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I visited Boschendal Estate outside Franschhoek in February, at the opening of its gallery space created by the conversion of the old Manor House (a result of the winemaker’s partnership with the Norval Foundation). The launch exhibition was a selection of photographs from Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama series. On returning to Boschendal last week, I was struck by the counterpoint between Muholi’s work — with its emphasis on the black subject as the focus of the white gaze — and the current exhibition, The Whispering of Ghosts by Kate Gottgens.

Gottgens’s oil paintings, by contrast, ask the viewer to look askance at whiteness. Specifically, she reimagines scenes from white suburban life in SA in the 1970s and 1980s. The canvases have an uneasy and even a nightmarish quality: they convey the pervasive dread marking white SA consciousness, a subliminal recognition of complicity and guilt that manifests externally in expressions of fear and anger...

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