Problems presented by New Media in South African public art collections

Cronje, Franci
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This research examines specific instances in the development of New Media in South African art from 1980 to the present. I focus on the apparent discrepancy between de facto practices in South African art today and the 'official' representation of this art in local art museums. Preliminary research indicated that despite the manifest increase of New Media works in local artistic production, as well as exhibitions devoted to New Media work the last decade, this tendency is not adequately reflected in the public collections (and display) of local art museums. In my research I investigate the status of New Media in public art collections and the reasons for this apparent discrepancy. Significant parallels exist between the development of New Media and that of Photography in relation to their position in the field of artistic practice. I track the development of New Media with regard to international artistic practice and local developments, and pinpoint financial, logistical and infrastructural issues mentioned in curatorial circles. Additionally, I investigate the problems of New Media with regard to the definition of art as a unique material object, and curatorial attitudes within the public institutions. Three case studies, concerning the work of William Kentridge, Nathaniel Stern, and the Trinity Session span a historical, progressive and currently successful scenario regarding artistic production and display. The practical component of this research comprised two projects: an art performance event and an exhibition of three video works (one in installation form), a series of digital prints on etching paper and a sculptural installation. I have applied principles in international production and display of New Media works to the presentation of my own installations, especially regarding the editioning and valuation of digital prints and Video DVD works.
new media, south africa, arts