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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

Pauline Gutter’s metaphorical representations of South Africa
2016-04-07

Description: Thamsanqa Malgas  Tags: Thamsanqa Malgas

Art student, Thamsanqa Malgas views the Purgatorium exhibition at the Stegmann Gallery on the Bloemfontein Campus (UFS).
Photo: Rethabile Isaacs

Purgatory is a temporary condition of torment or suffering. This is the central thread of the renowned artist’s exhibition, Purgatorium, at the University of the Free State (UFS). Pauline Gutter’s exhibition was opened by Harry Siertsema on 9 March 2016 at the Stegmann Gallery on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The artist, who grew up on a farm in the Free State, is influenced by animals and farm life. “My work is on many levels a metaphorical representation of the violence of current South Africa. Some people want to move away from stigma, others adopt hysteria. The impressive yet vulnerable bulk of the bulls depicted in uncomfortable positions manifests the voiceless and powerless generation of food producers in their daily struggles for survival,” she wrote in the catalogue of the exhibition.

Prof Dirk van den Berg of the UFS Department of History of Art and Image Studies wrote an essay about the exhibition, in which he captures the lived endurance of stress and suffering which Pauline Gutter depicts vividly in Purgatorium.

“The paintings, drawings, and prints in this exhibition have, in various ways, the effect of disseminating the basic tenor of the weaning metaphor of struggle for survival into the farming domains of the land, its creatures, and its people,” said Prof van den Berg.

Art student, Thamsanqa Malgas, was very impressed with the exhibition, saying that it was a fascinating collection, and a must-see for art lovers. The exhibition closed on 1 April 2016.

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