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Friday, May 12, 2017


(Mary Sibande’s dramatic large scale work, “Cry Havoc” (2014) in conversation with Prof. Hubert von Herkomer’s Queen Victoria (c1890s) as part of “Beauty and Its Beasts”)

Avoid the rush-hour traffic, and end the busy working day with a chilled chardonnay, an opera aria and a chance to spend time in the beautifully-lit, tranquil Durban Art Gallery as the curatorial team lead a free sundowner interactive conversational walkabout with a difference on May 17 for the fabulous exhibition, Beauty and its Beasts, currently on at the Durban Art Gallery in the heart of the city of Durban.

The exhibition entitled Beauty and its Beasts is designed to stimulate contemplation about women, and raise questions about the way we create, perpetuate or allow gender stereotypes. It is on display over two rooms at the DAG.

The exhibition examines how the stereotype was created and how artists have either perpetuated the phenomenon or subverted it. The works on view were selected primarily from the collections of the Durban Art Gallery and where gaps were identified works have been borrowed from other collections. The viewer will be guided by the wall text identifying themes and it is here the voices of the collaborators bring resonance and add strata to the selections.

To set the tone for the evening, and to add an audio dimension to the theme of the exhibition, opera singer Njabulo Shozi, a final year student based at UKZN’s proactive Opera School and Choral Academy, will open the informal event with a carefully-chosen operatic aria.

Shozi, a passionate singer based in Hibberdene with a tenor voice, made himself available to perform at the walkabout, when he heard about the exhibition, and saw the works on display. As a young creative, he has an interest in the relationship between art and gender stereotypes, and wanted to add his male voice into this complex and engaging conversation.

Stereotypes are born in popular culture and have a strong connection to language and graphic design. The media, TV, Facebook, magazines, internet, music and newspapers are the most influential practitioners of stereotyping and wield enormous power over this projection.

“What’s in a stereotype, it’s a label to enhance or reduce an ego, and rarely one’s own choice. Some stereotypes are flattering but more often they are used to insult or belittle. Stereotype is a notion based on prejudice rather than fact which by repetition and with time, stereotypes become fixed in people’s minds,” considers DAG’s Jenny Stretton.

The exhibition is curated by Jenny Stretton with collaboration from Jessica Bothma; Carol Brown; Nindya Bucktowar; Zinhle Khumalo; Sinethemba Ngubane; Osmosisliza; Fran Saunders and Swany. During the walkabout, Stretton will be sharing the commentary and conversations with input and ideas from her collaborators.

Works borrowed from other art collections include Mary Sibande’s Cry Havoc and Zanele Muholi’s Condoms & Feet – contemporary pieces that sit provocatively alongside Hubert von Herkomer’s Queen Victoria. Works have been loaned from Campbell Collections, University of KwaZulu-Natal; Everard Read CIRCA Cape Town; GALLERYMOMO, Cape Town; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg and the UNISA Permanent Collection, Pretoria.

School groups are most welcome to use this exhibition as a visual tool for debate around issues of gender, prejudice and stereotypes– special educational guided walkabouts can be arranged on request.

The free informative public after-work sundowner walkabout of the exhibition Beauty and its Beasts with the curator and collaborators featuring singer Njabulo Shozi takes place on May 17 at 17h30.

The exhibition will be on display at the Durban Art Gallery until July 30, 2017. Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday 08h30 to 16h00 and Sundays 11h00 to 16h00. The Durban Art Gallery is situated on the second floor of the Durban City Hall, entrance in Anton Lembede (formerly Smith) Street opposite the Playhouse. For further details contact Jenny Stretton on 031 3112264 or 031 3327286.