KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Fashion is fundamentally driven by an idea of newness — and endless cycle of seasons, each promising change and innovation at a level that is, in reality, logistically unsustainable. That’s why fashion constantly digests and repurposes itself, with throwback “retro” styles emerging 20 years after their first wave, like clockwork. Thus, fashion is a perfect handle for After the Thrill is Gone: Fashion, Politics and Culture in Contemporary South African Art, a group show featuring 13 South African artists, all of whom began their careers after apartheid. In myriad ways, these artists utilize fashion in their efforts to examine South African society, now just past the 20th anniversary of the historic overthrow of South Africa’s segregated system of rule.
The show, organized by curator Andrew Hennlich, is spread across several rooms in the Netzorg and Kerr Permanent Collection Gallery on the Western Michigan University campus. Hennlich came to South Africa by way of his dissertation work at University of Manchester on the influential South African artist William Kentridge.