My work reflects a number of distinct, but interconnected activities. I collect, organize, and display artifacts. I sample sounds from various media sources and re-configure these to produce audio works, some integrated into sculptural works, and others covertly presented in specific sites. I construct large hand woven panels with cast off movie film or videotape that operate between painting and architectural enclosure. I design and produce limited edition artist’s books.
The thread that runs through all of these seemingly varied practices is my need to reconcile my interests in the world of the political with the language of the aesthetic. I try to approach any given project with an attitude of detached research. I want the social critique that inevitably arises out my work to operate subtly and to reflect what I see as the contradictory and complex nature of South African identity.
Ironically, most of my work, is the result of my being in the United States, where I find myself looking at the image of South Africa as I might reconstruct it—through historical artifacts (stamps), through current media (newspapers) or through received audio (sampled sound works). To some extent it speaks to what I feel is a kind of separation from the source, and leads me to consider how much of this work is, at its core, an investigation into notions of branding and identity through displacement.
1999 Masters Degree in Technology: Fine Art, Technikon Natal, Durban, South Africa1995/6 Artist in Residence: Sculpture Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA1992 National Higher Diploma: Fine Art, Technikon Natal, Durban, South Africa1991 National Diploma: Fine Art, Technikon Natal, Durban, South Africa
2005 Cards III, KZNSA, Durban, South AfricaCards II, FUSEBOX, Washington, DC2004 Newspapers (Register), Drake University - Anderson Gallery, Des Moines, IA2002 Newspapers (Post/Times), FUSEBOX, Washington, DC2001 STAMP COLLECTION – Imaging South Africa, Hemicycle/Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC1999 House, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL1994 Songs for Nella, FLAT Gallery, Durban, South Africa
Selected Group Exhibitions
2006 A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad, curated by Tumelo Mosaka& Shannon Fitzgerald, Blaffer Gallery, Houston, TXChronicle (three-person with Richard Roth & Royce Howes), curated by Richard Roth, The Lab,New York, NYOther Than Art, curated by Milena Kalinovska, G Fine Art, Washington, DC2005 Enemy Image, curated by Elena Sorkina, Momenta, Brooklyn, NYPatriot, curated by Cira Pascual Marquina, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD2004 Freedom Salon, curated by Christina Kukielski & Apsara Diquinzio, Deitch Projects, New York, NYNotes on Renewed Appropriationisms, curated by Lauri Firstenberg, The Project, Los Angeles, CARear View Mirror, curated by Elizabeth Fisher, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UKPop-Agenda, FUSEBOX, Washington, DC (Two-person exhibition with Dominic McGill)A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad, curated by Tumelo Mosaka& Shannon Fitzgerald, Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA2003 The American Effect, curated by Larry Rinder, Whitney Museum, New York, NYA Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad, curated by Tumelo Mosaka& Shannon Fitzgerald, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MIArt Positions, Miami/Basel, Miami, FLARCO, Madrid, Spain2002 Context & Conceptualism, Artists Space. New York, NY (3 person with CocoFusco & Melissa Gould)Intersections, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia2001 Detourism, Renaissance Society, Chicago, Ill, curated by Hamza WalkerFUSEBOX, Washington, DCAfter the Diagram, White Box, New York, NY, curated by Lauri Firstenberg &Douglas Cooper2000 Open Circuit, NSA Gallery, Durban, South AfricaTranslation/Seduction/Displacement, curated by Lauri Firstenberg & John Peffer,Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Portland, METranslation/Seduction/Displacement, White Box, New York, NY, curated by LauriFirstenberg & John Peffer1999 Import, Goethe Institute (two-person with Markus Wirthmann), Washington, DC1998 Drömmar och Moln, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, SwedenVita 98, Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa1997 Taking Stock, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, South Africa2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Graft, curated by Colin Richards, South African National Gallery,Cape Town, South AfricaUnplugged II, Rembrandt Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa1996 Hitch-Hiker, Generator Art Space, Johannesburg, S. Africa,curated by Clive KellnerGoethe Institute (two-person with Kendall Buster), Washington, DC1995 Rembrandt Gallery (three-person with Thomas Barry and Jeremy Wafer),Johannesburg1994 Vita Art Now 93, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South AfricaFirst Internotional Theatre of Communication, FLAT Gallery, Durban, South AfricaQuasi-Stella Objects, Jam n’ Co, Durban, South AfricaSwans, FLAT Gallery, Durban, South Africa1993 Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) (two person with Greg Streak),Johannesburg
Allen, Siemon: “Destruction/Construction, Unquiet Community, Sublime Landscape”, Julie Mehretu—City Sitings,catalogue essay, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, 2007Allen, Siemon: “Retrospectives”, One Million and Forty-Four Years (and Sixty Three Days), catalogue essay, SMACGallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2007Allen, Siemon: “Time”, The Daily Constitutional, Issue 4, Summer 2007Allen, Siemon: “Culture is a Weapon of the Struggle”, MFA THESIS EXHIBITION 2005, catalogue essay, AndersonGallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 2005Allen, Siemon: “Pictures & Words”, TRIPWIRE – A Journal of Popular Poetry, #6, San Francisco, Fall 2002Allen, Siemon: “The FLAT Gallery – Conceptual Practices in Durban, South Africa”, essay in AUTHENTIC / EXCENTRIC– Conceptualism in Contemporary African Art, Salah Hassan & Olu Oguibe (eds), Aperto ExhibitionCatalogue, 49th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2001Allen, Siemon: “A Black Voice”, essay in Grey Areas, Brenda Atkinson & Candice Breitz (eds), Johannesburg, SouthAfrica, 1999Allen, Siemon: The FLAT Gallery (1993 – 1995), FLAT International, Washington, USA, 1999Amory, Claudia: “Artsites 96”, The Washington Review, June 1996Bonetti, David: “Comments on Culture”, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 14, 2003Bowers, J: “Without Borders”, City Paper, Baltimore, April 2005Buster, Kendall; Allen, Siemon (eds): A General Guide to South African Stamps & History, FLAT International,Washington, USA, 2002Cahan, Susan: “A Fiction of Authenticity”, Art South Africa, vol. 2 issue 2, Summer 2003Carrier, David: “A Fiction of Authenticity”, ARTFORUM, March 2004Cassel, Valerie: “ Beyond Boundaries: Rethinking Contemporary Art Exhibitions”, Art Journal, Spring 2000Cattelan, Maurizio; Gioni, Massimiliano; Subotnick, Ali (eds): CHARLEY 01: New York, 2002Cotter, Holland: “Translation/Seduction/Displacement”, The New York Times, March 24, 2000Cotter, Holland: “Enemy Image”, The New York Times, October 7, 2005Dawson, Jessica: “Where Visa are not Needed”, The Washington Post, April 11, 2002Dixon, Glen, “When History Throws Us an Endless Curve,” The Washington Post, Apr. 17, 2004Enwezor, Okwui (ed): Trade Routes History and Geography, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, exhibition catalogue, 1997Firstenberg, Lauri: “Notes on Renewed Appropriationisms”, PARKETT, # 67, 2003Firstenberg, Lauri: “Siemon Allen’s Stamp Collection”, NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art, #16/17,Fall/Winter 2002Firstenberg, Lauri: “Siemon Allen”, Atlantica, Spring 2002Firstenberg, Lauri: “Making Headlines”, Art/South Africa, Vol. 1 Issue 2, Johannesburg, Summer 2002Firstenberg, Lauri; Peffer, John (eds): “Translation/Seduction/Displacement” (catalogue), New York, 2000Fisher, Elizabeth: Rear View Mirror, exhibition catalogue, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK, 2004Fitzgerald, Shannon; Mosaka, Tumelo (eds): “A Fiction of Authenticity – Contemporary Africa Abroad”, exhibitioncatalogue, Contemporary Art Museum St.Louis, 2003Garcia, Mariano: “La Zaragozana Cira Pascual Cuestiona el Patriotismo en el Corazón de EE UU”, Heraldo deAragón, June 9, 2005Geers, Kendell: “Social Critique from Young Talent”, Business Day, Johannesburg, Nov. 1993Geers, Kendall, Sophie Perryer, and Nikos Papaastergiadis. Intersections—South African Art from the BHP BillitonCollection, exhibition catalogue, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, BHP Billiton Collection SA, 2002.Gilbert, Chris: “Exile Painters”, 64 Magazine, May 2000Gilbert, Chris: “Siemon Allen: Internal Affairs”, Sculpture, Vol. 18 No.10, Dec. 1999Gopnick, Blake: “The View From Afar”, The Washington Post, August 24, 2003Gopnick, Blake: “Delving into the Notion of Patriotism”, The Washington Post, May 31, 2005Heartney, Eleanor: “America, Real and Imagined”, Art in America, September 2003Hoffberg, Judith (ed): “Newspapers”, book review in Umbrella, Vol. 27 #4, Southern California, Dec. 2004Israel, Nico: “Translation/Seduction/Displacement”, ARTFORUM, May 2000Jacobson, Louis: “Cards”, Washington City Paper, June 17, 2005Knode, Marilu: “Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis”, Tema Celeste, 2003Levin, Kim: “A Foreign Affair”, The Village Voice, July 30-August 5, 2003Machen, Peter: “Conversation of Objects”, Weekend Witness, Durban, August 13, 2005McCarthy, Jena, Reviews, ArtSouthAfrica, Vol. 4, Issue 2, Summer 2005McNatt, Glenn: “Politics, Art Make Strange Bedfellows”, The Baltimore Sun, April 26, 2005Nakamura, Marie-Pierre: “C’est Leur Amérique”, Art Actuel, #28, Paris, France, September-October, 2003Pascual Marquina, Cira, “Newspapers,” exhibition brochure, Anderson Gallery, Drake University, Des Moines, IA,Jan. 2003.Peffer, John: “Mistaken Media”, http://home.icon.co.za/~ersatz/mistaken_media.htm, June 2005Pierre, Amanda, “‘Newspapers’ Looks at How People Are Informed,” The Des Moines Register, Jan. 18, 2004.Richards, Colin, “The Thought Is the Thing.” Art/South Africa [Johannesburg, SA] 1, issue 2 (Summer 2002).Rinder, Larry (ed): The American Effect: Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990–2003, exhibitioncatalogue, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2003Risatti, Howard, “Siemon Allen/Dominic McGill, ” Artforum, Summer 2004Schwendener, Martha: “Critics Picks”, Artforum (online), February 10, 2002Smith, Roberta: “Context & Conceptualism”, The New York Times, February 22, 2002Smith, Roberta: “Caution: Angry Artists at Work”, The New York Times, August 27, 2004Sudheim, Alex: “Squirrel Artist”, Mail & Guardian, Durban, August 5, 2005Thorson, Alice: “ A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad”, ArtNews, April 2004Van Gelder, Lawrence: “National Image”, The New York Times, June 26, 2001Vascellaro, Jessica: “America’s Image as Seen by Artists Here and Abroad”, The Associated Press, August 4, 2003Weil, Benjamin: “Out of Time-South African Art”, Flash Art, Jan-Feb. 1995Weil, Rex: “Siemon Allen”, ArtNews, October 2005Walker, Hamza: “Detourism”, The Renaissance Society, November 2001Williamson, Sue: Artthrob, artthrob.co.za (online), July 2001Zervigon, Andres: “The Weave of Memory: Siemon Allen’s Screen in Postapartheid South Africa”, Art Journal,Spring 2002
BHP Billiton, South AfricaDurban Art Gallery, South AfricaGuggenheim Museum, New York