Deborah Bell - Lovers in a Cinema
'The collection of any art museum is like an iceberg. An iceberg floats in deep waters and is subject to changing currents, with less than ten percent of its mass visible above the surface at any time. Similarly, the collection in this art museum is only partially visible; most of it remaining unseen in safe, climate-controlled storage.
A museum can also be likened to a fishing-net. Catching passing objects by acquisition, it suspends them in time. While thematic exhibitions can often make a museum's unseen objects temporarily visible, some objects can remain consistently unseen for many years. Concealed along with them are the history and the much larger picture of the museum's shifting aspirations and collecting priorities over many years.
The prized museum acquisitions of yesteryear may well not appeal to our present-day taste or even relate to our self-definition in the political present. What now seems "new" and fresh in contemporary art inevitably becomes "period". It may even seem old-fashioned, derisory and dated to future generations. Such objects, however, remain the material embodiments of the cultural priorities and ideas of their time.
This exhibition of selections from our collection celebrates its depth and variety. Amassed over the past 140 years, the collection reflects its genesis as a colonial concept transplanted on the tip of Africa yet also points toward the growth and strength of a new and diverse South African visual arts identity in the postcolonial present.'
Exhibition: Objects in the Tide of Time