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FNB Art Fair: What not to miss at this year’s event

2016-09-04 00:01

Cape Town - It’s hard not to be a little jealous when you look at eastern Africa’s art scene, where the work of artists from the greater Horn of Africa and great lakes regions – such as Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – as well as from Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, continue to push boundaries.

Thankfully, there is the FNB Joburg Art Fair, which has engineered a platform so powerful that galleries from around the continent are clamouring to show work that would not normally be seen locally.

This year, the Keyes Art Mile is sponsoring the solo presentation – featured artist Wangechi Mutu. This Kenya-born, US-based artist’s body of fantastical creatures manifest in the form of performance, video installation, sculpture and collage. Her Sleeping Serpent II gets its South African debut, and is described by the artist as an exploration of her fascination with the ocean, a “metaphor for human fears and the subconscious”.

Jim Chuchu’s story is just as impressive as Mutu’s. For the first time, his work is getting a solo spotlight with Pagans, a photo series that envisions a reconstruction of “future-past anonymous African Deities” that attempts to “reconstruct precolonial religious practices in Africa”. It’s a cinematic thing of beauty, so don’t miss his spot at the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

The Goodman Gallery will be showing a special booth of this year’s FNB Art Prize winner Nolan Oswald Dennis’ Cape Town show earlier this year, as well as Clive van den Berg’s solo booth of sculptures. It will also show Kudzanai Chiurai’s new religious trade-routes installation for the first time in South Africa.

The Stevenson Gallery is going to be showing an “exhibition within an exhibition”, dedicated to showing new works from Penny Siopis, as well as two new publications of hers that will be released at the fair.

Amazing not-for-profit organisations and commercial galleries from throughout Africa have also been invited to exhibit, from Kampala, Addis Ababa, Bujumbura, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which should give us a taste of the more underground practices of east Africa, which we rarely see in the mainstream.

Find the Addis Photo Fest among the hustle and bustle. Curator and founder Aida Muluneh is also getting her own solo at the fair, presented by David Krut Projects.

Joburg’s art talks

The inaugural line-up of the fair’s TEDx Johannesburg Salon asks a group of engaging minds to try to answer three wildly complicated questions: How is art changing us? How is art changing our world? How might those changes help shape Africa’s future?

Expect some fascinating stuff from the first session, where Tate Modern curator Zoe Whitley will take the stage with the likes of performance artist Manthe Ribane, film maker Chuchu, curator and photographer Muluneh, and local arts writer Ashraf Jamal. William Kentridge and Neelika Jayawardane are up later in the day.

TEDx Johannesburg Salon takes place on 10 September from 10:00 to 14:30 at the Theatre on the Square in Sandton.

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