Monday, January 21, 2008

Daddy Buy Me A Pony

Peet Pienaar is a South African performance artist/graphic designer probably best known for his 2000 video which showed him being circumcised in knee-buckling close-up. He's also well-known for dressing up as a rugby player and standing motionless for hours everywhere from the National Gallery in Cape Town to various shopping malls. To him it was a way of exploring the homoerotic aspect of the myths and hero-worship with which players are treated, and the constructs which define masculinity in a patriarchal society but to me it was a guy standing still for a really long time.

I've never been a fan of performance art in that I tend to see it as being all bullshit and very little substance. One of the things that irritated me when I was studying art was the pomposity of it all. People would wax lyrical in crits about the various themes that flowed through their work when in truth all these delusions of grandeur spewed forth like a bad case of verbal diarrhea when they were confronted with the dreaded, 'So what were you trying to portray with this work?' I always found this bit of the week to be excruciatingly pretentious and would do my utmost to avoid it all costs, that and they were always on Mondays when the art cinema across the street was half-priced. Result!

Anyway I'm digressing a bit here. Peet is also behind the graphic design agency Daddy Buy Me A Pony (actually, I'm not even sure if that is the case as I can't find any recent information on the venture, so if anyone knows then get in touch) alongside Heidi Chisholm who have together won numerous Loerie and Golden Clio awards for their work the most impressive examples being their superb Afro magazines. I only have Afro I and for a while it was my gift of choice to various expats in Taipei who yearned for that little bit of South Africa. Afro II was released in 2006 and was yet another dynamic and innovative product and both Afro I and Afro II are great examples of people's creativity not being corroded by budget constraints or second-guessing. Producing something on this scale would be very difficult to recoup any funds from and from what I can gather the two magazines were done purely as marketing devices and if there is any justice in the world it will have served its purpose well. Viva!

Here is an interview that I found on Media Toolbox with Peet on Afro.

What is the aim of Afro?

To introduce people to the amazing new cultural makers from the rest of the continent. We are losing the Picassos and Shakespeares of Africa to Aids and war, and we don't know what they make and we don't know who they are.

Did you have a particular message in mind when you put together Afro 1?

Africa is cool and wonderful.

You seem to be highlighting issues important to Africa - from AIDS and war to soccer and fashion. Which was why I found it interesting that you turned down Tim Hetherington's request to run his 'Missing people in Angola' pictures alongside those of people missing following the Sept 11 attacks in NYC. If Africa wants to be seen in a global (note: not Western) context - can we really afford to look at ourselves in isolation?

I wanted to make a magazine about Africa and Africa alone. We know what is happening in the rest of the world and we don't know enough about our own continent, I'd rather keep it black and white...

For a graphic- and design-intensive publication such as Afro, how do you go about maintaining readability?

We wanted to reach a non-reading audience and only people who read a lot found it [the format] difficult. Other people were so interested by the design that they wanted to read it. We understand it's a problem and we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, so with the next issue it will read better, but still try and get people who don't read to read it.

Afro 1 looks like a gift - wrapped as it is in a colourful map of Africa - but once you open it, it is a lot more serious than the cover paper suggested. Was this intentional?

Yes, people are buying it as gifts ... so the word is spreading when people read it. We see people buy five at a time.

Do you have a favourite image or text from Afro 1?

I must say I loved the story from Eritrea called 'Ghost night' and my favorite design page is the 'Bollywood in Nigeria' page with the Coca-Cola logo.

Tell what you are planning for Afro 2. Will it be similar to Afro 1?

We will keep it as fresh as the first one. It will have some similar things, like it will be like a gift again, etc, but very different, so people will be as excited by it as they were with issue 1.

Below are images from Afro.

...and Afro II

You can see a slide show of all the pages of Afro II here.

And to prove that Peet is a bit flash, this was his business card a few years ago. Must have cost him a small fortune to produce.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey, when you are in Cape Town, lets go for a beer!