Join WRIR DJ’s Sept 29 at VCU’s Anderson Gallery presents:

Join WRIR DJ’s Sept 29 at VCU’s Anderson Gallery

WRIR 97.3’s World Music DJ’s Join Siemon Allen on Panel Sep 29  at VCU’s Anderson Gallery 

Bill Lupoletti, WRIR’s world music director and host of Global A Go-Go, and David Noyes, host of WRIR’s Ambiance Congo and co-host of The Motherland Influence, will join Siemon Allen on Wednesday, September 29 at 6PM at VCU’s Anderson Gallery in a program titled “In The Groove: Collecting and Curating African Music.” The panel of passionate collectors of African music will discuss their motivations, methods, and discoveries.

Imaging South Africa: Collection Project by Siemon Allen, a three-floor installation of large collections of vinyl phonograph records, stamps, and other found objects, continues at Anderson Gallery, 907 1/2 W. Franklin Street, through October 31, 2010.  

records from South Africa: Collection Project

On view at the Anderson Gallery this fall, Imaging South Africa: Collection Projects by Siemon Allen examines the changing image of South Africa through a series of expansive installations. Filling all three floors of the Anderson Gallery, this exhibition offers the most comprehensive presentation to date of Richmond-based, South African artist Siemon Allen’s collection projects.

Imaging South Africa: Collection Projects by Siemon Allen will run concurrently with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition, Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa since 1950—a portion of which will also be on view at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. To celebrate these two compelling and complementary exhibitions, all three venues will host public receptions on Friday, August 27, from 6-9 pm, with free transportation provided between sites.

Over the last decade, Siemon Allen has created instal- lations of various mass-produced materials—postage stamps, newspapers, audio recordings—that he has methodically acquired and catalogued. He approaches each project like an archivist, researching and assembling artifacts to disclose underlying narratives about their production, dissemination, use, and message. Through the social critique that arises from his work, Allen investigates what he describes as “the contradictory and complex nature of South African identity.”

In Stamps, a massive inventory of over 50,000 stamps released in his native country from the colonial era to the present, Allen probes the official construction of an idealized national identity often at odds with social reali- ties. In Newspapers, he examines another image of South Africa, but one constructed externally through the filter of the US news media. With Records, his most recent project consisting of over 2,000 items, Allen has built an extensive ongoing collection of South African music and audio artifacts, with the intention of establishing a web-based archive of this material. The exhibition will also feature a room-sized installation woven out of videotape that he considers a pre- cursor to his collection-based projects.

Allen began assembling Records three years ago when he purchased a 1965 record by the exiled South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba. Struck by the overtly political nature of the album cover’s liner notes, he began to investigate how these artifacts disseminated an anti-apartheid message. Allen has now acquired a nearly comprehensive inventory of international recordings by Makeba, numbering over 400 records, that reveal the global reach of her image and music.

Allen will also show a new series of monumental prints, created from scans of individual records, that uniquely reassert the primacy of music in South African cultural history. Nearly seven feet square, each image powerfully conveys the distressed, topographic surface of the vinyl record on which it is based. “The damage on each record was for me a further marking by unknown authors who have unwittingly contrib- uted their history to the object,” explains Allen. “The images capture not only the historical audio visually in the forms of lines and grooves, but also the scratches, damage and repair work done by subsequent owners.”

Artist’s Biography

 Siemon Allen studied at the Technikon Natal in Durban, South Africa, where he received his Master’s Degree in 1999. While in Durban, Allen was a founding member of the FLAT Gallery, an artist’s initiative that operated during the mid-1990s. His work was included in the 2nd Johannes- burg Biennale as part of the exhibition Graft, and also in the Vita 93 and Vita 98 exhibitions. Stamps has been presented at the Renaissance Society in Chicago,Artists Space in NewYork City,and the Corcoran Museum ofArt inWashington, DC. Newspapers was included in The American Effect at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and in A Fiction of Authenticity at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. Most recently, Allen’s collection projects, includ- ing Records, were shown in solo exhibitions at the Durban Art Gallery and the BANK Gallery, also in Durban.This past spring, selections from Records were featured in the 2010 Johannesburg Art Fair. Now based in Richmond, Allen cur- rently teaches in the Department of Sculpture + Extended Media at the VCU School of the Arts. 

For more information, please visit the Anderson Gallery’s website:

The Anderson Gallery is the exhibition facility for VCU’s top-ranked School of the Arts, located in Richmond,VA at 9071⁄2 West Franklin Street, on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10-5; Saturday and Sunday, noon-5; closed Monday

Jack McHale


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    September 19th, 2010

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