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Exhibition overview

From 14 to 20 May 2024, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain invites The Centre for the Less Good Idea for a week of workshops, performances, concerts and encounters with over 30 artists from South Africa, Benin, Belgium, Holland, Austria and France.

The exhibition in detail

Ticketing opening on 22 April 2024.

This is the first time the Fondation Cartier is hosting an institution for a residency. It has invited The Centre for the Less Good Idea to relocate from Johannesburg to Paris and occupy all the spaces of the Boulevard Raspail building, from the exhibition rooms to the garden.

Founded in 2016 in Johannesburg (South Africa), The Centre for the Less Good Idea is a space for responsive thinking through experimental, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary arts practices. Both an incubator for artistic projects and a place for creative encounters, it is aimed at young artists – musicians, dancers, playwrights, choreographers and more – from the local and international scene, many of whom hail from the African continent.

Unique in its kind, the methodology and philosophy of The Centre for the Less Good Idea is based on the conviction that pursuing the ‘less good idea’, i.e. the one born on the margins by chance or due to an error, very often paves the way for the most inventive works. Secondary artistic processes, peripheral ideas and incidental discoveries are authorised and encouraged.

“It is a place to play, experiment, fail and try again”, explains Bronwyn Lace. The artists work together to assemble combinations of texts, movements, sounds and images, without any pre-set objective in terms of production or format.

Over the course of the residency, 20 or so artists from South Africa will come together alongside artists from Benin, Belgium, Austria and France, and students from the Fine Arts Department at Université Paris 8 – Vincennes, undertaking collective explorations and sharing their experiences with the public.

Picture © Zivanai Matangi.

Through a creative, festive and collaborative programme, the public will be immersed in The Centre’s creative process. This intense week will open on Tuesday 14 May with the performance lecture and choral work Collapses & Defences. Every evening from Wednesday onward, visitors will be able to attend HOW | Showing the Making, a session on the workshops held by the artists during the day, and various interdisciplinary performances, including Pepper’s Ghost, a theatrical illusion technique combining live performance and video projections, as well as Sizendlebe | We are Ears, an experimental musical performance illustrating the complexity of translation.

On Sunday 19 and Monday 20 May during the day, audiences can participate in workshops and discussions with the artists, including open work sessions for The Great YES, The Great NO, William Kentridge’s new production for the 2024 Festival d’Aix-en- Provence. On the evening of Saturday 18 May, the public is invited to celebrate the residency through a live DJ set.

Image gallery

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© Zivanai Matangi

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© Zivanai Matangi

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© Zivanai Matangi

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Burial
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© Zivanai Matangi

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Additionally, Moments of Making, a documentary featuring archives of The Centre’s past five seasons (2019–2022), will be screened in the small room on the ground level of the Fondation Cartier, where a sound installation will also be presented. Transformed into the Less Good Lounge, it will offer a bar area for visitors and artists, for convivial encounters and discussions.

Picture © Zivanai Matangi.

THE CENTRE FOR THE LESS GOOD IDEA

“If the good doctor can’t cure you, find the less good doctor.” This amusing and grammatically awkward Setswana proverb (translated by Sol Plaatje in his book of 732 proverbs in 1916) goes a long way to describing the interests at The Centre. Secondary pursuits through collective and collaborative artistic process is celebrated at The Centre and it is that to which it gives its attention and resources.The Centre has quickly gathered momentum and by 2024 has become a formative space for arts projects in South Africa and beyond. Between 2016 and 2024 close to 500 individual performances, films and installations have been created and shown and more than 800 artists of all disciplines have worked on projects at The Centre.

Picture © Zivanai Matangi.

William Kentridge

William Kentridge is a draughtsman, performer, filmmaker, and is the founder of The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre, and opera productions. Embracing collaboration and cross-pollination of various media and genres, including performance, film, literature, and more, his work frequently responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the context of South Africa's socio-political landscape. Erasure, play, uncertainty, and a process-led methodology are also central to his practice. A background in theatre, as well as his early experimentations with stop-motion animation continue to inform and characterise much of the work he produces today.

Bronwyn Lace

Bronwyn Lace is a visual artist who has collaborated with William Kentridge on the founding and establishing of The Centre for the Less Good Idea. For Botswana-born Lace, who currently works between Austria and South Africa, her artistic practice is concerned with the relationship between art and other fields such as physics, literature, philosophy, museum practice, education, and more. Site-specificity, responsiveness, and performativity are also central to her practice, and have informed a great deal of her early work. Similarly, a balance between an isolated, introspective studio process and a collaborative, communal process sees Lace embracing incidental discoveries underpinned by an informed pursuit of new ideas.

THE CENTRE FOR THE LESS GOOD IDEA

William Kentridge — Founder & director
Bronwyn Lace — Founder & director
Dimakatso Motholo — Associate producer
Athena Mazarakis — Educational manager
Neo Muyanga — Curator of Johannesburg programming
Laurie Cearley — OFFICE international producer
Bruna d’Avila — OFFICE Company Manager
Mego Williams — Stage Manager
Brendon Boyd — Technical Director / Lighting
Zain Vally — Sound
Noah Cohen — Cinematography
Octavia Sonyane — Video Editor
Nthabiseng Malaka — Scenography & costume
David Mann — Writer & communications
Bukhosibakhe Khoza — Additional footage

ARTISTS AND PERFORMERS

Nhlanhla Mahlangu — Performer
Sbusiso Shozi — Performer
Anathi Conjwa — Performer
Katlego KayGee Letsholonyana — Performer
Vusi Mdoyi — Performer
Thulani Chauke — Performer
Tony Miyambo — Performer
Dikeledi Modubu — Performer
Teresa Phuti Mojela — Performer
Asanda Hanabe — Performer
Luke de Wit — Performer
Pélagie Gbaguidi — Visual artist
Marcus Neustetter — Visual artist
Betty Tchomanga — Dancer and choreographer With the collaboration of a Paris based choir

MUSICIANS

Angelo Moustapha
Micca Manganye
Kyle Shepard
Maya Muratoglu
Zenzele Mthembu
Joel Rabesolo

RESEARCHERS AND STUDENTS

Christine Barthe — Curator at musée du quai Branly
Anna Seiderer — Researcher at the university Paris 8
Julien Faure-Conorton — Researcher at musée départemental Albert-Kahn
10 students from the University Paris 8 – Department of Plastic Arts