Ik Ben Een Afrikander III launches as part of the Absa KKNK
Ronél de Jager assists, Teresa Lizamore on the Ik ben een Afrikander projects
On the 31 March 2012, Artspace Gallery’s Ik Ben Een Afrikander project launches its third visual art exhibition as part of the Absa KKNK 2012.
The project seeks to engage the rising voices of new Afrikaans intellectuals, artists, poets and literary thinkers who have been grappling with the concept of an Afrikaner identity that is not merely a now shameful label from a time the country is trying to forget.
Ik Ben Een Afrikander III is a compelling exhibition that deals with the dichotomy of the historical baggage intrinsically tied to being Afrikaans. The show features the work of visual artists Willem Boshoff, Francki Burger, Hannelie Coetzee, Pauline Gutter, Danelle Janse van Rensburg, Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, Madelein Marincowitz, Clare Menck, John Murray, Louis Olivier, Richardt Strydom, Cobus van Bosch, Engela van der Hoven, Jan van der Merwe, Reney Warrington.
This exhibition follows the success of the projects two shows thus far being Ik ben Een Afrikander I and II (I am an African) which were group exhibitions at respectively Artspace Gallery in June 2011 and the Stellenbosch University Word Fest in March 2012.
Says curator Teresa Lizamore on why she launched the project:
“As an Afrikaner of a certain age I was raised during Apartheid and also witnessed its downfall. I must point out that although my roots are Afrikaans, I went to an English school, an Afrikaans church, and my parents both being Afrikaans, spoke to me and my siblings in English, so I ask the questions, what makes an Afrikaaner?”
“One thing that as an Afrikaner I have never been allowed to easily say is that I am an African. During the height of Apartheid, African meant black. To the white, superior race, being African, or in any way black, or a sympathiser with a black, was the worst thing to be. It was for some punished by death. Now that the tables have turned, trying to claim that I am also an African, born, bred and invested in this country, is almost as contentious a matter and often seen as downright insulting.It has been an interesting irony then to examine the roots of the term “Afrikaner”.
According to records, the first person, or by some accounts, the first European, recorded to have identified himself as an Afrikaner was Dutch settler Hendrik Biebouw, who, in March 1707, stated, Ik ben een Afrikander. Although accounts of this incident vary, and interpretations of spelling and intonation of the phrase also vary, he is widely considered to have meant, I am an African. At the time he spoke the words (or drunkenly shouted them, depends on who you believe), he was resisting expulsion from the Cape Colony by the Magistrate of Stellenbosch. As Wikipedia puts it, he was showing “loyalty and a sense of belonging to the territory of modern South Africa, rather than to any ancestral homeland in Europe.
In 1996 many years after colonial occupation, then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, started his now iconic speech on behalf of the ANC with the famous phrase, "I am an African" following ironically with the phrase "Not because I was born there, but because my heart beats with Africa."
Says Lizamore, “Curating an exhibition in 2011 in my Johannesburg based gallery titled Ik ben een Afrikander, I asked Afrikaans artists to respond to this dichotomy. Due to a rush of media and critical attention that both the exhibition and the underlying issue received, I felt it was a project I could not just walk away from, after one show. There are so many more artists than our Rosebank gallery can accommodate - and so many layers to explore. If we are indeed all Africans, then artists of all colours and creeds have a valid contribution to make to this debate”.
“There is a wonderful synchronicity in that the second exhibition of the project was presented at the Stellenbosch University Word Fest 2012 where the whole story began. With a publication of the project, I hope to have begun a long term debate that makes us more aware of the never ending process of how we construct identity, and in particular Afrikaner, and African identity”.
Ik Ben Een Afrikander llI opens at the Absa KKNK 2012 on 31 March 2012 and closes on 7 April 2012.
For more information on this project and the artists please contact Artspace at:
+27(0)11 880 8802
- MARCH 2012
Richardt Strydom. 2012. Dubul' ibhunu #2. Digital print on Somerset velvet 100% cotton paper, edition of 10, 59 x 89 cm
Download the Ik ben een Afrikander catalogue
Willem Boshoff. 2012. TIEN TEEN EEN (artist’s rendition).
Text etched onto aluminium plate, 150 x 120 x 3 cm
Francki Burger. 2011. Observer I (Goed Waargenome I).
Hand printed black & white silver fiber based print, 40 x 40 cm
Cobus van Bosch. 2011. Die Afrikaners: Portret van die Orlam-leier Jan Jonker Afrikaner en raadslede, 1876, Noord-Kaap of Namibië.
Oil on canvas, 76 x 102 cm