Die Burger, Julie 19 2003
Konsep-gedagte neig na uiterste                                                [English translation]
Deur Melvyn Minnaar

TETOONSTELLING: work[ing/in] pro[cess/gress] deur Alan Alborough.
In die Sasol-Kunsmuseum, Stellenbosch. Tot die einde Oktober.

VAN niks tot iets, of van iets tot niks, en dan die dilemma om 'n houvas daarop te kry - of nie! Dié speelse paradoks en, in soms 'n paradoksale spel self, is kenmerkend van Alborough se kuns wat 'n mens met omstigtigheid as konseptuele beeldhouwerk kan beskryf.

Dié versigtige beskrywing is ook maar 'n benadering, want slim en gevat soos hy in die spel is - wat, soos in hierdie geval, ook een van woorde insluit - is daar altyd die kans dat hy die "konsep" van sy sogenaamde konseptuele kuns in 'n aweregse koers injaag.

So is dit byvoorbeeld moontlik dat die mees geesdriftige ondersteuner/kunsliefheber glad nie hierdie "tentoonstelling" sin of ervaar nie. Dis moontlik dat bloot deur die empiriese gegewe in die Sasol-museum te verduidelik en dan te spekuleer oor hoe dit aansluit by die title, ons pens-en-pootjies binne-in Alborough se "kunswerk" is. Dis 'n oulaai van Alborough om die o╠ănskynlike gegewe/ verwagte te ondermyn. En hier is die teenwoordigheid van die "kunswerk" weer nie noodwendig die fisieke teenwoordigheid van die elemente wat hy aan ons voorhou nie.

Wat ons in die mooi museumruimte aantref, is eerstens die vernuftige betrokkenheid van die oop sirkel in die hooflokaal tussen die grond- en eerste verdieping by die projek. Dié elegante ruimte wat geakitveer is met 'n rits nywerheidspenne en -spoele wat soos tekstielspeke met presiese re╠ălmaat rondom aan die balustrade geklem is.

Die materiale wat gebruik word, is industrie-neutraal en klaarblyklik standard-fabrieksobjekte van plastiek, politieen en metal in tipiese kleure van swart, blou en deursigtig.

In netjiese hopies duskant, kry ons presies uitgepakte bottlels, houers, skroeftoppe van verkseie groottes, rolle kunstou, houers met sout en water. Alles in die gees van kunsmatige produksie, fabriek-presies en afgemeet.

Die gevoel en atmosfeer is een van noukeurige bedryf en skepping. Natuurlik is dít wat die lomperige woordspel van die titel ons voorhou en op sisnspeel: hier is "werk", "proses", "progressie".

Die vraag is wat? Maar Alborough gaan ons nie vertel nie.

Om die draai teen die museummuur gespyker, hang daar 'n swetterjoel "kunswerkies-in-wording" wat deur 'n horde kinders die afgelope paar weke gedurende byeenkomste in die museum gemaak is. Elke kleuter se naam is netjies aan 'n swaaikaartjie daaraan. (Hierdie "kunstenaars" gaan nie anoniem bly nie!)

Die werkies is een van die oudste van die ouderwetse speletjies waarmee kinders hul besig hou: tolletjiebrei - 'n reeks spykertjies op 'n ou garingtol waarmee 'n "wolworsie" gehekel word.

Alborough se prettige spel met die groot balkon en sy aangehegte speke is dus duidelik. En weer laat hy die vraag of daar wel iets gebeur of nie. Is dit die kunstenar se taak? Of gaan/ moet iemand anders dit doen?

In 'n deurdagte essay oor sy Vita-pryswerk verlede jaar (wat betekenisvol genoeg bloot as fotodokumentasie op die Aardklopfees gewys is) dui prof. Sandra Klopper op Alborough se nuk om die kunstenaar (himself) al hoe meer van die kunswerk/ kunsmaak te verwyder. Met ander woorde, hy neig om die konsepgedagte tot sy uiterste te dwing.

Die gevaar is natuurlik dat dit verby die punt van enige buitestander se betrokkenheid kan wentel: Ons praat van niks.


Die Burger, 19 July 2003 [English translation]
Concept - idea tends towards the extreme
By Melvyn Minnaar

From nothing to something, or from something to nothing, and then the dilemma of attaining a hold over it, or not! This playful paradox, sometimes in the form of a paradoxal game in itself, is characteristic of Alborough's art that one could, with cautiousness, describe as conceptual sculpture.

This cautious description is merely an approach, because, clever and witty as he is in this game - a game which in this case also includes one of words - the chance of his sending the "concept" of his so-called conceptual art into a preposterous direction, always exists.

It is therefore, for example, always possible that the most enthusiastic supporter/art lover never sees or experiences this "exhibition". It is possible that, through merely explaining the empirical given in the Sasol Museum and then to speculate about its connection with the title, we are squarely in his "art work".

It is an old trick of Alborough's to undermine the apparent given/expected. And here, once again, the presence of the "art work" ("object") is not necessarily the physical presence of the elements that he presents to us.

What we find in the beautiful museum space is first of all the project's clever involvement of the open circle in the main hall between the ground- and first floors. This elegant space is activated by a series of industrial spikes and bobbins clasped around the balustrade with exact regularity, reminiscent of textile spokes.

The materials are industrially neutral and apparently standard factory objects of plastic, polythene and metal in typical colours of black, blue and transparency.

Nearby, in tidy little piles, we find neatly unpacked bottles, containers, screw tops of various sizes, bundles of artificial rope, containers with salt and water. All in the spirit of artificial production, factory-precise and measured.

The feeling and atmosphere is one of painstaking industry and creation. Of course this is what the awkward wordplay of the title proffers and alludes to: here is "work", "process", "progress".

The question is what? But Alborough will not tell us.

Around the corner, nailed to the museum wall, hangs a multitude of "little works-of-art-in-progress" created by hordes of children in workshops held in the museum during recent weeks. Each younster's name is neatly tagged to a work. (These artists are not going to remain anonymous!)

These little works represent one of the oldest forms of obsolete games children occupy themselves with: French knitting ("tolletjiebrei" or "spool knitting")- a number of nails nailed onto an old wooden cotton spool with which a "woolen sausage" is knitted.Alborough's playful game with the big balcony and his attached spokes is clear. And again he leaves the viewer with the question whether something happens or not. Or will/should someone else do it?

In a considered essay on his Vita Award work of last year (which was meaningful enough in itself as a photographic documentation exhibited on the Aardklop Festival) Professor Sandra Klopper refers to Alborough's whim to increasingly remove the artist (himself) from the art work / art making process. In other words, he tends to force the concept to its extreme.

The danger is of course that it could spin beyond the point of any outsider's involvement: We speak of nothing.