This is Our Time

10 June - 16 July 2010

This is Our Time is a curated exhibition of local and foreign artists running concurrently at Brodie/Stevenson in Johannesburg and Michael Stevenson in Cape Town.

The exhibition forms part of the FOREX series which has taken place at Michael Stevenson over the past year. FOREX uses the foreign exchange market as a metaphor for an exchange of artistic ideas with a world beyond Africa, aiming to seek out affinities, illustrate shared frames of reference and explore intellectual kinship. From June 2009 to May 2010 the series has featured solo projects by Zina Saro-Wiwa, Zineb Sedira, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Thomas Hirschhorn, Walid Raad and Glenn Ligon.

Drawing on some of the threads of these shows, This is Our Time is characterised by a heartfelt yet nuanced approach to politics. The exhibition takes its title from a speech given by Barack Obama while visiting Europe before he was elected president of the United States:

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.

In the realm of art, these words recall the disarming declaration of love by Felix Gonzalez-Torres in a letter to his partner, Ross Laycock, scribbled beneath a sketch of his seminal work Perfect Lovers:

Don't be afraid of the clocks, they are our time, time has been so generous to us. We imprinted time with the sweet taste of victory. We conquered fate by meeting at a certain TIME in a certain space. We are a product of the time, therefore we give back credit where it is due: time. (Felix Gonzalez-Torres, 'Letter to Ross Laycock, 1988' in Felix Gonzalez-Torres. New York: steidldangin publishers, 2006)

These two quotations - the politician echoing the artist, the artist auguring the politician - frame This is Our Time. The exhibition brings together art from elsewhere in which we South Africans see glimpses of ourselves, and works by South African artists that resonate within an international framework. Collectively, it offers an approach that eschews binaries while taking positions, offering an uncynical look at a cynical world.

Artists showing in Johannesburg: Pieter Hugo (born 1976, South Africa), Glenn Ligon (1960, USA), Michael MacGarry (1978, South Africa), Mohau Modisakeng (1986, South Africa), Jo Ractliffe (1961, South Africa).

Artists showing in Cape Town: Jane Alexander (1959, South Africa), Marc Bijl (1970, The Netherlands), Shepard Fairey (1970, USA), Meschac Gaba (1961, Benin), Simon Gush (1981, South Africa), Thomas Hirschhorn (1957, Switzerland), Anton Kannemeyer (1967, South Africa), Natasja Kensmil (1973, The Netherlands), MADEYOULOOK (founded 2009, South Africa), Sabelo Mlangeni (1980, South Africa), Zanele Muholi (1972, South Africa), Lucia Nimcova (1977, Slovakia), Serge Alain Nitegeka (1983, Burundi), Berni Searle (1964, South Africa), Penny Siopis (1953, South Africa), Frohawk Two Feathers (1976, USA), Akram Zaatari (1966, Lebanon).

At Brodie/Stevenson the exhibition opens 10 June and runs till 16 July. At Michael Stevenson the exhibition opens on Thursday 3 June and runs till 24 July.

The gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10.30am to 5.30pm, and Saturday from 9.30am to 3pm.

Michael MacGarry

Glenn Ligon