Wednesday, August 30, 2006

African art

The Keiskamma Altarpiece, 2005
The Keiskamma Art Project Artists
Keiskamma, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Embroidery, beadwork, wirework,
photographs, wood frame
13' x 22'
Collection of the Keiskamma Trust

Created by the women of the coastal town of Hamburg, in South Africa’s largely rural, poverty-stricken Eastern Cape Province, the Keiskamma Altarpiece is a message of hope for people who are contending with the devastation that AIDS has wrought in their lives in the midst of poverty and other hardships. Making its first voyage out of its homeland, the Keiskamma Altarpiece will have a three-venue journey to North America this summer with stops in Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

After its appearance at the Sixteenth International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the Altarpiece has traveled to Chicago for a month-long stay at St. James Episcopal Cathedral. From Chicago the Altarpiece will go to the University of California at Los Angeles for several months’ installation hosted by the UCLA AIDS Institute and UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Art.

The Keiskamma Altarpiece is the second monumental artwork made by the women of the coastal town of Hamburg, located in South Africa’s largely rural Eastern Cape Province. The first such piece, the 43 meter (138 ft) “Democracy Tapestry”, inspired by the famed Bayeux Tapestry, presents the history of South Africa’s first ten years of democracy.

The Keiskamma Altarpiece was made using embroidery, beadwork, wire sculpture, and photographs. Its shape and dimensions (6.5 meters wide when fully open and 4.2 meters high) exactly replicates those the multi-panel format of the famed Isenheim Altarpiece, now in Colmar, France. Moreover, the synchronicity between the two is not limited to size and shape. The Keiskamma Altarpiece reflects a kindred spirit the Isenheim, both of them created in the face of a devastating plague wreaking havoc on their communities....

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