Curated by Khwezi Gule, the chief curator of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, All Your Faves Are Problematic is intended to provoke different ways of thinking about South African art.
For the most part, South African modern and contemporary art is treated with some kind of reverence and an uncritical attitude. It is also treated as if it is above the contemporary social and political contestations that are evident in South African public discourse. For most of us, we arrive at our lists of ‘faves’ simply because these artists have been taught to us at high school and tertiary institutions as the vanguard of artistic expression.
We accept this attitude without question or by asking the wrong questions. Take this fave over here: the art world has always thought Kendell Geers was problematic but for the wrong reasons. In the late 1980s and 1990s people objected to his work because they felt it crossed the boundaries of taste, while others wondered if it was even art. But this is not the most pertinent indictment of his work.
What concerns the curator is how his work, Suitcase (1988) might be interrogated using registers other than Art History. How does a work like this read in relation to Es’kia Mphahlele’s 1954 short story The Suitcase and against Frantz Fanon and Susan Sontag?