January 30, 2003
SMITH EXHIBITION TO FEATURE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BY SOUTH AFRICAN ARTIST MINNETTE VÁRI
Vári Will Discuss
Work in Free, Public Talk Feb. 28
Editor's note: Digital images
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-An exhibition of
video installations by South African artist Minnette Vári
will be held Feb. 17 to March 5 in the Jannotta Gallery of the
Brown Fine Arts Center at Smith College.
A digital video, performance and installation artist, Vári
uses innovative digital video techniques to map images of her
own body into scenes from mainstream media.
The exhibition, curated by Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
John Peffer, will present two video installations by Vári:
"Alien" will be shown Feb. 17 to 25, and "Oracle"
will be shown Feb. 26 to March 5.
Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday;
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon
to midnight Sunday.
In addition, Vári will present a talk about the relationship
of her work to international media images of South Africa at
4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 28, in Graham Hall, Brown Fine Arts Center.
The exhibition and talk are free, open to the public and wheelchair
According to Peffer, Vári's video art is critical of the
relationship between the (female) body and the continuous stream
of media images that surround it.
"By moving beyond straightforward ideas of identity and
the possibility of identity being directly represented in art
and visual culture, Vári's concerns are at once more poetic,
and more monumental," he explains.
In "Alien" (1998) Vári refashions televised
images of South Africa as "foreign" to her. She attempts,
awkwardly, to reinsert herself into the spectacularized and repetitive
form media has made of everyday events surrounding South Africa's
transition to democracy. In "Oracle" (1999), she recasts
herself as Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Children" by
voraciously cramming all the conflicting and mediated histories
of present-day Africa into her mouth, swallowing and gagging
on them. The figure becomes a model for postcolonial identity,
craving to assimilate every fragment of contradictory information
into one hybrid body.
The exhibition of Vári's work was made possible with the
support of the college's Dorius/Spofford Fund for the Study of
Civil Liberties and Freedom of Expression, which supports programs
dealing with issues of citizenship, censorship, creativity, and
contemporary political and social repression associated with
sexual identity and expression.
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Vári's lecture is part of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute's
project "The Diaspora-as-Object in Contemporary Visual Culture,"
taking place Feb. 28 to March 1. More information is available