An art exhibition entitled Artefactum opened as part of the Woordfees 2019 at Neethlingshof Estate in Stellenbosch on Friday evening, the first art exhibition to be held at this leading wine estate’s new art space.
The opening address of the exhibition was done by Dr Morne Mostert, Director of the University of Stellenbosch’s Institute for Futures Research, who introduced the audience to an exhibition focusing on the personalisation of objects by various acclaimed artists as a way of defining the self through an eclectic collection of contemporary artefacts and designer articles.
Mostert spoke on the relationship between wine and art, and explored what these art forms do for the human experience. “The creation of both art and wine requires not only science but also creativity,” he said.
“Both endeavours confront us in the present as they enable the experience of joy. Furthermore, both often aid in reflection of the past and in the examination of alternative futures.”
Mostert said art has mirrored the exponential increase in social complexity and, just as with social dynamics, has become increasingly complex itself – in the same way as the global wine industry has become progressively more multifaceted.
“This has made art and wine both more opaque and more accessible, as the art of interpretation and enjoyment has deepened beyond the simple recognition of previous patterns through abstract visualization in art, or simple ‘quaffability’ in wine,” he said.
“One connection with Futures Thinking, is that the future has similarly become more vague and less subject to artless projection and interpretation.”
But, said Mostert, herein lies the opportunity: this simultaneously means that the future is now also subject to imagination and design; more so than at any other time in history. This makes Futures Thinking a liberating pursuit, as society is not destined to a predetermined future. Art aids the process of imagination by inspiring deep reflection and acting as catalyst for creativity.
“The Artefactum exhibition, curated by Corlie de Cock, is a good example of what is known as ‘transdisciplinary’ work, in which apparently disparate fields are connected,” he said.
“Art and Futures Thinking, for example, are also coupled in a new book, published by the Stellenbosch University Museum, entitled Forward – The future(s) of higher education.”
The book, edited by Mostert, was produced as part of the university’s centenary celebration, on the occasion of the Forward? Forward! Forward… art exhibition on campus and contains photographs of the art work of the exhibition, supported by ten creative articles that imagine the future of higher education in the next 100 years from multiple perspectives.
Mostert concluded that the trait of curiosity and the competence of creativity are essential to the realisation of alternative, more preferable futures.
“Outdated, spreadsheet-type thinking has shown its limitations for social progress. In a complex industry like wine, and within a dynamic, open developing economy like South Africa, these emerging insights on creative imagination may act as new catalysts to prosperity.”
Artefactum includes works by Henk Serfontein, Madelein Marincowitz, Aidon Westcott, Rae Goosen, Martin and Charmaine Haines, Beckwith Kraft, Grace Kotze and Oppermann Designs, and will be on show at Neethlingshof Estate until the end of March.