Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art Cape Town

Zeitz Museum – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

During this travel adventure I’ve explored museums and galleries in different European countries, but South Africa’s Zeitz Museum always remained near the top of my list. I missed it in the past and made a point of popping in last week. The first and third floors are closed for renovation and will reopen in August. I still saw plenty of incredible art and discovered interesting artists!

MOCAA at Dusk – Heatherwick Studio Photo Iwan Baan

History

Completed in 2017, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) is a masterful creation by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. He converted a “century-old grain silo and historical landmark at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront into a world-class art gallery”! The privately-funded Zeitz is not only the largest art museum in Africa but also the largest exhibition in the world “showcasing the art of Africa and its diaspora”.

Thomas Heatherwick Architect – MoneyWeek.com

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“British architect Thomas Heatherwick was inspired to create an art institution on a continent as big as the whole of Europe and North America combined.”

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Jochen Zeitz Collector of African Contemporary Art – Deutschland.de

The goal was creating a space for bringing together works by African artists and “invigorating interest in African contemporary art”. MOCAA does the opposite of what the old grain silo did.

Koyo Kouoh MOCAA Director and Chief Curator – Zeitz MOCAA

“At the same time the V&A Waterfront was wondering how to develop its iconic grain silo, African contemporary art collector and German businessman, Jochen Zeitz, was looking for a museum to house his extensive collection.”

Zeitz Museum Atrium from Tunnel – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

Purpose and Design

The Zeitz Museum is dedicated to “researching, collecting, and exhibiting art from the African continent and beyond”. The exhibition space covers almost 65,000 sq. ft. on nine floors, with 100 gallery spaces.

Zeitz Museum Atrium Vault – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

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During the old days, “grain was exported outwards from the silo. The MOCAA creates a place where African art can return and from where it will not leak away.”

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Zeitz Museum Interstitial Space – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

The interior is carved out in the shape of an enlarged grain of corn resulting in a “series of curved concrete lines with light pouring through the cylindrical silos!” The design provides a vivid “cross-section view of the inner workings of the old industrial structure”.

Zeitz Museum Atrium – timeslive.co.za Photo Iwan Baan

Curator

Executive Director, Chief Curator, Koyo Kouoh, has 20 years’ of international experience. A native of Dakar Senegal, she’s developed art programs and curated contemporary African art in London and New York.

MOCAA Stairway

Artists

I’m in awe of the many extraordinarily talented, award-winning artists featured at the MOCAA. It’s slightly intimidating, and I’m still educating myself about African artists like Frances Goodman, Kendell Geers, William Kentridge, and Nicholas Hlobo. The works of a few favorites are detailed in this post:

  • El Anatsui – Ghana
  • Sory Sanlé – Burkina Faso
  • Sue Williamson – UK and South Africa
  • Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum – Botswana
  • Mary Sibande – South Africa
  • Joana Choumali – Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire
  • Neo Matloga – South Africa

El Anatsui – Art Basel

El Anatsui

El Anatsui was born in Ghana and lived in Nigeria. His career spams forty years as both sculptor and Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria.

El Anatsui When I Last Wrote to You About Africa

He’s known for repurposing alcohol bottle caps into large-scale hanging installations. El Anatsui creates art weaves from an accumulation of discarded production, trade, and consumption materials associated with colonial expansion in Africa.

El Anatsui Testimonial Aluminum and Copper Wire Brooklyn Museum – artefuse.com

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El Anatsui “breaks from the traditional cast of sculptural practice invoking a multi-layered, sensory re-imagining of our material world”. He’s “accomplished one of the few genuine breakthroughs in contemporary art anywhere in the world today.”

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El Anatsui TSIATSIA Searching for Connections – ruthball.weebly.com

His sculptures appear in the British Museum London, Centre Pompidou Paris, de Young San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art New York, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Osaka Foundation of Culture, and Tate Modern London.

El Anatsui – Pinterest

El Anatsui has many solo exhibitions and received awards and recognition all over the world. Some of his best-known works include:

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso

Sory Sanlé

Sory Sanlé is a Burkinabe photographer and owner off Volta Photo Studio. He lives and works in Bobo-Dioulasso Burkina Faso.

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso

Sanlé’s career began in 1960, the same year Burkina Faso won its independence from France. He’s known for documenting Bobo-Dioulasso’s “fast evolution” and capturing the “frontal collision between modern life and centuries-old traditions from Burkina Faso’s culturally rich rural regions”.

Mrlifeisrich Sory Sanlé – Pinterest

Sanlé portrays Bobo-Dioulasso’s people with “wit, energy, and sheer passion”. His background paintings, be they a modern city, beach walk board, airplane, or antique column, are outstanding.

Sory Sanlé Burkina Faso

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“Sory Sanlé’s subjects illustrate the remoteness and melancholy of African cities landlocked deep in the heart of the continent and the natural fusion operating between tradition and modernity.”

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Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansWinnie Mandela

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson was born in England but her family immigrated to South Africa when she was seven. She studied art in New York and in 1983, was awarded a Diploma in Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

Sue Williamson “Message from the Atlantic Passage” Basel, Switzerland. (Photo The Image Gate)

Williamson is both a journalist and printmaker who works “predominantly in installation, photographic images, and video”. Her work addresses social issues “pertaining to civil activism, citizenry, senses of community, or aspects of contemporary history as told from the perspective of individuals”.

Sue Williamson A Few South Africans – Miriam Makeba

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“I think early work in newspapers was formative in my art because of that sort of interest in people’s exact words and precise narratives.” Sue Williamson

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Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansLilian Ngoyi

In the 1980s, she created a series of “photo-etchings and screen print portraits that foreground the importance of women in South Africa’s political struggle”. In her work, Williamson emphasizes the “importance of revisiting history as a way of understanding a nation’s present”.

Sue Williamson A Few South Africans – Virginia Mngoma

A Few South Africans (1983-85) is a visual narrative attempt to fill the representational absence of people and events during Apartheid. It gives a tangible, iconic visibility to female leaders and women of courage who were active in the fight against Apartheid – Elizabeth Paul, Maggie Magaba, Winnie Mandela, Lilian Ngoyi, Annie Silinga, Helen Joseph, Nokukhanya Luthuli, Albertina Sisulu, Amina Cachalia, Caroline Motsoaledi, Virginia Mngoma, Charlotte Maxeke, and others.”

Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansAmina Cachalia

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“We’re in the process of coming to terms with the past. I think that, before we can move on, we have to reach a point where we can find our way to a solution and say: OK, we’ve confronted our past as intensively as possible.” Sue Williamson

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Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansAnnie Silinga

Some of Sue Williamson’s most powerful and best-known works include:

Sue Williamson A Few South AfricansCaroline Motsoaledi

Internationally recognized, Williamson has active art exhibitions in South Africa and around the world. She served as Chairperson of the Visual Arts Group, founding member of the arts organization Public Eye, and founding editor of Artthrob, a website on contemporary art in South Africa.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum All My Seven Faces  – omenkaonline.com

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Born in Botswana, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum grew up in Canada, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Malawi, and South Africa. She attended the Baltimore Institute College of Art and University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her solo exhibitions have appeared in the US, South Africa, and UK.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Sunstrum’s work “features black and brown people posed against contrived, hand-painted landscape backdrops”. Her landscapes “expand on themes of timelessness” where she “reconstructs sites both real and imagined to reveal the small scale of individuals within the vast universe”. Her beautiful, complex work is fascinating!

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s exhibitions include:

Let Me Show You My Ship – Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

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Themes in Sunstrum’s exhibitions explore “mythologies and theories of the creation of the universe” and the “co-reliant relationship between science and mythology”.

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Mary Sibande – In the Midst of Chaos There is Opportunity

Mary Sibande

Mary Sibande – sculptor, photographer, and visual artist – is based in Johannesburg. She was educated in Fine Arts at Witwatersrand Technikon and received a Bachelor of Technology from the University of Johannesburg. “Fascinated with fashion and fabric” Sibande focuses on “questions of the body and how to reclaim the black female body in post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa”.

Sibande “draws inspiration from her experiences growing up in South Africa”. Her “focus on the maid is cited as homage to her family, of which four generations of women served as domestic workers”.

Mary Sibande Long Live the Dead Queen – ruxandrabp.wordpress.com

Sibande works through Sophie, an “alter-ego and sculptural figure who traverses the uncanny valleys of liminal space”. Sophie is a symbolic figure speaking for “femininity, blackness, labour, post-coloniality, and communities on the margin as a whole”.

MOCAA Silos – Icon Magazine

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“My work is not complaining about Apartheid or an invitation to feel sorry for me because I’m black and my mother was a maid. It’s about celebrating what we are as women in South Africa today. For us to celebrate, we need to go back to see what we are celebrating. To celebrate, I needed to bring this maid.” Mary Sibande

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Sibande’s works include:

Mary Sibande Purple Shall Govern – MAC VAL Musée d’Art Contemporai

Sibande has received awards and appeared at expositions and festivals throughout Africa and the world. She is a research fellow at numerous institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, University of Michigan, and Ampersand Foundation. She’s involved with ActionAid South Africa and the Young Urban Women Programme raising funds and introducing art to girls in low-income communities.

Mary Sibande A Crescendo of Ecstasy – timeslive.co.za Alon Skuy

Sibande’s spectacular exhibit at the Zeitz MOCAA – In the Midst of Chaos There is Opportunity – depicts “women in combat, modelled on the artist’s mother, a domestic worker in South Africa, seen amongst blood-red canines and vultures”.

Joana Choumali Alba’hian

Joana Choumali 

Based in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire, freelance photographer Joana Choumali studied graphic arts in Casablanca and was an art director. Her creations exhibit subtle figures that “highlight the equal humanity of men and women”.

Joana Choumali Alba’hian

Choumali’s style includes conceptual portraiture, mixed media, and documentary. She “focuses on Africa, her assumptions about the diversity of cultures, and her expanding conceptions of the world”.

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“Joana Choumali uses photography to explore issues of identity and the diversity of African cultures.”

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Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali Resilients

Joana Choumali’s best-known exhibitions include:

Joana Choumali Hââbré, The Last Generation

Resilients documents young, professional African women who “struggle with connecting to their family’s traditional past”. To emphasize the link between past and present, the women were photographed wearing traditional clothing worn by their grandmothers or older female relatives. Hââbré,The Last Generation is about facial scarification across the Ivory Coast, a practice that is dying out,

Neo Matloga – Tyburn Gallery

Neo Matloga

Born in Limpopo in 1993, Neo Matloga studied at the University of Johannesburg. His work is exhibited locally and internationally and on display at the City of Ekurhuleni, the South African Embassy in Washington DC, and in private collections. Matloga lives in Amsterdam, where he’s an “artist at De Ateliers, a post-academic institution”.

Neo Matloga Khwela Jive-e-Binwa-Bjang -neomatloga.com

“Influenced by his father’s quote, “art should heal psychologically,” and the energy projected by South African youth, Matloga rejects limiting himself to specific artistic mediums. His paintings, drawings, and collages are versatile. They explore the Post-Mandela era and “mythic power of Sophiatown, an area outside Johannesburg”.

Neo Matloga

Matloga creates a nostalgic feeling by “collaging objects and materials that reference domestic households”. He produces “fragments of incredible happiness from his upbringing, conversations, and the poetic moments he remembers growing up in a Post-Mandela era.” The “main themes in his work center around his passion for black people feeling that there is an ability to belong and exist”.

Neo Matloga

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“As the legacy of apartheid persists, with no doubt there were and still are social issues such as crime and moral degradation, but none of this determines the concept of life in its entirety.”

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Neo Matloga Molatelo

Neo Matloga’s black and white paintings reflect “domestic life in South Africa’s black households” – with a kick. Titles appear in Sepedi, his mother tongue, spoken in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces. His “cast of characters play out every-day dramas, experiencing the struggles and consolations of desire and intimacy”.

Neo Matloga Hugh Masekela – robynsassenmyview.com

“The people in Matloga’s paintings are ‘moral agents’ affected by the socio-economic and political conditions that shape life outside and inside the four walls of their homes.” His characters have “outsized eyes, mouths, and ears, skin tone with abrupt changes, hairstyles and hats sitting atop the wrong heads, and comically misplaced accessories”.

Neo Matloga

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Matloga’s characters are described as “hybrids”. He forms their faces by “collaging together photographic images of friends, family, and famous figures from politics and the arts”.

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Neo Matloga Molatelo

Matloga uses the process of “cutting, reconfiguring, and collaging facial anatomy” for political purposes and to “identify with the racist gaze”. I had to do research on Matloga’s work to better understand it.

Neo Matloga’s solo shows and presentations include:

Francis Fukuyama at UCT

Professor Francis Fukuyama gave a public lecture on his new book, “The Origins of Political Order”, at the University of Cape Town (UCT) last night. Fukuyama is visiting Cape Town to present a course on ‘the role of public policy in private sector development’. The course is under the auspices of UCT’s new Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice.

I did some research on Professor Fukuyama and the information about him was fascinating. He is a renowned American political scientist, political economist, and author who writes on “questions related to democratization and international political economy”. He published one of his best known books, “The End of History and the Last Man”, in 1992. In addition to his new book, “The Origins of Political Order” published in April 2011, his other recent books include:

  • “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy”
  • “Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States”

In the new book “he explores the origins of three political institutions that form the basis for modern government – the state, the rule of law, and accountability”. Fukuyama thinks institutions are critical to achieving economic growth but people “take them for granted and fail to understand how difficult they were to create”. He analyses the beginning of institutions and how their progression affects the world.

In “America at the Crossroads,” published in 2006, Fukuyama “discusses the history of neoconservatism. He outlines his rationale for supporting the Bush administration, as well as where he believes it went wrong”.

In “Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States,” published in 2008, he “discusses why Latin America, once far wealthier than North America, fell behind in terms of development in only a matter of centuries. Discussing this book at a 2009 conference, Fukuyama outlined his belief that inequality within Latin American nations is a key impediment to growth. An unequal distribution of wealth, he stated, leads to social upheaval which in turn results in stunted growth”.

“As a key Reagan Administration contributor in developing the Reagan Doctrine, Fukuyama is an important figure in the rise of neoconservatism. He was active in the Project for the New American Century think tank starting in 1997. As a member he co-signed the organization’s 1998 letter recommending that President Bill Clinton support Iraqi insurgencies in the overthrow of then-President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. He was also among forty co-signers of William Kristol’s September 20, 2001 letter to President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The letter suggested the U.S. not only “capture or kill Osama bin Laden”, but also embark upon “a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq”.

“Fukuyama began distancing himself from the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration. By late 2003, he voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War and called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense.

Fukuyama declared that the Bush administration had made three major mistakes:

  1. They overstated the threat of radical Islam to the US.
  2. They hadn’t foreseen the fierce negative reaction to its ‘benevolent hegemony’. From the beginning they had shown a negative attitude toward the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations and hadn’t seen that this would increase anti-Americanism in other countries.
  3. They misjudged what was necessary to bring peace in Iraq and had been overly optimistic about the success with which social engineering of western values could be applied to Iraq and the Middle East in general.”

Fukuyama voted for Barak Obama in the 2008 US presidential election.

In an April 10th interview published in The Daily Beast Andrew Bast asked Fukuyama what he thinks of today’s world “with revolutions rocking the Middle East”… Fukuyama replied, “There’s something gratifying about the Middle East demonstrating that Islam is not at odds with the democratic currents that have swept up other parts of the world.” He added, “But what’s most important is what happens next.” Bast summarizes that Fukuyama refers to the “messy, often contentious process of engineering democracy. In these complicated places despotic rule has stunted political parties (or, as in Libya, erased them entirely), and gutted civil society. That’s where the trouble begins”.

On the “Arab Spring,” Fukuyama says, “I guarantee you in a year or two it will not look as hopeful. It’s the whole point of my book. You need institutions, leaders, and corruption has to be under control. These are really the failings of many democracy movements. It’s happening again—if you look at Egypt, the liberal parties are floundering.”

Andrew Bast was a senior editor at Newsweek until 2011. Currently he is at the Council on Foreign Relations where he is the editor of ForeignAffairs.com.

It was nice to be on the UCT campus and Fukuyama’s lecture was thought-provoking. A thorough understanding of the implications of Fukuyama’s writings requires considerably more time and in-depth research than I spent. It was a pleasure to hear him speak in person. How his ideas apply to the current democratic movement and issues in South Africa is another interesting subject.

Lost in Rondebosch, Constantia & Bishopscourt…

Cape Dutch House

Today was a day of continuously getting lost. It was my first day of hiring a car and driving myself around Cape Towns suburbs. Renting a GPS is South Africa is ridiculously expensive (?) so I’m traveling via maps alone. Decided to stay near Cape Town and spend more time at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden but made a wrong turn off the M3 highway… After that mistake I got lost in Rondebosch, Constantia, and Bishopscourt (that I know of) until eventually finding the long way to Kirstenbosh about mid afternoon. All of these areas are in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. None is a bad place to get lost.

Rondebosch lies along the eastern slop of Table Mountain and is where the first group of Dutch East India Company employees settled along the Liesbeek River in the 1650s. Named after a river in Holland the Liesbeek was originally called the Amstel or Versse River. It starts in the mountain gorges above Kirstenbosch and empties into Table Bay. Today Rondebosch is the main campus of the University of Cape Town.

Guinea Fowl

Constantia is one of the oldest and most affluent suburbs of Cape Town. It’s best known for its wine. The Dutch Colonial Governor of Cape Town established Groot Constantia (Great Constantia in Afrikaans) in 1684. Other Constantia wine farms include Steenberg (Mountain of Stone), Buitenverwachting (Beyond Expectations), Klein Constantia (Small Constantia), and Constantia Uitsig (Constantia Outlook). Many of the homesteads along the Constancia wine route are excellent examples of Cape Dutch architecture. The Dutch established a number of estates and farms in the Constantia area. When the British settlers took over in the 1800s they bought many of the farms and turned them into country residences.

The last suburb I visited before finally stumbling upon Kirstenbosch was Bishopscourt, a small, wealthy, residential suburb which supposedly has about 300 households.

Egyptian Goose

Kirstenbosch is a fascinating place with much to offer including exotic plants and birds, views, and interesting, unusual large sculptings throughout the grounds. The smells are divine. During this visit I saw many birds including guinea fowl, Egyptian geese (odd-looking birds with big red feet), and many I did not recognize. Just learning the names of a small number of the birds and plants at Kirstenbosch is a formidable task. I plan to return to Kirstenbosch often. It’s a very special place!

The next outing will be to Muizenberg on the Cape’s Indian Ocean side as I venture further away from Cape Town. A friend from the last trip to Cape Town, Bobby, will go with me on some of the outings. One of Bobby’s sons lives in Santa Barbara and she promises to come visit me the next time she’s in the US.