siemon allen

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stamps v, anderson gallery, 2010

stamps v, anderson gallery, 2010


IMAGING SOUTH AFRICA: Collection Projects by Siemon Allen
Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VA, 2010

curated by Ashley Kistler
August 27 - October 31, 2010
collection of the gordonschachatcollection

Spanning all three floors of the gallery, this exhibition offered the most comprehensive presentation to date of South African artist Siemon Allen’s “collection projects.” Over the last decade, Allen has created expansive installations of various mass-produced ephemera—postal stamps, newspapers, audio recordings—that he has methodically acquired and catalogued. In terms of process, he approaches each project like an archivist, researching and assembling artifacts to disclose underlying narratives about their production, dissemination, use, and message. Allen employs the social critique that inevitably arises from his work as a means of interrogating what he describes as “the contradictory and complex nature of South African identity.”

In Stamps, a massive inventory of over 50,000 stamps released in his native country from the colonial era to the present, Allen probes the official construction of an idealized national identity often at odds with social realities.


stamps vi, durban art gallery, 2009

, 2009

Imaging South Africa: Records|Newspapers|Stamps

Durban Art Gallery, Durban, South Africa

collection of the gordonschachatcollection

The most recent and largest version of the Stamp Collection features over 23 000 South African stamps displayed in nine panels at the Durban Art Galley. The work is presented concurrently with Newspapers, in DAG's Circular Gallery; and Records, located across town at BANK Gallery. The Stamp Collection has been acquired by the Gordon Schachat collection.


Stamp Collection Imaging South Africa
stamps i, corcoran museum, 2001

stamps i, detail, 2001

Stamps Mbeki
stamps i, detail, 2001
thabo mbeki, issued june 16, 1999

Stamps FLAT International
stamp guide book, flat international, 2001

This limited edition guide book accompanied the installation. The chronology was constructed from the merging of stamp images and release information with a political history of South Africa

Stamp Collection Corcoran
stamps i, corcoran museum, 2001

Stamps George V
stamps i, detail, 2001
king george v, issued november 4, 1910

This stamp was the Union of South Africa's first, issued at the opening of the Union Parliament. The two British colonies of Natal and the Cape Of Good Hope merged with the Boer republics of the Orange Free State and Transvaal to form the Union as part of the British Commonwealth. Hence the portrait of the British soverign, King George V.

Stamps Native Huts
stamps i, detail, 2001
native huts , issued march, 1927

This stamp is the first South African one to show any form of non-European presence.

Stamps Afrikaanse Patriot
stamps i, detail, 2001
afrikaanse patriot, issued October 10, 1975

This stamp was issued on the Inauguration of the Afrikaans Language Monument and features the 1st edition of the Arikaanse Partiot (January 15, 1876), one of the first newspapers in Afrikaans rather than Dutch. The paper spurned Afrikaaner nationalism and had destinctly anti-British sentiments.

Stamps Hypertension
stamp s i, detail, 2001
hypertension, issued april 7, 1978
drunk driving, issued july 12, 1978

Stamps Voortrekkerbeweging
stamps i, detail, 2001
voortrekker anniv. , issued september 30, 1981

Stamps Mandela
stamps i, detail, 2001
nelson mandela , issued may 10, 1994

, 2001
Hemicycle, Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC
curated by Paul Brewer



Kendall Buster

The postal stamp is a humble and useful item, a currency that marks payment for a specific service essential to the transport of information. It is a reproduced miniature work of art with distinct aesthetic qualities. It is one of the most commonly collected artifacts, where its market worth is arbitrarily unhinged from its clearly marked original face value, in the philatelist’s eye.
But the stamp is also, and perhaps most significantly an official image - a highly mobile record of visual propaganda, reflecting how a country at any given period in its history sees itself and seeks to present itself. It bears a remarkably concentrated and complex body of cultural information. It is at once icon and index - a tiny picture, mass-produced and disseminated both locally and globally.

Stamp Collection - Imaging South Africa is a project by South African artist Siemon Allen that explores the political history and shifting identity of South Africa through the collection, cataloging, research and display of postal stamps released in the country from the formation of the Union in 1910 to the present. The exhibition tells the story of the changing face of South Africa, revealing how the country, over time, has chosen to represent itself both within its borders and internationally.  It is a fragmented narration that speaks not only through what is shown but also through what is not.

Stamp Collection
revisits an earlier series from 1993 in which Allen presented what he described as “icons from my middle class youth” - a display of personal possessions re-framed to read as cultural artifacts. These works offered a subtle social critique of the insular nature of postcolonial white South African culture, and included what would become the seeds for this exhibition - his childhood collection of South African stamps. 

The exhibition at the Corcoranis an expanded, more comprehensive inventory of over 8000 specimens, presented within the framework of an architectural installation that operates as a simulated gallery within the existing exhibition space. Shown in a structure built to reference the display conventions used to present archival documents in historical museums, the stamps behave both as art objects operating through visual pleasure, and as artifacts plucked from South Africa’s history.

Each stamp is essentially a reproduction of an original work of art, where distinctive color, typographical styles, and other design conventions locate individual specimens within a given date of issue.  The first releases are primarily fine line etchings printed in deep shades of indigo blue, ochre or scarlet, which later give way to highly graphic geometric designs with streamlined logos in flat fields of lime green or saturated orange. As the century draws to an end, the number of releases and the variety of design treatments multiply exponentially. Sorted and configured in a time-line, the stamps form a dense collage of pictures, with more common issues grouped to form grids of identical images subtly distinguished from unit to unit by postmark or wear. Rarer editions represented by a single specimen, become almost incidental accents in an organized arrangement which, from a distance, reads as a complex pattern.

Each stamp operates not only aesthetically, but also as a vehicle for a very particular subject. For Allen, “it is a kind of public relations gesture - a highly self-conscious attempt to express through a single image some aspect of national identity.” He describes Stamp Collection as “a history told in a succession of scenes, in a voice that is constantly relocating with subtle and dramatic shifts in political power”.

The collection opens with the image of King George V surrounded by the seals from the four former colonies that had been united to create the new Union. Other early printings chronicle the continued colonial presence, both through landscapes that affirm territorial claim and portraits that mark the progression of British sovereigns. The country’s effort in World War II is vigorously promoted with a release of issues that include a line of infantrymen, a dramatically foreshortened artillery gun, and a female welder. The rise of Afrikaner political power is marked by portraits of the apartheid authors and the historical leaders who were regarded as sources of inspiration for a resurgent nationalism, and by images that reaffirm their claims of legitimacy. These are seen in the image of a family with arms outstretched, ‘receiving’ an open landscape, and other symbols from the constructed mythology of the Voortrekker such as the Bible and candle and the ox wagon. Most stamp issues from this period, are less overt in their message. But they are no less politically charged. The abundance of releases showing wildlife or technological achievements reflects the need in the then apartheid-era South Africa to represent itself to the world as beautiful and progressive.

Allen points out that only three stamps out of the 174 issued during the Union period (1910 and 1961) reference any non-European presence in South Africa.  On one Zulu beehive structures are rendered in remarkable detail, but in most early catalogues they are simply labeled Native huts. Another depicts the signing of the Dingane/Retief Treaty, an encounter between Zulu and Voortrekker that tragically led to betrayal and revenge - part of a pattern of persistent mutual distrust. The third stamp, portrays two African men, represented in an unlikely scene, ‘welcoming’ the arrival of the Dutch East India Company’s Jan van Riebeeck. On stamps issued during the 1961-1994 Republic period, we see the historic Cape mail-runners, miners, romanticized bronze figures and a series of densely packed battle scenes depicting the carnage of the 1897 Anglo-Zulu War. But in that same time frame, a remarkably large number of stamps were released from what were then called the ‘Homelands’: Transkei, Ciskei, Venda and Bophuthatswana. Tellingly, these stamps appear to represent idealized ‘African states’ distinct from South Africa.  They were, in fact, internationally unrecognized ‘countries’ created out of the apartheid policy of separate development later to be reabsorbed into the new South Africa.

1994 to the present might be regarded as the period of The New South Africa. And the first releases in the year of the historic post-apartheid elections include a number of stamps that reflect politically dramatic changes. In that first year, are stamps that celebrate unity with issues of Peace and Our Family. And these are followed by releases depicting Nelson Mandela, the new national flag and the new anthem.  Mahatma Gandhi - who began his political life in South Africa in 1893 when he was forcibly ejected from a train for refusing to ride in the third class carriage - is represented as a young lawyer, and again as the more familiar Indian activist.  Other stamp issues from the new government include South African Nobel Laureates (most notably honoring Albert Luthuli, the teacher and activist who won the Peace Prize back in 1961); the composer of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, Enoch Sontonga; and a series called Freedom Day commemorating the country’s first universal vote.

But in spite of this radical opening up of content, the majority of stamps continue to show the less politically overt and more philatelically popular images of wildlife, locomotives, vintage automobiles and ships. Many recent releases carry commercial advertisements – one of the most bold is the MTN Gladiators series - and these reflect the proliferation and embrace of popular consumer culture in the new South Africa.

For Allen, the official message of each stamp carries with it a sub-text and, for him, a critical look at the collection reveals the persistent contradictions that exist between the images presented on the stamps and the social realities of the period in which they were released. In recent releases, these tensions are often subtle.  Stamps depicting art shift from European oil paintings and heroic bronzes to ‘traditional crafts’ and, so in some sense, appear to validate ‘African Art’. “But in a rapidly globalized exchange”, he points out, “ it is an image of African artistic production that is also limited.” Workers are celebrated with a set of sunny heroic icons. But for Allen, this is both a positive affirmation of the broadening economic opportunities in the new South Africa and a hopeful assertion in the face of an impatient underemployed labor force. While the release of a stamp with the image of a beadwork red ribbon pin - the South African symbol for AIDS awareness - operates as a kind of official recognition of the problem, behind this beautiful and modest image is a complex struggle of policy and attitudes.
Despite the international interest in South Africa’s political miracle, it remains a place only partially understood through a small number of familiar media images. Stamp Collection is both a look back over time at how South Africa has been ‘imaged’ and a view into lesser known events in or aspects of South African culture and history. A careful look at these artifacts requires a critical eye; for though much is revealed, there is much concealed as well.

Recently the South African Office of Environmental Affairs and Tourism made a public appeal for what it called a positive "branding" of South Africa internationally. This included the recruiting of non-government South Africans living overseas to act as "ambassadors" for the country. For Allen, this direct and official articulation of the need to "image" South Africa echoes the ways in which the stamp’s image constructs a national identity. He sees his own presentation of the stamp collection in Washington DC as both a subtle critique and a kind of covert participation with this stated agenda. Allen, who works from a self-described “place of apprehension and contradiction,” presents his stamps with the admission that they are “carriers of images that most often mask or remain silent on much that is officially unacknowledged.”  But the seeming detachment in Allen’s almost ‘scientific’ presentation along with his obvious care in the arrangement and display of these ‘precious artifacts’ in some sense denies this critique. Ultimately the exhibition operates with a kind of feigned complicity in the dissemination of the stamps' propagandistic messages. 

It is significant that this presentation of Stamp Collection - Imaging South Africa takes place in Washington, in an institution that is itself located across the street from The White House and near to the Smithsonian Museums. The weight of history is evident both in the presence of the numerous national collections, and in the self-consciousness of the city’s layout of monuments in the surrounding area. It is an exhibition of stamps from South Africa that addresses through its historical artifacts the South African government’s political shifts and its changing image of itself. It is an art exhibition framed first as a ‘scientific display’, framed again by the museum and yet again by the city.


Associate Professor of Fine Arts*
Corcoran College of Art and Design

*Kendall Buster is currently an associate proffessor in the Department of Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University.

essay from the exhibition poster for Stamp Collection - Imaging South Africa
published by Hemicycle, Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC, 2001


Detourism Hamza Walker
detourism broshure, renaissance society, 2001

Stamps Renaissance Society
stamps ii, renaissance society, 2001

Stamps Gladiators
stamps ii, detail, 2001
gladiators, issued november 15, 2000

Stamps Renaissance Society
stamps ii, renaissance society, 2001

Stamps Boxing
stamps ii, detail, 2001
knoetze vs tate, issued june 2, 1979

Stamps Renaissance Society
stamps ii, renaissance society, 2001


, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, Il
curated by Hamza Walker

by Hamza Walker

The war rugs are part decorative artform and part historical artifact. As documents they belong to the realm of material cultural. Material culture refers to collectible artifacts that fall outside the realm of fine art. It also encompasses the mundane memorabilia (postcards, coffee mugs, T-shirts, key chains) a place chooses to represent or celebrate itself. This includes the postage stamp.

Siemon Allen's stamp collection is a veritable history of South Africa from the country's colonial origins to the post-apartheid era. In Allen's words, "the stamp is a kind of public relations gesture - a highly self-conscious attempt to express through a single image some aspect of national identity." Flora, fauna, framers of the constitution. Athletes, armed forces, architects of apartheid. Given South Africa's history, there is as much being repressed as there is revealed, proof that the production of a national consciousness is only complete when joined by its unconsciousness no matter how historically latent its manifestations. This is true not only of South Africa's founding myths or the rise of Afrikaaner political consciousness, but also its most recent efforts aimed at a "positive branding" of "the new" (and improved) South Africa. Designed by the bureau tourism to
counter South Africa's image as it is tainted by Johannesberg's crime rate and the country's AIDs epidemic, these recent stamps feature young wrestlers starring in that country's version of the hit television show Gladiator. Their various ethnic and racial backgrounds represent the ideals of any pluralistic society. In and of itself, this reads as symptomatic insofar as the fetishization of multiculturalism is in direct proportion to an inability to articulate, never mind address, pressing social disparities. But between their physiques and their silly nicknames—Jackal, Wildebeest, Force etc.—it is perhaps more frightening to consider these steroid inflated action-figures come-to-life as a parody or projection of either sexual attraction or strong statehood.

Hamza Walker is director of education and associate curator for the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.

from the essay EXPECT THE WORLD™ by Hamza Walker
a newsletter publication accompaning the exhibition Detourism curated by Hamza Walker
published by The Renaissance Society, University of Chicao, 2001

curated by Hamza Walker
November 11- December 23, 2001
The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Siemon Allen, Siegrun Applet, Rebecca Baron, Johanna Bresnick, Edward Burtynsky, Jeff Carter & Susan Giles, Alnoor Dewshi, Rainer Ganahl, Michelle Keim
Suchan Kinoshita, Miranda Lichtenstein, Corey McCorcle, David Servoss, Christopher Williams

Stamps Artists Space
stamps iii, artists space, 2002

Stamps Sekoto
stamps iii, detail, 2001
gerard sekoto, issued june 2, 1996

Stamps Workers
stamps iii, detail, 2001
domestic worker, issued april 30, 1999

Stamps Nurse
stamps iii, detail, 2001
cecilia makiwane, issued april 30, 1982

Stamps Bible Stamp
stamps iii, detail, 2001
bible stamp , issued & withdrawn, nov 19, 1987

This stamp was part of a series commemorating the history of the Bible. The design called for the word for God to be printed in Greek and Hebrew. Articulating the word for God in print is blashemous in the Jewish faith, and after many complaints the stamp was withdrawn and apparently all copies destroyed by the Post Office. Ironically some manged to get into circulation prior to the issue date, making those exceptionally valuable.


Context & Conceptualism
, Artists Space, New York, NY
Coco Fusco, Melissa Gould, Siemon Allen
curated by Lauri Firstenberg

SIEMON ALLEN - Context & Conceptualism
by Lauri Firstenberg
Atlantica, 2002

In a 1996 article titled "Altered States: The Art of Kendell Geers", Okwul Enwezor writes of the museological interests in the new internationalism, "Increasingly, as artists move away from their practices being bound up in the manufacture of forms and objects, and begin to enter disproportionately into the terrain of conceptualism... what happens to context?" In the context of South Africa, Enwezor Interrogates a particular kind of problematic when working "across cultural and contextual borders." The art of Siemon Allen aptly addresses this question of context, i.e.. South Africa, by way of appropriating materials particular to the context of South Africa's history.

Siemon Allen's installation Stamp Collection marks the artist's own mediation on personal and political histories. 30-years-old, born in Durban, South Africa, he received his Master's Degree In Technology: Fine Art at Technikon Natal, in Durban, and lives and works in New York and Washington, DC. Reflecting
on his childhood pastime, Allen turns to his complete collection of South African stamps that tell a history of colonialism and democracy. The stamps are badges of nationalist propaganda and represent highly-coded emblems that recount a singular and dominant narrative. The isolation and decontextualization of
such objects perform a theatricalizing of the banal artifacts, questioning their validity and identity os cultural currency. Adhering to his formalist-minimalist lexicon, Allen creates dense panels of stamps as grid "paintings". This piece reconfigures an earlier stamp work of 1993 which Allen characterizes as "icons
from my middle class youth". When the appropriation of archival material is so highly contested in the context of contemporary art of South Africa between conflicting aesthetic and ethical interests, this critical gesture marks a highly
conscientious reflection on notions of truth, memory, history and recovery.

The incarnation of the stamp collection installation at the Corcoran Hemicycle in Washington, DC reverses the terms of the artist's renown minimalist installations of woven videotape. Screen, (2000), exhibited in Translation/ Seduction/ Displacement at White Box in New York City, exemplary of Allen's architectonic homage to apartheid architecture, is discussed by art historian Andres Mario Zervignon. He writes of Allen's Screen, "[It] takes memory as its central concern... it does so without outlining that memory's contents. Indeed, the very opacity of his woven video tape suggests that memory can be decoded only once consensus arises on how it will be read, how it will produce meaning. [It] therefore memorializes memory by making its indecipherability, rather than its contents, a central aesthetic focus". [1] The political and social content and contexts of Allen's minimalist panels and installations are remarkable in their refusal to provide narrative. In the stamp work, this operation is turned inside out in an effort to expose the highly coded information of his country's history. Allen's obsessional collection and installation reflects the self- representation of the nation vis-a-vis mapping colonial domination and demcratization - imaging miners to Mbekl in 40 panels of over 8,000 stamps. In the guise of a natural history mode of installation, Allen reckons with his collection as a badge of propagandist logic and his own nostalgic-festishistic-philatellic practice of collecting such artifacts. From pictures of Robben Island to a rainbow nation rendition of pop cultural icons in the form of gladiators, Allen's collection includes prominent images of Die Afrikaanse Patriot; golfer, Gary Player, a 1947 portrait of the British Queen, the anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising, and the Voortrekker Centenary 1838-1938, using a stamp of King George V marking the Union of South Africa, November 4, 1910, as his point of departure.

Lauri Firstenberg is curator of Artists Space In New York City and a PhD
candidate In the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. She
Is Associate Curator to Okwul Enwezor's The Short Century: Independence
and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994.*

* Lauri Firstenberg is currently the director and curator at LAXART in Los Angeles.

[1] Andres Mario Zervignon, "The Weave of Memory",
manuscript forthcoming.


Stamps ICA Johannesburg
stamps, vita 93, johannesburg art gallery, 1993

Stamps War Welder
stamps, detail, 2001
woman welder, war effort, issued sep 3, 1941

Stamps War Tank
stamps, detail, 2001
gun, war effort, issued august 20, 1941

Stamps ICA Detail
stamps, detail, 1993

STAMPS, 1993

Institute of Contemporary Art, Johannesburg, South Africa

VITA 93, 1994
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

FLAT, 1994
FLAT Gallery, Durban, South Africa

INTERSECTIONS - South African Art from the BHP Billiton Collection, 2002
RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

In 1993, I exhibited in a two-person show with Greg Streak at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Johannesburg. My work was a series of display-case pieces with found objects, as well as a number of wax and wood interior, architectural models. Three of the works from the show (Stamps, Shirt & Boots and Untitled (VHS Video-Tape) were selected for the VITA 93 exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery the following year.

The display-case was a device common to a number of my early works and was revisited in an installation for the VITA 1998 exhibition at the Sandton Civic Gallery. Employed to isolate and present both manufactured and found objects, my interest developed out of a need to explore the power of shifting context. A set of Hardy Boys books, a stamp collection, or a pair of Doc Marten shoes, common items from different stages of my youth were presented as artworks. The act of displacing these ‘non-precious’ items examined the ‘value’ of such cultural icons and the information encoded in seemingly ordinary things: vicarious adventures in the comic or detective stories, symbols of constructed identity in the coveted brand name products.

Stamps (1993) was constructed using my childhood stamp collection of South African stamps. As a child I used to purchace stamp catalogues and supplies from a bookstore, Adams & Griggs, in downtown Durban. The store of course also had a wonderful display-case of very rare stamps which I would covert but could never afford. Later, in a twist of fate, when I was working on the ICA exhibtion with Greg Streak, I happened to be downtown at Adams, and found that they were in the process of selling off a number of older store displays. I bought the orignal case on the spot!

After the VITA 93 show this piece was purchased by the Gencor Collection which later became the BHP Billition Collection. It was specifically the loss of this childhood collection through the art sale that prompted me to later return to stamp collecting. Perhaps innocently at first, I purchased some stamps from a stamp store in Swakopmund, Namibia in 2000. Soon this simple action balooned into a strict strategy to re-constitute the original collection and go far beyond.

I would always tell people that I sold the original Stamps piece as an artwork for less than the value of the stamps it contained. Though after many years of collecting I am confident that that I was a bit niave. If anything though, the original stamp collection does have great personel value that goes beyond any price in my mind anyway.

Stamps AIDS
stamps, detail, 2001
aids awareness , issued april 1, 1999

Stamps Animals
stamps, detail, 2001
animals , issued october 14, 1954

Stamps Radio
stamp s, detail, 2001
radio transkei , issued october 26, 1977

Stamps Gary Player
stamps, detail, 2001
gary player , issued december 2, 1976

Stamps Sebe
stamps, detail, 2001
lennox sebe , issued december 4, 1981

Stamps Smuts
stamp s, detail, 2001
jan smuts , issued may 24, 1975

Stamps Robben Island
stamps i, detail, 2001
robben island , issued september 22, 2000

Stamps Mining
stamps i, detail, 2001
western deep gold mine , issued may 30, 1991

Stamps Proteas
stamps i, detail, 2001
proteas , issued may 27, 1977

Stamps June 16
stamps i, detail, 2001
soweto uprising , issued june 16, 2001

South African Government Speeches and Documents


by Valli Moosa


It's a pleasure for me to be here tonight to launch a subject that is hotly under debate in government and, in particular, in my department: The Imaging of South Africa.

The image we have of our self as a nation is fundamental to our understanding of ourselves as a nation and how we project our image across the world. It goes to core of who we are as South Africans and what we (South Africa) stands for. We are fortunate to be embarking on this campaign in an international environment of goodwill. There is enormous value in images that are recognisably South African. We benefit from our history as South Africa is seen by the world as a miracle: The unique example of a people who were divided in the past and are now building a democratic nation together. That is why the Imaging South Africa campaign must be a national effort - both government and industry working together in a partnership.

We need to brand South Africa in a way that demonstrates our unique identity throughout the world. It must be a brand that South Africans across the spectrum can take up and use as they travel the globe whether they are promoting the trade or tourism or foreign relations with other countries. That brand is the generic image of South Africa as a whole.

With it we must carry the message that we are confident nation who have built democracy out of a divided country, that we are skilled with people of expertise, who produce top quality services or products of a high technological and design content, in a modern economy with good infrastructure. From the generic brand "South Africa" various industries will then be able to add their own specific to add value the overall image of the product.

In the long-term we hope that the process of branding South Africa will give South Africans the confidence to develop their own brands rather than selling little known American brands for which they pay royalties.

But for "Brand South Africa" to work we need to work together. The process has already started. Many South African key exporting industries, the tourism industry, artists, advertisers, and government departments are harnessing our collective and diverse creative energies. The outcome will (and must be) a product that is "owned" and valued by South Africans.

Ownership comes with participation. And behalf of my colleagues in government here tonight, I would like to invite you all to participate and will ensure that your participation is made possible. Our role is to co-ordinate and integrate the wealth of ideas out there.

There are three ministries directly involved in this campaign and they will bring in different constituencies:

* Through Alec Irwin, Minister of Trade and Industry, our key exporting industries will be incorporated in the process. The DTI has already met with a large group of marketing managers from some of South Africa's leading companies.
* Through Dr Ben Ngubane, Minister of Arts, Culture Science and Technology, our arts community, design students and even school children will be invited to contribute their ideas.
* Through my ministry, we are working on a number of campaigns:

At the core is the Tourism Action Plan's international marketing campaign that kicks off early next year. The plan is a strategic marketing framework that starts with major short-term campaigns in early 2000 in our "Big Six" markets, while laying the groundwork with detailed market research, in both established and emerging markets, that will inform our future campaigns. The Tourism Action Plan also brings government and the tourism industry together for the first time in a public private partnership around the common goal of putting our country at the top of any tourist "must visit" list.

The launch of this Action Plan, which has the largest budget in Satour's 45-year history, starts a new chapter in the marketing of South Africa as a world-class tourism destination. To prepare South Africans for this campaign we are launching a "Welcome to South Africa" project which will sensitise our people to the role that tourism plays in our economy. Our three ministries work directly with both the Government Communication Information Service (GCIS) and Foreign Affairs so we build the image together in government.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the Imaging South Africa campaign is the next logical stage of the process that gave us our new flag, which now confidently carries the hopes and inspirations of our sports men and women around the world. When the new South African flag was being developed it was almost impossible to believe that we could come up with a flag of which most South Africans could be proud. There were so many diverse interests and ideas. But through a careful process of public participation, in which South Africans of all ages and walks of life participated, we came up with a flag which stirs the hearts of most South Africans and which is distinctive enough to be immediately recognisable to non-South Africans. The flag does us proud. It unites us, captures an aspect of our unique South African identity, and promotes our country wherever it flies. It is my sincere hope that the Imaging South Africa campaign will achieve similar successes.


South African Tourism

South Africa launches global initiative in UK
South African Tourism - Media Statement
15 November 2000

London − South African Tourism yesterday announced the establishment of a worldwide network of influencers − The Circle of Sunshine – to help create employment opportunities in South Africa. Rugby star Francois Pienaar, South Africa's Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism Valli Moosa, the South African High Commissioner Cheryl Carolus and the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Tourism Board Moss Mashishi, called on the South African community to assist. Leading business people, celebrities and sports personalities with links to South Africa have been invited to the international launch of a unique initiative to raise the profile of South Africa and help re−generate the economy through encouraging increased tourism.

At a reception in London on 14th November 2000 invited guests were asked to become founder members of the Circle of Sunshine and pledge their commitment to 'spreading the word' about the tourism wealth of the country. "Developing our economy through job creation and attracting foreign exchange is crucial to our country" explained High Commissioner Ms Cheryl Carolus. "Increased tourism is of fundamental importance to the country's economic growth, hence the initiative of the Circle of Sunshine. Research has shown that for every additional eight overseas tourists we can attract to South Africa, we create one new job in the tourism industry − which is by far the fastest way to develop
employment opportunities – faster than the manufacturing sector or our other key industry of mining."

Guests pledging their support to the Circle of Sunshine were invited to add a bead to a large, hand crafted representation of the (Circle of Sunshine) logo. This impression of traditional South African craftwork will continue around the world, to be added to, at other regional launches. The beadwork circle will represent a sign of their commitment to grow the network through inviting friends, colleagues and business contacts to join.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has agreed to act as Minister of Sunshine, recorded a video message to the guests pledging his commitment and Mr Valli Moosa, South Africa's Minister for Environmental Affairs & Tourism, endorsed the importance of the initiative. " We believe there are around half a million expatriate South Africans around the world – 300,000 of whom live in Greater London. If we can get them to influence their friends and colleagues it will have a tremendous impact on our economy. This vast network of ambassadors can become pivotal in the development and growth of our country's vitally important tourism industry."

South African rugby star, Francois Pienaar, now living in the UK and working with the Saracens rugby team was invited to give the keynote address. He spoke of his disappointment in seeing some negative coverage of South Africa in the UK media. "South Africa is a remarkable country with remarkable people. They are building a wonderful country, one with a tourism wealth that few countries can rival. Our hotels are among the best in the world, there is stunning scenery, wonderful beaches and vast range of activities and cultural attractions. We have the best game viewing in Africa and of course great sport. Plus of course the current exchange rate, which makes the pound, go a long way.
"I want to see my fellow countrymen and women helping to make the country even greater by attracting more tourists and helping re−generate our economy."

The London launch of the Circle of Sunshine is the first of a series of launches to be held throughout the world to build an international network of ambassadors.

The Circle of Sunshine is an international initiative conceived and managed by South African Tourism. It is an international network of influential people who have an interest in and commitment to South Africa. The members of the Circle of Sunshine will be ambassadors for South Africa, encouraging their friends, business colleagues and families to visit South Africa thus growing the country's vitally important tourism industry. To join the Circle of Sunshine, please email us at ""


Stamps Poster
stamp collection, corcoran poster, 2001

Stamps Voortrekker Monument
stamps i, detail, 2001
voortrekker monument, issued dec 14, 1938

Stamps Smoking
stamps i, detail, 2001
anti-smoking, issued march 5, 1980



Siemon Allen, Greg Streak
November 14 - December 5, 1993
Institute of Contempoarary Art, Johannesburg, South Africa


May 10 - July 24, 1994
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


Ledelle Moe, Thomas Barry, Nkosinathi Gumede, Carol Gainer, Adrian Hermanides & Siemon Allen
March 5, 1994
FLAT Gallery, Durban, South Africa

STAMP COLLECTION - Imaging South Africa

Stamps I
Curated by Paul Brewer
April - August, 2001
Hemicycle/Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC


curated by Hamza Walker
Stamps II
The Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL

Coco Fusco, Melissa Gould & Siemon Allen
curated by Lauri Firstenberg
Stamps III
Artists Space, New York, NY

Stamps IV
Durban Art Gallery, Durban, South Africa

IMAGING SOUTH AFRICA: Collection Projects By Siemon Allen
Stamps V
curated by Ashley Kistler
August 27 - October 31, 2010
Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VA