Siedell believes that “art works are not merely objects but products of institutional intention and belief, made under certain conditions and intended to be viewed in specific contexts.” If we as artists are to imagine a better synergy artistic practice and religious practice, we need to do the hard work of understanding these beliefs and intentions.
Since the 1980s when The Gift (Lewis Hyde) was first published, more and more alternatives to the traditional market-system have presented themselves – patronage, crowd-funding and community-funded work in non-profit organisations. Or perhaps these subtle gift exchanges have always been part of certain aspects of our lives. Most of the important things in our lives (like parents, mentors, friendship, insight), cannot be monetised (‘I am x amount of Rands worth per hour’). Nonetheless, the bottom-line question for many of the artists in our community remains the same – how do I pay the bills.
Artists are not fatally cast upon their inner brilliance (or lack thereof), but called to the diligent use of their peculiar insights into the givenness of what God has created; a world budding with potentiality in anticipation of his image-bearers to explore and celebrate.
Sekoto was self-taught, he didn’t go to school like people today. And an interesting thing about him; he was born in 1913, in the same year that the Land Act was passed in South Africa. It’s fascinating to see how he interacted with that time, growing up in that era in South Africa.
Inspired by organizations like CIVA, artway.eu, Morphe Arts and The Rabbit Room, South African artists have realised the need for a place where artists can think deeply and come together and dialogue about faith.
Seeking for ‘mentors in hope’ in the troubling times in South Africa and abroad made me reflect on some of the ways Chagall seems to brave despair.