Jeffrey Spalding on David Bolduc (1945-2010)

This is something I got from Jeffrey Spalding who is one of Canada’s leading artists, educators and art museum professionals.  As usual, his observations and insightful and informative.  Thank you Jeffrey. David Bolduc (1945-2010) was our leading maker of poetic, lyrical colour abstract paintings and the inheritor of the mantle of modernism within the legacy […]


Vahap Avsar’s Notes On Works And Silence Of Unspeakable

SUPREME This is the first work I have produced after an 11 years hiatus from making and showing art. It was my desire to make a simple and completely conceptual form from an idea I could not manage to get rid of in my head for a long time. ALLAH is the most sacred word […]


Ben Portis on Kent Monkman (Calgary’s Glenbow Museum: Feb 13 – April 25)

Land Claims The first time I visited Kent Monkman’s Toronto studio, four or so years ago, I was taken aback by an unexpected sight. At its center was an immense canvas in progress upon which Monkman was painstakingly copying, from reproduction back to original dimensions, Albert Bierstadt’s Among the Sierra Nevada, California, 1868. Ever quick […]


Marina Abramovic’s Presence at the MOMA

The MoMA has never shied away from presenting artists who challenge the viewer.  Their latest exhibit, featuring performance Yugoslavian-born artist, Marina Abramovic, is no exception.  Abramovic challenges the viewer from the onset.  Want to see the exhibit?  Sure, but you’ll have to squeeze through two nude performers first. This isn’t about sensationalism.  The exhibition is […]


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Die Antwood – Who owns South African Culture?

June 8, 2010 Africa No Comments

Die Antwood’s  (the answer) music video “Enter The Ninja” is the newest South African sensation to hit the “interweb”.   Comprised of angry white guy lead man Ninja (born Waddy Jones), über blonde vixen Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ  Vuilgeboost (aka HI-TEK JUNIOR who occasionally subs for DJ HI-TEK), the group has adopted colored (racially mixed) hip-hop and transformed it into their own “zef” (redneck) music.  This has led to all sorts of discussions concerning the appropriation – or misappropriation – of culture, and the inevitable question, Who owns South African culture?

In other words, What color owns South African culture? Or, for that matter, what color (race) owns what culture?  Can the slave story be told by a white narrator?  Can the Aboriginal story be told by a black narrator?

While history dictates that it cannot, at least not without prejudice, misconception, and omission, South Africa is, if not a melting-pot, a cultural stew.  If anything, the close proximity of cultures cannot help but spill into one another.  Add globalization and multi/trans-culturalism to this mix and “original” or “copyright” become difficult concepts to navigate.

Perhaps K’naan answers the question of who owns what best.  In the video “young artists for Haiti”, K’naan says “what started as my song became their song”.  “Enter The Ninja” is bold, different, a strange intermingling of performance, contemporary commentary, graffiti art, comedy, and anger.

So perhaps the question, Who owns South African culture is moot.  In fact, it could be argued that South Africa’s history of apartheid, post-apartheid, inter-racial, cross-cultural, mish-mash of everything and everyone dictates that the question be moot.  After all, how can you appropriate something that has surrounded you for so many generations?  If anything, Die Antwood pushes the boundaries of race/color and ownership of culture beyond the narrow confines that culture should belong to any one group in particular.  “Enter the Ninja” (Ninja=Japanese) proves this just by the fact that it has become an international sensation – maybe Die Antwood’s international audience doesn’t get every reference, but something is reaching them at some level and forming some form of connection.



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