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Unveiling African Artistry

Five cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront are again highlighting artistic accomplishments from Africa and its diaspora.

The Zeitz MOCAA building overlooking beautifully bustling Cape Town.

THIS AUTUMN, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art (Zeitz MOCAA), is presenting five gound-breaking contemporary exhibitions to put the spotlight on some of the most talented present-day African artists. This is in line with its objectives as a pioneering Pan-African and Pan-Diasporic institution to redefine the boundaries of African artistic expression.

“My hope – along with my team, board, and the museum’s supporters – is for Zeitz MOCAA to function as a unifying force, intertwining personal and shared experiences with local customs and practices. In doing so, we aim to reintegrate dialogues that are both provocative and true to the African narrative,” says Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA’s executive director and chief curator.

Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA’s executive director and chief curator.

Since its inception, Zeitz MOCAA has drawn visitors from around the world by demonstrating the cultural, environmental, and social relevance of a prestigious international art museum in the context of Africa.

These five exhibitions, currently on show, aim to captivate the senses through different mediums.

PAST DISQUIET

Installation view of Past Disquiet

Past Disquiet is an exhibition of stories, told by artists with political causes. These stories are told by means of documents, photographs, pamphlets, press clippings, posters, interviews, and videos. This documentary and archival exhibition is based on research conducted by curators Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti for over a decade around four seed collections of art intended to be “museums in solidarity” or “museums in exile”. On show until 24 March 2024.

SELF AS A FORGOTTEN MONUMENT

Le peuple du mur #6, an inkjet print on 300g cotton paper, by artist Mame-Diarra Niang.

Self As a Forgotten Monument – a survey of artist Mame-Diarra Nian’s works over the past decade – forms part of an ongoing series of in-depth, research-based solo exhibitions by Zeitz MOCAA. Works central to Niang’s journey as a self-taught artist show how her inward-looking process of image-making actively challenges the conventions of documentary and portraiture photography. Since Time Is Distance in Space, a multiscreen filmic installation that envelops the viewer, also includes a nuanced musical score composed and recorded by Niang. Self as a Forgotten Monument, curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg and Thato Mogotsi, is the first museum solo exhibition by Mame-Diarra Niang presented by Zeitz MOCAA. On show until 7 July 2024.

SEISMOGRAPHY OF STRUGGLE: TOWARDS A GLOBAL HISTORY OF CRITICAL AND CULTURAL JOURNALS

Curated by Zahia Rahmani, Seismography of Struggle: Towards a Global History of Critical and Cultural Journals is an itinerant exhibition and research project that focuses on journals as tools of resistance in anti-colonial and liberatory movements, spanning the late 18th century to 1989. The exhibition, presented in part as a dynamic film installation, delves into the rich legacies of black-led and anti-apartheid publications in South Africa, showcasing influential magazines like Drum, Zonk! and Staffrider, alongside Sechaba, Dawn, and Mayibuye, as well as academic journals such as Kronos.

Seismography of Struggle has been exhibited worldwide, evolving through ongoing research efforts. On show until 24 March 2024.

SALA

The Official Party, acrylic on canvas, by artist Salah Elmur.

Zeitz MOCAA’s permanent exhibition, Sala, is an appeal to visitors to experience the boundaries and potentials of a museum. The exhibition’s title, derived from ‘sala kahle’, part of a Southern African farewell phrase, invites you to stay, spend time with the exhibition, explore, reflect and engage with artists, artworks and the evolving museum space. Sala features the work of 17 influential artists from Africa and the diaspora, and include luminaries such as Joël Andrianomearisoa, Thania Petersen and El Anatsui. Patrons will be able to actively participate in Zeitz MOCAA’s journey towards becoming a catalyst for African and diasporic artistic knowledge. Sala is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg in an innovative collaboration with the Zeitz MOCAA and University of the Western Cape Museum Fellows 2023. On show until 12 April 2026.

SEEKERS, SEERS, SOOTHSAYERS

Buhlebezwe Siwani, AmaHubo, 2018.

Seven artists whose lens-based work explores accounts and experiences connected to the nonphysical world are featured in Seekers, Seers, Soothsayers, curated by Beata America and Tandazani Dhlakama. This invisible world can be thought of as spiritual, supernatural, psychological, or abstract. The featured artists – Gladys Kalichini, Latedjou, Sekai Machache, Nyancho NwaNri, Pamina Sebastião, Buhlebezwe Siwani, and Helena Uambembe – use experimental film, immersive installation, performance, sound, and narration to depict how ritual, devotion and acts of remembrance can offer connectedness and bring restoration. On show until 13 October 2024.

Seekers, Seers, Soothsayers – Domingo é Dia de Descans, a single-channel video projection with sound, by artist Latedjou.