PORTRAIT Mike Turner WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo
FNB Joburg Art Fair curator Lucy MacGarry fills us in on the African art scene right now.
The eighth annual FNB Joburg Art Fair was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in September 2015. The fair has grown to the point that it has become an anchor for Joburg Art Week, which sees a vibrant programme of collateral events happening all over the city, with galleries, museums, arts organisations and artists collaborating to promote a public focus on the city’s art scene.
We’ve seen a huge interest in all things African. Is this a trend that will continue to grow?
Absolutely. When it comes to contemporary art, design and culture, all eyes are on Africa. It’s thrilling to witness a kind of rebranding of the continent and to be able to play a role in promoting this international interest through the annual FNB Joburg Art Fair.
The appetite for African art is palpable in our fair’s growing number of exhibitors and the budding of new African fairs such the Cape Town Art Fair, London-based 1:54 and Paris-based Also Known as Africa (AKAA). Still, while we ride this wave it remains essential for our artists to become more widely and fairly represented beyond the often-regional categorisation of African practice.
Name six young African artists whose works we should be buying right now.
Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Mikhael Subotzky (South Africa), Dean Levin (South Africa/USA), Omar Victor Diop (Senegal), and Adam Broomberg (South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (UK), who work together as Broomberg & Chanarin.
Some of Lucy’s favourite works at the Joburg Art Fair:
“This year, our special projects programme focused on experimental film and live performance, so it follows that a few of my favourite works can be described as multidisciplinary in form,” says Lucy.
Taking centre stage was Candice Breitz’s multi-channel video installation Him + Her – marking its inaugural showing in South Africa – along with a new project entitled Portrait of an Artist, conceived specially for the fair.
American musician and artist Benjamin Patterson, who is one of the founders of the Fluxus movement, made a rare and magical appearance with his interactive performance Paper Piece (1960), presented by the Goethe-Institut.
International film festival LOOP Barcelona screened the 2015 Discovery Award film Seeds (2012) by Israeli artist Shahar Marcus in which the camera follows a landmine clearance crew and a sower of seeds that follows in their tracks.
The Narrators (2015) by Jenna Burchell can be described as a series of interactive sculptural instruments that play with the notion of storytelling. With a simple touch, or by running one’s fingers through the strings, they reveal audible hints of a shared South African oral history.
A print by Hank Willis Thomas titled The Taming of the Shrewd, 1966/2015 (2015), which forms part of his show Unbranded: A Century of White Women, 1915–2015. He took 100 magazine ads, deleted the copy and enlarged the images as a comment on how white women have been portrayed.