Matthew Krouse 
13.04.21 - 07.05.21

'I was sixteen when I met Matthew. He put his tongue in my ear.'

Adam is telling me about Matthew Krouse: the South African writer, artist, performer and LGBTQI activist. They met in The Dungeon, a gay club in downtown Johannesburg. He was the most censored man in apartheid South Africa. Infamous, Adam says. For all the right reasons.     

Matthew began making performances in an old apartment in Johannesburg. In 1984 he became notorious for a play about the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd. Following a widely-publicised trial, the play was banned. Subsequent works were equally scandalous, repeatedly censored by the authorities, leading to his detainment.

In the late 1980's he wrote and co-directed two politically-scandalous films: 'De Voortrekkers' and 'The Soldier'. Both launched a fierce attack on apartheid ideology, vandalising the narrative of the Great Trek - its founding myth. In one film, Krouse staged a gay porn scene in the Voortrekker Monument, the sacred heart of Afrikaans Nationalist identity.

In 1990, Matthew joined the Congress of South African Writers at the invitation of the Nobel prize winner Nadine Gordimer. In 1992 he edited 'The Invisible Ghetto', the first LGBTQI anthology from the African continent. From 1998 until 2014 he was the arts editor of the South African Mail & Guardian newspaper.

When I invited Adam to exhibit at Kunsthallo, he left me a long voicemail. He was telling me about a radical artist whose work had been forgotten by a fickle art world. I'm thrilled that Adam has exhumed and ordered Matthew's archive, and that we can present it on this small platform. The first of many shows, I hope.

Two years after Matthew's tongue met Adam's ear, they met again. Borrowing a VHS camera, the anxious student went to interview the legendary filmmaker. Half-way through the interview, Adam realized his subject had nodded off. He left with a 60 minute tape of Matthew Krouse, fast asleep.

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The Solider (1989) is an unfinished short film made by Matthew Krouse, produced by Jeremy Nathan and with cinematography by Giulio Biccari. The Soldier was written by the three in 1988 and filmed in 1989. It was originally conceived to be made secretly in the Voortrekker Monument that, at that stage in history, was a revered state site of commemoration. The story was a response to an event that happened in an army barracks in which a soft porn pinup was placed on a soldier’s back in the course of a gang rape. The film was intended to be part of a grand historical film narrative that would unfold with multiple sex acts undermining supposed historical veracity. The film was taken out of South Africa to be processed in London since the big laboratory at home could not be trusted with the subject matter. The lab in London burnt down in an accident, and the film was lost except for celluloid and VHS copies of some rushes. Watch the film 

Shotdown (1986) is a South African feature film directed by Andrew Worsdale and written by Worsdale with Matthew Krouse, Robert Colman, Giulio Biccari and Jeremy Nathan. It was shot in Johannesburg, Durban and Marikana, and completed in 1986. The plot concerns a character called Paul Gilliat, a two-bit South African movie maker who arrives back in the country in darkest days of apartheid. Here, he is recruited by the security police to hunt down a major black activist who heads a militant theatre group. For cover, Paul falls in with radical white political theatre satirists, and learns in the process how to love, as well as some moral lessons about life. The film stars the late James Philips who was the country’s Jim Morrison figure at the time. It was banned shortly after its completion under the draconian censorship laws of the time. Watch the film

De Voortrekkers (1985) is a short film that uses as its prime reference a film by the same name made in South Africa in 1916. Its story tells of a journey by Afrikaans colonisers into the interior of South Africa. The later De Voortrekkers was written by Matthew Krouse with producer Jeremy Nathan and cinematographer Giulio Biccari in 1985, under the political state of emergency. The script was seized by the South African police in a house raid and the shooting of the film was delayed until the making of a feature film called Shot Down allowed the film to be funded and incorporated into that project. De Voortrekkers however got a life of its own and was banned in 1989. A widely publicised showing in the destricted, immediate post apartheid moment, in 1990, caused a public protest in which there was a standoff between the police and rightwing elements, injuring bystanders and participants. Watch the film 

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Matthew Krouse (b.1961 South Africa) is a writer, artist and performer. In the 1980s his work was repeatedly banned: scandalizing right-wing elements, he was perceived as a national hero to some and threat to others. In the late 80s he wrote and co-directed two underground films: De Voortrekkers and The Unknown Soldier. In 1990 he joined the Congress of South African Writers, becoming an illustrator and editor of The Invisible Ghetto, the first gay anthology from the entire continent. From 1999 to 2014 he was arts editor of the South African Mail & Guardian newspapers.

Adam Broomberg (b.1970 South Africa) is a contemporary artist, activist and educator living and working in Berlin. He is a professor of photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg. For two decades, he was one half of the critically acclaimed artist duo Broomberg & Chanarin. His work is held in major public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou and others.