Three Cape Town events next month – That Art Fair, the Guild International Design Fair and the Cape Town Art Fair – herald the start of the local art festival season and with this in mind, the Mail & Guardian has selected 10 art fairs and events to check out around the country this year.
In order of when the art fairs take place, here’s our list:
That Art Fair
This new art fair is another event to add to Cape Town’s packed visual arts calendar. The Art South Africa initiative – which takes place in the same week as Design Indaba, the Guild International Design Fair and the Cape Town Art Fair – presents works by up-and-coming young artists from the continent. It takes place in a parkade in Salt River on the fringe of the gentrified Woodstock, a neighbourhood that has, over the years, become home to many of the city’s art galleries. Unlike traditional art fairs, this showcase features comic art, fashion exhibitions and graffiti murals.
The second edition of this fair, which shines a spotlight on design from all over the world, is all set to have a huge effect on the global craft scene. The five-day event is to host works by some of Mzansi’s esteemed artists, such as Kendell Geers and Conrad Botes, who is putting on a solo show of large-scale sculptural works. The Southern Guild show taking place at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront boasts Botswana furniture designer Peter Mabeo’s human nests and Los Angeles-based design company the Haas Brothers will debut a new collection called Afreaks.
Despite the Cape Town Art Fair being fairly new on the art scene, this four-day event is fast becoming a drawcard for collectors, dealers and artists. Taking place during the city’s annual Design Indaba week, the fair features speakers such as American critic and performance art curator RoseLee Goldberg and South African artist Stephen Hobbs. This year’s exhibition highlights include museum night at the Iziko Museum and the Art in Public Places installations around the V&A Waterfront. Showcasing contemporary art from a range of galleries across the country, the fair takes place in two main venues at the V&A Waterfront: The Avenue and a marquee alongside the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
Penny Siopis’s artwork will be on display during the art fair. (David Harrison)
At annual festival, photographers from the continent challenge 'Afro-pessimist' narrative
The results of such explorations can be problematic. When the
Swiss-Guinean photographer Namsa Leuba traveled to her mother’s native
Guinea for the first time, hoping to probe the mystical aspects of her
African roots, she took sacred statues and fetishes and attempted to
“separate [them] from their religious context in order to immortalize
them in a Western framework.” Many villagers, however, considered her
images sacrilegious and reacted to them with hostility. The experience
helped frame the photographer’s later works.
“I constantly question myself,” says Leuba. “Through a lens, I test my
self-analysis and I put myself up for discussion. In some ways, my
photographs are judgments, or accusations.”
While Leuba’s series for LagosPhoto, “Cocktail,” explores
contemporary representations of the African woman’s body, the lavish
photos — originally commissioned by the Paris-based fashion and culture
magazine WAD — burst with a colorful boldness and insouciance that seem
to speak to an Africa that is increasingly young and urban. Indeed, many
of the participants in this year’s festival are conversant in the
visual tropes of hip-hop and fashion, something that artists like
Chiurai suggest will be a powerful force for Africans photographers
shaping a new narrative for their continent.
“There’s a different language that my generation uses,” he says. “The
population is younger now. We have a greater voice in all of this.”