FNB Vita Art Prize 2002
This year the FNB Vita Art Prize exhibits an interesting diversity and range of medium, process and aesthetic. Most artists have engaged with mirroring societal issues, reflecting on important aspects of South Africa today: race, Diaspora, land claims, gender, spiritual concerns, economics and ethics. The notion of place and community is explored in the work of both Usha Seejarim and Bronwen Findlay's collaboration with Daina Mabunda and Faiza Galdhari: this work is a sensitive interplay of identity and materiality. Through Seejarim's work we are given an opportunity to accompany her and witness intimate personal narratives by people in her community. Wafer's powerful use of codified language explores the relationship between land people and art. Fourie's impenetrable wall aggressively denies access and stands in contrast to, and protective of, the projected fleeting images of loss, transience and intimacy.
This year's winner, Alan Alborough, is both the most difficult and the easiest choice. Difficult because of the work's clever manipulation of circumstances, conceptual underpinning and its impact on the audience/viewer. Easy because once you get it, there is no other choice. It is an extremely apt use of space and place in a deconstruction of the institution of art as well as the particular moment in South Africa. Alborough's artwork exposes the binaries of gallery/artist, viewer/object and context/subject. He draws the viewer into a game of chance and choice. By selecting Left or Right the viewer is presented with a series of choices that are continuously mirrored in a perpetual cycle. This territory is a negotiated one, of trying to bring all the pieces together. Choices we face daily range from simple to major and from the personal to the political. The success of the work is its ability to be at once evasive and inclusive. The viewer is invited to enter into the process, choose sides and retain a memento, but cannot ever possess the work in all its complexity. The work is democratic and didactic in allowing each viewer to walk away with an original artwork. It is witty, beautifully crafted and thoroughly thought out.