• Posted: Apr 26, 2012

Iziko South African National Gallery
Exhibition 26 April to 22 July 2012

The Iziko South African National Gallery, in partnership with the Standard Bank, the Goethe-Institut and Goodman Gallery, presents a solo exhibition by the Berlin-based South African artist, Candice Breitz.


On view at the South African National Gallery from 26 April to 22 July 2012, Candice Breitz: Extra! presents a substantial body of the artist’s work to Cape audiences for the first time. The exhibition debuted earlier this year with a highly successful run at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. Breitz, who was born in Johannesburg but now lives and works in Berlin, has established a significant international reputation and has exhibited her photographs and video installations worldwide.

Breitz’s exhibition derives its title from her new work Extra (2011), a single-channel video installation and series of photographs created on the set of the soap opera, Generations. Broadcast on SABC 1 since 1994, Generations, South Africa’s most loved soap and the most watched television programme on the African continent, seeks to paint a picture of the country’s emerging black middle class against the backdrop of the media industry. Generations does not include any major white characters in its cast: because much of the script is delivered in Nguni languages, white South Africans (who at this historical juncture
rarely speak indigenous African languages) are absent from this aspirational landscape.

In Extra, Breitz inserts herself into a number of actual scenes from Generations, sometimes subtly, sometimes awkwardly and absurdly, but always without judgement or easy explanation. Here she resonates as a conspicuously white presence amongst an otherwise black cast. The resulting images are simultaneously thought provoking and uncomfortably amusing - implicitly raising questions about what it might mean to be white in the context of the new South Africa, without offering easy answers. Extra was commissioned by the Standard Bank of South Africa.

The exhibition also includes the Ghost Series (1994), an early series of photographs that Breitz made by altering tourist postcards with tippex, polemically interrogating the violence and erasure that whiteness performed under apartheid, at the very moment of that ideology’s demise.

The third body of work in the exhibition, Factum (2010), is a series of dual-channel installations that is similarly concerned with questions around identity and self-formation. Each double portrait in the series, hung on a pair of vertically-installed plasma monitors, juxtaposes the testimonies of a pair of identical twins, whom Breitz interviewed individually and in great depth. As each pair of siblings competes to narrate lives that have been intimately intertwined, the play of similarity and difference between them comes to evoke the struggle that all individuals must negotiate in defining their selfhood in relation to others.

About Candice Breitz

Since the mid-1990s, Candice Breitz has produced a body of work reflecting on various aspects of the structure of identity and psychological identification. In her early photographic work, made shortly after she left South Africa, Breitz used montage and found imagery to thematise the ways in which racial and sexual identity had come to be pictured in apartheid South Africa, within visual contexts ranging from tourist postcards to pornography.

Since 1999, Breitz has predominantly created multi-channel video installations, in which she often explores the relationship between individuals and social bodies. Central to her work is the question of how an individual becomes him- or herself in relation to a larger community, whether the immediate one encountered in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and class; but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and popular music.

Breitz holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Chicago and Columbia University (New York), and has also participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Studies Programme (1996-1997). She has held solo exhibitions of her work at the Pinchuk Art Centre, Kyiv (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2010); White Cube, London (2010); The Power Plant, Toronto (2009); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2008); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2005); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2004); Modern Art Oxford (2003); De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam (2001); and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2000). She has also participated in biennales in Johannesburg (1995, 1997); São Paulo (1998); Istanbul (1999); Kwangju (2000); Taipei (2000); Venice (2005) and Singapore (2011).

Breitz has been a tenured Professor of Fine Art at the Braunschweig University of Art in Germany since 2007.


Candice Breitz, Extra, 2011. Chromogenic Print. 56 x 84 cm. Commissioned by Standard Bank, Johannesburg.

Candice Breitz, Stills from Factum Kang, 2009. Dual-Channel Installation: 2 Hard Drives, Duration: 69 minutes, 10 seconds. Commissioned by The Power Plant, Toronto. Courtesy: Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan) + White Cube (London).

Candice Breitz, Stills from Factum Tremblay, 2009. Dual-Channel Installation: 2 Hard Drives, Duration: 78 minutes, 8 seconds. Commissioned by The Power Plant, Toronto. Courtesy: Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan) + White Cube (London).

Candice Breitz, Stills from Factum McNamara, 2010. Dual-Channel Installation: 2 Hard Drives, Duration: 49 minutes, 29 seconds. Commissioned by The Power Plant, Toronto. Courtesy: Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan) + White Cube (London).

Iziko South African National Gallery
Government Avenue
Company's Garden
Cape Town 8001
Tel: 021 481 3970
Gallery hours: Daily, 10:00 to 17:00

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