Wits Art Museum Presents: WAM After Hours

The Wits Art Museum has already garnered much attention from Johannesburg's art lovers, and it seems the management is keen on staying on the radar. That's where the idea for an after closing time "cocktail party" type of event comes in. This past Friday, the 2nd of August, was the launch of WAM After Hours.

WAM After Hours gave a crowd of curious minds the opportunity to visit the Museum at night, see the work considered for the Martienssen Art Prize 2013 in an exhibition titled "Again, and then again, as well, too", and explore "Meaning Motion", the series of digital art installations by Nathaniel Stern and Tegan Bristow.

Nathaniel and Tegan were interested in how the human body performs meaning, that is: what happens when body language and the spoken or written word meet?
The installations encourage visitors to the museum to walk in front of a motion-sensitive camera, see the words that are projected onto the walls, listen to the sounds that come from the speakers, and really think about what they are saying with their bodies. According to the artists, a closer consideration of how you move your body, and what message that sends in conjunction with what is actually said or heard, could improve communication.

Pictures from African Digital Art and BDLive.

It is a charming concept, and the installations could make for hours of fun (as some of the people exploring them seemed to want to challenge themselves to beat the computer), but the effect which a piece of art has on people beyond its exhibition dates is always questionable.

What was even more questionable about the night out, was the choice of entertainment. At the party on the mezzanine level of the Museum, guests mingled to a soundtrack of eerie, electronic-sounding house music provide by DJ Skelemton- who wore a mask with a skeleton on the front for his performance. The only thing that paralleled that weirdness, was the live visual (i.e. video) installation by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, which featured a scene that was a little too much like something out of a horror movie- but the music was too loud, so I couldn't dwell on what I was seeing.
The entertainment for the night was also a type of collaborative installation, then, as the words "DJ Skelemton vs Sibs Shongwe-La Mer" kept flashing on the screen, indicating that the two were in some sort of "battle for the crowd".

I'm still trying to understand most of what I saw last night (too much art, not enough mind space to fit it all), but I will say that the Wits Art Museum is definitely worth a visit for anyone coming through Braamfontein. It's not as intimidating as I feel most museums are, and there is something for most people's taste. Mostly, it's a place to go when you want to see what other people are doing with/ creating in their lives, and you're looking for something to  motivate you to do something.

The Museum is open between 10:00 and 16:00 from Wednesday to Sunday, with the exclusion of selected public holidays. Entrance free, and donations are welcome.


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