|In a somewhat questionable marketing endeavour, the Eastern Cape Region has been sign posted, ‘Frontier Country’ and indeed this is what it is. Historically it is the site of the 9 Frontier Wars and much brutal conflict and living here presently can still seem the edge of nowhere by comparison to many major South African metropols. With Grahamstown at the heart of it, it is also a cosmopolitan space not without vestiges of past pain but - like many colonial outposts in a post-colonial time - it is no longer a satellite to an absent motherland, a mere microcosm of elsewhere, but also a world unto itself.
A potential space of intellectual, debate rather than military conflict – geographically isolated from metropolitan trends – a melting pot of many places, a crucible. In more recent history, this frontier space has been a site of culture, of experiment. Home to an annual arts festival, how is it that Grahamstown with a population of just under 140 000 can command so much creative imagination in novels, plays, poetry and art? Frontier, Border, at the end of the world but not about to fall off – merely at a vantage point to observe a view to come.
- Rat Western
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
James Webb: Yumei na wa ju-go pun
Unbeknownst to the audience, Wa was a fictitious character invented by James Webb. Webb hired a Korean tourist, taught her basic DJ skills and had her “perform” his noise music to the hyped-up crowd.
Biography: James Webb (b. 1975, Kimberley) has been working on both large-scale installations in galleries and museums as well as unannounced interventions in public spaces since 2001. His work explores the nature of belief in our contemporary world, often using exoticism, displacement and humour to achieve these aims. He has participated in exhibitions including the 3rd Marrakech Biennale, the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival and the 9th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon.
Notable recent projects include “Scream,” wherein the artist invited members of the gallery staff of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid to scream at Picasso’s Guernica, “Autohagiography,” an installation consisting of audio interviews conducted with himself under hypnosis, and “There’s No Place Called Home” an on going, world-wide intervention using incongruous foreign birdcalls broadcast out of speakers concealed in local trees, for example the calls of South African summer birds in Japanese trees during midwinter.