A short interview with Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi from the Goethe Institut about my exhibition Fail Deadly.

The original interview can be found here.


Vincent Bezuidenhout's exhibition Fail Deadly at GoetheonMain interogates apartheid South Africa's nuclear project.

Vincent Bezuidenhout holds a Masters degree in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art and was the the recipient of the 2010/11 Tierney Fellowship. His exhibition Fail Deadly at GoetheonMain interogates apartheid South Africa's nuclear project.

What sparked your initial interest in this particular aspect of the apartheid project; can you explain briefly the personal journey you went through when creating this work?

My practice is concerned with the psychology of power and the validity of memory relative to history. In a previous project, Separate Amenities, I used landscape photographs to focus on the constructed landscape as an expression of the psychology of those who implemented it. In a similar manner I wanted Fail Deadly to reflect on a specific moment in South African history in order to consider the use of power by the architects of apartheid. Initially wanting to create photographs of a secret weapons program which does not exist anymore, the project progressed into an investigation surrounding censorship, the limitations of the medium of photography and in fact the limits to what representation can reveal.

How has your personal upbringing influenced your interest in various aspects of apartheid?

As a white, Afrikaans artist, who grew up in the death throes of apartheid in South Africa, my past have shaped my current practice in terms of a reflection on my identity in relation to the history of power which still shapes our reality today. By conflating the incompatible narratives of my conflicted personal, as well as our collective history, I attempt to use omission and cover ups to confront these incomplete narratives as a manifestation of power.
How do you see your work sit alongside what is being done to change or erase aspects of apartheid from SA’s collective memory?

The lack of disclosure and failure of justice being served regarding this clandestine program speaks to a bigger constructed narrative which permeates all of South African history. Fail Deadly serves to highlight this failure through exploiting the problematic nature of photography and the validity of official information as the sole creators of history.

One of your recent projects, Banned Vol. II, shows footage that was banned during apartheid. Do you think SA’s history of censorship is repeating itself obtrusively and unobtrusively?

The Banned project was censored in Uganda and Zimbabwe for the inclusion of footage of a homosexual nature. Regardless of both countries controversial laws regarding homosexuality, the paradox of censoring footage which was originally banned during apartheid reminds one that when there is a transition of power within a state, the mechanisms of the previous regime is also transferred. We must be vigilant of the rewriting of history but also of how it is created today.

How comfortably do you think the current work ‘Fail Deadly’ sits in the GoetheonMain gallery space which is located in the Maboneng Precinct of Johannesburg?

It is my opinion that if art is not political it is not art. I am also keenly aware of how art and artists are being used by others to advance many different agendas. With increasing inequality, censorship and in fact a ‘war on the truth’ both here and abroad, it is more important than ever for cultural institutions to be brave through strengthening their support for the arts which in many ways have become the last place to speak the truth.

Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi conducted the interview with Vincent Bezuidenhout in July 2016


Interview: Fail Deadly on SAFM

I was recently interviewed about my show, Fail Deadly at Goethe on Main, by Michelle Constance on SAFM. Here is the transcript in which I speak about the history behind this project as well as the origin of the Black Landscape series:

Review: 'Vincent Bezuidenhout's Fail Deadly' by Tymon Smith

'The more one takes in the work with regard to its historical contextualization, the more broader ideas percolate and bubble to the surface of consciousness...Like the so-called evidence that forms its basis ‘Fail Deadly’ with its small but carefully curated selection of pieces raises more questions than it answers but that in itself is part of its appeal and intellectual reward. It provides an elegant demonstration of the cliché that sometimes less is more, more or less. It doesn’t tell you what happened in the middle of the ocean at the edge of the world in September 1979 but it certainly shows you that something did. Something still important enough that it’s on a need-to-know basis and according to someone, no one needs to know'.

Full text on Artthrob.

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In Conversation With Monique Pelser

I recently interviewed South African artist Monique Pelser on the occasion of her latest exhibition, Conversations with my Father, at the Grahamstown National Arts festival in the Alumni Gallery of the Albany Museum, 2015. 

The full  interview can be found on Artthrob.

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Rewriting History: Kemang Wa Lehulere’s History Will Break Your Heart

I recently wrote a review for Artthrob on this years Standard Bank Young Artist Kemang Wa Lehulere. Out of the many South African artists dealing with history, I have found Lehulere's work to be the most engaging.

"The continued re-examination of the still incomplete canon of artists who have not received the recognition they deserve remains urgent and this exhibition furthers the importance of Wa Lehulere’s work at this time. The perspicacious manner in which Lehulere converses with present and past, questioning memory and history, prompts participate in excavating all the layers of our history".

The entire review can be read here.

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Boda Boda Lounge Project: On Censorship

In 2014 I participated in the Boda Boda cross-continental Video Art Festival. Taking place in over 15 spaces throughout the African continent (including Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, Mali, Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde and Uganda) the festival included a video extract from my current project entitled Banned, which uses video footage appropriated from films censored during apartheid. In two of the participating countries namely Uganda and Zimbabwe, both of which have stringent anti homosexual laws, there were issues around some of the content of the work. This led to the work being censored outright in Zimbabwe and eventually shown in Uganda despite tensions around this decision.

As part of the Boda Boda Lounge project publication I wrote a response to this incident in a section called On Censorship, accompanied by essays from Alex Lyons and Mthabisi Phili. The publication also features contributions by Portia Malatjie, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Euridice Kala, Jude Anogwih, Ezra Hube, Erick Musimanje, Molemo Moiloa, Shehab Awad, Elizabeth Giorgis and Patrick Mudekereza.

The complete publication can be found here.


Harvard Design Magazine no. 39

I recently contributed to a great essay in Harvard Design Magazine titled 'Between the Tides of Apartheid.' Written by Pierre Belanger with the assistance of Professors Jean and John Comeroff,  it examines some the research regarding separate amenities I conducted during my MFA at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Harvard Design Magazine is published twice yearly by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

The full essay can be found here

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Installation view: Photoglobal exhibition at the SVA Gramercy Gallery New York City. Curated by Lyle Rexer with participating artists Jean Bettingen, Nima Chaichi, Emmeline De Mooij, Shuruq Harb, Matthieu Lavanchy, Charlotte de Mezamat, Andy Moynehan, Anna Orlowska, Keren Shavit, Quentin Shih, and Saana Wang.

More info here.