Masterpieces from Matisse in South Africa

This year’s National Arts Festival may have come to an end but you can still get your art fix at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. A large number of works by Henri Matisse will be on display for all to enjoy, thanks to support from the Embassy of France to South Africa. This is the first wide-ranging exhibition of Matisse’s work to be held in South Africa


The exhibition will be supplemented by an education programme, so that learners can appreciate the masterpieces as much as a connoisseur would. Wilhelm van Rensburg, curator of education for the exhibition, is a Research Fellow at the Visual Identities in Art & Design (VIAD) research centre in the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg. For a full understanding of how the exhibition programme will take place, you can listen to his Think!Fest presentation below.

It’s not enough to place colours, however beautiful, one beside the other; colours must also react on one another. Otherwise, you have cacophony. Jazz is rhythm and meaning. – Matisse

Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning will be on display at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg from 13 July to 17 September 2016.

Free education, free speech and responsibility.

Is Free Higher Education Possible in South Africa Panel Discussion                                                         Chaired by Judge Dennis Davis

‘Who is in the room?’ Activist Lindsay Maasdorp would ask this of the audience several times throughout his opening address. With a judge and a university vice chancellor on the panel and a R40 barrier of entry into the discussion space, Maasdorp was criticising the exclusivity and reaffirmation of privilege in spaces such as Think!Fest. Neither Maasdorp nor anyone else in the room could have anticipated that this issue would manifest itself dramatically in response to his original question; ‘Who is in the room?’

The full audio, as well as comments from the panellists can be found below.

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Theatre inspired by words

“What we have seen in the festival this week, is words that have inspired, conspired, interrogated, critiqued, analysed and reflected and I could add a lot more to that,” says Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival.

“Artists have always found inspiration somewhere,” says Mahomed. South Africa has a history of producing dynamic and empathetic works particularly during times of oppression and suffering.  The struggle brings people together and provokes stories portraying the indomitable human spirit.


The authors of My Johannesburg

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Challenging widespread perceptions of dagga use

Who smokes weed? Why do these people use it? What effect does weed have on society? What do we do about this drug “problem”? These are some of the questions that are often answered with stereotypes and misconceptions, either by ourselves or the people around us based on a lack of knowledge or being misinformed. The process of challenging these perceptions around cannabis began with an introduction to the legal aspects of usage and decriminalisation. A follow-up panel at Think!Fest explored the social and medical aspects of decriminalising cannabis.


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Conflict Reporting with Paula Slier

After 15 years of front line reporting as the Middle East Bureau Chief at Russia Today (RT), Paula Slier has had extensive experience reporting in war zones.

In this presentation Paula discusses new dangers faced by conflict journalists, the risks and unique advantages of reporting on conflict as a woman, the difficulty of validating information and the state of various refugee camps in Europe.


Slier spent half of her presentation answering questions from the audience, graciously giving comprehensive explanations of various crises in the Middle East and the nature of international media.

The difficulty of dealing with gender-based violence

How do you unsettle, unlearn and undo gender based violence? Many conversations have been had and hopefully, will continue to be had about the subject. It’s often easy to walk away feeling dizzy and hopeless at the realisation of how multifaceted the subject is and wondering where to begin in order to move forward. Panelists Catriona Mcleod, Gorata Chengeta, Lisa Vetten, Nadine Joseph and Nonhle Skosana discussed why sexual violence continues to be such a difficult subject to tackle.

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Third World Bunfight: Twenty years of Theatre

‘How do I describe 20 years of performances in 50 minutes?’

Brett Bailey, the new Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival and Creative Director of Third World Bunfight, spent well over 50 minutes on this task on Sunday. The presentation was a dense, deep unpacking of his wide body of work that was a pleasure to watch.

Over the last 20 years Brett Bailey produced over a dozen performances, including IpiZombi, MacBeth, Big DadaHouse of the Holy Afro and Terminal. These productions have taken the form of theatre productions, moving installations, operas, site-specific performances and house music shows.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Third World Bunfight show, Zombie, at the National Arts Festival. Continue reading