Cape Town Welcomes Africa's "Tate Modern"

Art & Design

September 23, 2017 | BY AFP

The biggest ever art institution in Africa opens this week in Cape Town.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a cultural institution spanning over 6500 square meters of exhibition space. The inaugural shows will utilize all of the 100 galleries available across seven floors.  It has been deemed Africa's Tate Modern after it sold out its 24,000 tickets even before opening its doors.

Housed in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the most striking buildings ever constructed in Africa—and the continent's first such institution devoted to contemporary art. Heatherwick Studio reimagined the Grain Silo Complex on the Cape Town skyline as "a new kind of museum in an African context." It was built with private funds but is a not-for-profit public institution and houses the collection of the German businessman Jochen Zeitz, along with a series of temporary exhibitions. The museum will have top-end restaurants, cafes, shops and a 28-room boutique luxury hotel on its upper levels.

(Related: 5 Off-The-Beaten-Track Museums In London To Explore)

"This museum is a symbol and an icon of the confidence we feel about being Africans, the confidence we feel about our place in the world," said Mark Coetzee, Executive Director and Chief Curator, in an official statement.

One of the inaugural temporary exhibitions is "Luanda, Encyclopedic City" by artist Angolan artist Edson Chagas, consisting of stacks of thousands of mass-produced images from the artist's photographic series "Found Not Taken" (2009- 2013). The installation hasn't been exhibited since it won the Golden Lion Award at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Chagas set the installation within the most idiosyncratic space in the museum: in the transportation tunnels of the grain silo.

(Related: Get To Know The Artists Of This Year's Venice Art Biennale)

South African artist Nicholas Hlobo presents "iimpundulu zonke ziyandilandela" in the BMW Atrium. The work, originally created for the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, combines rubber inner tubing, colorful ribbons, an animal skull, and pink theater lights.

Another key hub is the Curatorial Lab, a space for experimenting with curatorial practice, researching new methodologies, and addressing under-represented topics. The project strives to promote intercultural understanding and develop critical thinking about gender and sexuality. South African photographer Zanele Muholi's "Faces & Phases" series will be featured, giving proud visibility to a hugely marginalized community confronting injustice.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa opens on September 22. 

(Related: The World's Most Popular Modern Art Museum Is Getting Bigger)

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