valley.
- A curatorial dialogue with Gabi Ngcobo (Curatorial Director at the Javett-UP Art Centre) and Danielle Oosthuizen (Public
- A musical performance of Willem Boshoff’s Concrete Poetry Kykafrikaans. The performance had music by Jaco Meyer,
performed by the voices of the Vox Chamber Choir.
Alongside ‘Handle with Care’ are majestic exhibitions; ‘Interfacing New Heavens’, ‘Word Woes’, and two gold exhibitions: the Mapungubwe Gold Collection and the Id Ashanti Barbier- Mueller Gold of Africa Collections that also touch on the themes of African and South African history and heritage. “Interfacing New Heavens investigates indigenous knowledge systems and technologies. It also touches on the way we move forward and create the epoch we live in. Word Woes is concerned with language, and some works in particular deal with the inclusion and exclusion of certain communities. The National Treasures: Mapungubwe Gold Collection includes artefacts that are a cornerstone in the view of our heritage both domestically and internationally”.
Javett-UP hosts diverse events and programmes. including workshops for teachers and students interested in Art Education, Language, History or Design and Technology, and dialogues and tours of the exhibitions. Guests can book at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow their IG handle: javettup for snippets of art and details on upcoming events. The exhibition explores our rich history and how it shapes our present, how we can preserve the self in the present and reimagine the future. It is a sight worth seeing!
Photo: Ruth Versfeld