SMAC Gallery | Stellenbosch
I arrived at the SMAC Gallery opening just in time to hear controversial biographer Ronald Suresh Roberts deliver a stream-of-consciousness lecture on sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the crowd promptly ignored him, snickered and moved towards the bar. It’s likely that Roberts was carefully selected for his incongruity with the subversive art crowd. Roberts’ innocent performance, packaged as a covert aesthetic gesture, overwhelmed the objects and videos in the exhibition, many of which relied on text and ready-mades to deliver the profound-yet-flippant, shock-you-bore-you-fuck-you style that has become ubiquitous in parts of Cape Town. Along with Kathryn Smith, the artists created a book that they launched at the opening, One Million and Forty-Four Thousand Years and Sixty-Three Days, a collection of contributions that address the significance of the avant-garde. Refreshingly, the book, more than Roberts’ performance and the exhibition, avoids tedious and surly in favour of engaged and ironic.