Kendell Geers: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2014 | 01:03:49 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | Video

Collection: Interviews, On Art and Artists, Single Titles

Tags: Art History, Conceptual Art, Language, Magic, Performance, Post-colonialism, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

In this 2014 interview, South African artist Kendell Geers (b. 1968) discusses the function of magic, myth, and memory in his work. Beginning at childhood, Geers charts the path he has taken in his understanding of his own biography as a site of resistance. This interest in the use of personal biography culminated in 1993 with his decision to change his date of birth to May 1968 as a way to reference both the May 1968 student protests, and the fact that 1993 was the first year that South Africa had participated in the Venice Biennale since 1968.

Geers’s fictional biography allowed him to claim his own subjectivity in the face of the falsified structures of meaning that were imposed by South Africa’s apartheid government. As the artist describes, this interest in mythology extended not only to the personal, but also into the domain of mysticism and the ‘magick’ that he believes to animate all great works of art. Geers also discusses his involvement with the first and second Johannesburg Biennials, and how these experiences allowed him to transition from thinking about, “art as a weapon of struggle, to allowing struggle to become a weapon of art.”

Interview conducted by Delinda Collier in February 2014


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