SA’s Transitions launches at Smithsonian


South African artist Paul Emmanuel recently returned to Johannesburg after the successful launch of his project Transitions in Washington DC.

Transitions was presented to a large group of invited guests at a gala function on 12 May 2010 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art. The work garnered acclaim from the public as well as the Washington press. The exhibition was critically reviewed by the art critic of the prestigious Washington Post amongst others, and was filmed by CNN International.

Launched in 2008, Transitions is the artist’s most significant project to date which has received critical acclaim during its showings in South Africa. As an exhibition and film project the work explores moments of shifting white male identity and liminal spaces. It took the artist over four years to research and creates the works.

Transitions comprises a series of five ostensibly “photographic’ works which, when examined closely, are revealed as sensitively hand-drawn, photo-realist sequences of images. These film-like progressions obsessively capture liminal moments of five transitory stages in life. A sixth work titled 3SAI: A Rite Of Passage – a 14 minute film produced by the artist – documents the head shaving of new recruits at the Third South African Infantry Battalion (3SAI) in Kimberley.

3SAI: A Rite Of Passage won the 2009 jury prize in the Short Film Competition at the 4th Africa-In-Motion Film Festival of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in the UK, Recently Emmanuel was invited to join the panel of judges for the 2012 Short Film Competition at the 4th Africa-In-Motion Film Festival. Says Emmanuel, “I am extremely honoured to be asked to join this select and expert panel of judges as well as delighted with the success the film and exhibition has experienced so far’. 3SAI: A Rite Of Passage is currently being shown in Sweden.

The project’s success is the outcome of a focussed process of strategic planning and management on the part of Emmanuel and his Project Manager Les Cohn of Art Source South Africa.

Paul Emmanuel was born in Kabwe, Zambia and graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1993. Emmanuel employs various media, including photography and film, to reveal layered visions concerned with his identity as a young white male living in post-apartheid South Africa.

Transitions will run until the 22 August 2010 Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington DC.


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