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Willem Boshoff: Reflections of a South African Artist

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ian McDonald


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Shot during the period of his residency at the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg and interspersed with visuals of a retrospective of his works at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the acclaimed artist Willem Boshoff muses upon a life ‘at odds’ with himself, with his own people, and with Apartheid. In providing a personal portrait of one of South Africa’s most enduring artist, the documentary shines a light on a neglected story of opposition and resistance from Afrikaans-speaking South Africans to Apartheid. Willem Boshoff is an innovative piece that transforms the traditional interview format into an intense aesthetic experience. This work experiments on form to surprise the viewer by challenging the journalistic and documentary tropes. By juxtaposing the reflections of the artist with the space his art occupies, the film achieves a unity of form and content. But it is not just his art, Boshoff himself is filmed in ways to debunk the familiar ‘talking head’ images. As the colour in the images drain away to become pure black and white, exacerbating the deep lines on Boshoff’s expressive face, and as the ever moving Boshoff fills the frame in varying degrees of magnification, the journalistic and documentary convention of the ‘talking head’ is simultaneously subverted and transformed into portraiture. In filmic terms, the editing process has been crucial to creating meaning of this rare use of interview material - to absorb the visual style as a layer of signification to the spoken word: neither is privileged, both are enhanced.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McDonald I

Publication type: Digital or Visual Media

Publication status: Published

Year: 2010

Source Publication Date: First screening: February 2011

Series Editor(s): Produced by Tom Hickey & Ian McDonald

Publisher: Interventions

Place Published: Brighton, UK

Type: DVD and USB portfolio

Format: 23mins/Colour & B&W/HDV/English

Credits: Filmed, directed and edited by Ian McDonald