More cultural events for September

A Mass for the Universe: The New Covenant 

This promises to be a very special event … 110 choristors, (comprising the internationally award winning University of Johannebsurg Choir and University alumni); a mass specially composed by Antoni Shocken to celebrate Renette Bouwer’s 25 years as conductor of the University of Johannesburg Choir; a narration of Antjie Krog’s poetry by Lebo Mashile; staged at the Linder Auditorium on 2 September at 15:00 and 19:30.  Tickets are limited and are available online from R150 on Plankton.  

BMW Art Generation 

The great YES, the great NO William Kentridge in progress 2023. Photo courtesy: Quaternaire

Over the weekend of the 2nd -3rd Sept the Centre for the Less Good Idea at Maboneng will be abuzz with loads of talks, pop-up art exhibitions, fashion offerings, live music, and food stalls.  This is all part of the BMW Art Generation. The highlight of Saturday’s events for me would be William Kentridge’s talk on his new in-process theatre production The Great YES, The Great NO, about a boat journey from Marseilles to Martinique. (I write “would” because I am unable to attend … the FOMO is mounting to uncontrollable proportions). This talk/performance forms part of the brilliant series of lectures: HOW/Showing the Making which, to quote from their website: 

reveals the approaches, strategies and methods employed by artists in the creation of their work. It provides audiences with the opportunity to witness how art is made, giving insight into the thinking, inspiration and techniques that shape it. HOW is a window into process that offers the possibility for a deepened understanding and nuanced appreciation of the work of musicians, choreographers, visual artists and theatre-makers.

Kentridge and fellow collaborators gave an outstanding talk/performance on the making of the Head and the Load. The small intimate performance space makes for a very special experience and, as tickets for this session on the making of The Great YES, the Great NO are very limited, they will be sure to sell out fast. Make sure to book early. 

For the Sunday programme click here. The highlight of this day’s events for me would be the performance by the celebrated dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma of Cion:Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero and The Head and the Load fame, amongst MANY other performances.  Tickets for this session are also very limited so again, make sure to book early.

FNB Art Joburg 

A week later Joburg’s leading art fair runs at the Sandton Convention Centre.  As always there will be a range of works by artists shown by South Africa’s premiere art galleries as well as lesser-known ones, many talks and lots of good fair food and drinks on offer.  Their website is very sparse so at the time of writing there is still no detail of the talks programme. 

Open City  

While the FNB Art fair is a fairly exclusive affair with day only tickets at R150 and a 3-day ticket at R360, during the 16 days from the end of August, Open City offers a more inclusive experience to a wider audience with free access across the city to a range of art, music, performance, food and fashion.  Below is a list of some events: openings, performances, panel discussions, walkabouts, fashion displays, children’s story telling. Certainly something for all.  


Some of the events in early September

Blessing Ngobeni’s Chaotic Pleasure (2020) Ntsumi Ya Vutomi  at the Standard Bank Gallery until 16th September  

This large exhibition which includes collaged works, videos, installations and sculptures is a continuation of Ngobeni’s 2020 exhibition for the Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year. It provides a powerful commentary on the legacy of apartheid and the social ills of contemporary society. Ngobeni wants to right these ills of the past and confront the ongoing inequities. Ntsumi Ya Vutomi means “Messenger of experience” in Tsonga although elsewhere it is translated in much blunter less poetic more politico-rhetoric: “Messenger of the black experience in neo-colonial apartheid masquerading as a liberal democracy”.  Many of the works recall the neo-expressionistic work of Basquiat, the emotive distortions of Picasso and Dumile Feni, and the figural installations of Jane Alexander.  They command engagement. 

Power of Time 2022; acrylic and collage on canvas 165 x 360 cm. Photo courtesy: Blessing Ngobeni Standard Bank Gallery catalogue

re-weaving m/other: an exhibition of works by Bev Butkow at Origins Centre, Wits until 30th Sept 

Butkow, a one-time accountant, now turned artist, social activist, wife, and mother of four children, makes a point of foregrounding all these parts of her life. I am way out of touch with current feminist theory but did come across Andrea O’Reilly’s A Feminism for Mothers and felt her matricentric feminism might strike a chord with Butkow, both in her art making and in her way of being in the world. 

Several themes emerge in Butkow’s art. She works in a very physical way – physical in that the materials have a very tactile and tangible presence: textile scraps, beads, wool, string, paint, masking tape, thread, net which are woven and stitched together in a very visible way. The process of making is not masked or hidden and informs how we as viewer respond to the works. This exhibition invites viewers to engage physically with the works, both in moving through the environment and space as well as responding to the tactility of the materials and installations.  The off-cuts and scraps that Butkow uses in her works, speak of her concern about the material waste that is accumulated in our contemporary throw-away culture. Linked to this is her concern with the footprints and traces of our existence and the impact we have – socially and environmentally. Seemingly linked to a mothering feminism, Butkow also emphasizes the value of women’s labour whether it be in mothering in the traditional sense, or nurturing in both the studio and the domestic space; or the hours spent in thinking about and then making a work.  Listed in the materials used in making the artwork reproduced below is “time and effort”. 

Of generations past, and future  Made with Thandiswa Maxinyane  2023  Thread, dressmaking scraps, copper
rod, time and effort 380 x 170 cm

Get your calendars out. 


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