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Vermaak | Entertainment > Visueel | Visual > Artikels | Articles > Present History: Heidi Erdmann chats to Steyn du Toit about the past ten years as gallery owner

Present History: Heidi Erdmann chats to Steyn du Toit about the past ten years as gallery owner

Steyn du Toit - 2011-05-19
Untitled Document

Welcome to the jungle, Karlien de Villiers

Heidi Erdmann has been involved with the local art scene as both curator and gallery owner of The Photographers Gallery ZA & ERDMANNCONTEMPORARY. To mark the 10th anniversary of her gallery she will present a series of exhibitions.

The first of these exhibitions, Present History, coincides with a street party in the newly pedestrianised Shortmarket street on 25 May at 18:00. For more information visit www.erdmanncontemporary.co.za.

The exhibition itself runs until the end of June, after which Cape Town photographer Gary Van Wyk's exhibition Public Private will be on view in July. Present History Part II opens in August and will feature a selection of works which have been exhibited at the gallery over the past ten years. 

Heidi Erdmann recalls some of the highlights over the last decade and shares some Cape Town art tips with Steyn du Toit.

This new exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of your gallery. Is it still worth it after all these years?

It is very different – the art scene has changed a lot over the past ten years.  There are so many more galleries now, and in some cases the dealers have become younger.  There also seems to be a trend for older people to open up galleries as a second career path. I have enjoyed an exciting career, and many of the artists have I worked with have developed into successful international artists. Yes, it is still very much worth every effort. I do not think there are short cuts with a gallery – it takes time to become established, and lots of hard work.          

The Executroid, by Diana Hyslop

What have been some defining moments/exhibitions in the past ten years for the gallery?

The Guy Tillim exhibition Child Soldiers Sierra Leone in 2002, which formed part of the Month of Photography festival that year, was a defining moment for photography in general and not just for me or the gallery. Reportage photography was slowly crossing over into the gallery space. War photographer James Nachtwey's exhibition at the Center for Photography in New York in 2000 was also such a moment. In terms of comic art I absolutely loved hosting Italian artist Laurina Paperina in Cape Town in 2006.  It was the only time visitors to the gallery left holding their stomachs from all the laughter! She is a great artist and it was a real honour to host that show. A defining moment for my gallery was to be invited to participate in Photo San Francisco in 2005 and Photo LA in 2006.    

Why the decision to open the "celebrations" with Present History?

I am a female dealer and when I opened my gallery ten years ago one could count them on one hand, among them Linda Givon and Reeva Cohen. Present History pays homage to women, and I handpicked them for very specific reasons.  Karlien de Villiers forms part of my history – she was included in a project I curated in 1998. Marna Hattingh, Haidee Nel and Diana Hyslop represent the Present and thus the future. Their work collectively represents what my gallery mission is. Sculpture is the only medium I have tried as a creative person, and therefore you will always find sculpture at my gallery. Haidee won the Vuleka Award in 2010 with her piece which will be included in the show. However, I am also hosting a Part II of Present History in August which will showcase a selection of works shown at my gallery over the past ten years. 

What else is exciting in the art community in Cape Town at the moment?

What has definitely changed is that there is more on offer now in Cape Town, and by that I mean culturally in the broadest sense. Ten years ago there were fewer events, but in some way these events were more like happenings! I recall an exhibition opening at the Castle in 1995 which was a huge event – it felt like everyone was there that night. I am planning a huge party for Present History Part II with some live music playing in the street.

Dance, Marna Hattingh