Encounter artist Beezy at film festival

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TO CA Beezy Bailey Getty Images MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15: Mesut Oezil of Germany in action during the international friendly match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2013 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

OF THE films scheduled for this year’s Encounters Film Festival is a new documentary about South African artist Beezy Bailey (pictured).

The documentary attempts to document the 61-year-old’s life story, from his formative years to now, spanning his 30-year career in the arts. Outsider was shot on location in Cape Town, Joburg and London.

The 54-minute documentary features interviews with the artist and people who know him, plus some archival footage of some of his performances. The archival material includes clips of Bailey as a child, but the later clips are quite sparse considering his 30 years in the business.

It starts and ends with Bailey slipping into a balloon-like costume at his home, where he dances on the stoep for what looks like friends and family – this is never actually explained, nor are the archived clips. To be fair though, the old clips are either predeced or followed by his mother and brother talking about a specific aspect of the artist, so those make more sense.

The self-professed show-off and performer explains his thought process as he is shown painting and collaborating with other artists like Brian Eno. As he talks about Nelson Makube – an artist he describes as his mentor and the one who gave him the courage to create the Joyce Ntobe alter ego – you think things are about to get interesting. Especially since journalist and art critic Sean O’Toole then calls Bailey’s creation of this alter ego a second-hand joke which was stupid and insulting, but then that is about as critical as he gets.

But, Bailey takes no offence at the description, merely pointing out that his whole point was to expose the hypocriciy of the liberal white bullshit that is political correctness.

But, then they drop that whole idea and suddenly there’s Mark Read of Everard Read Gallery talking about how As It Is In Heaven (a rhino skeleton with wings and a golden horn) is Bailey’s most significant piece of art.

O’Toole is the only art critic shown, but who knows who else was interviewed? It’s actually a short documentary, so it might get longer in the future.

Outsider turns out to be a very gentle exploration that doesn’t go very deep. It is actually quite sweet, but very light on nitty gritty detail on the impact of an artist who has made a mark on the global art circuit. Still, if you don’t know much about Bailey (and there are many of us) then this is a start.

• Outsider plays at the Labia on Orange Street on Monday, June 9 at 7pm and on Saturday, June 14 at The Bioscope in Joburg.

• The 16th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival runs from June 5 to 16 at The Labia and V&A Waterfront Nu Metro in Cape Town and the Bioscope in Joburg. Check www.encounters.co.za for further schedule information, or visit www.deependfilms.co.za/film/outsider to find out more about Outsider.

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