Book Review – Positions

edited by Peter Anders and M. Krouse (Jacana) ISBN: 9781770098893

This book is a collection of essays about contemporary artists in South Africa, first published in German, as part of a German series on how art responds to globalisation. Or in the editor’s words, ‘how artists face the challenge of engaging with the past while making sense of the present’.

Various artists are put in the spotlight and discuss their perspective: from famous poets, playwrights, photographers to filmmakers, dancers and performance artists. Also included are three initiatives with a collective voice.

‘Modern works do not have audiences, they make them,’ says choreographer Boyzie Cekwana and this book certainly succeeded in creating an audience. South Africa is bursting full of talent. Most of the interviews and stories captured me.

It was the frankness of the cartoonist Zapiro, the ranting of rap poet Rampolokeng and the vulnerability of graffiti-inspired conceptual artist Kudzanai Chiurai, to name a few. The picture of Chiurai’s work is used as the book cover.

The layout of Positions is beautiful and appealing, with pictures of the artists and their art. So in this case: judge the book by its cover!

I can recommend it not only for art lovers, but for everyone who sees the cultural richness of South Africa.

Pauline Vijverberg