The mother OF ART MU­SE­UMS

The Zeitz Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Africa is the big­gest of its kind in the world and its open­ing this week­end has ob­servers call­ing Cape Town the next Miami of art. Ear­lier this week, Charl Blignaut was given a sneak preview of the cathe­dral-like space

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cre­at­ing a broader cul­tural precinct. The Water­front thought long and hard about what to do with the gi­ant clus­ter of pro­tected build­ings stand­ing smack in the mid­dle of some of the most valu­able prop­erty on the con­ti­nent, says White. A sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural of­fer­ing was what they de­cided on, but they didn’t a col­lec­tion of art to put in it.

En­ter Coet­zee, who had been Zeitz’ buyer on what was col­lo­qui­ally known as the Puma Col­lec­tion (Zeitz is a for­mer boss of footwear com­pany Puma) and had helped es­tab­lish a new gen­er­a­tion of young African artists through his pa­tron­age.

“It is the found­ing col­lec­tion that cu­ra­tors can draw from, but it is not the only thing,” says White.

The mu­seum works with new-school gal­leries that have sprouted in Cape Town and are trans­form­ing its gallery scene, and it will be buy­ing its own col­lec­tion.

“We have a long-term loan agree­ment with Zeitz, but the plan is to be self-sus­tain­ing,” White adds.

Of course, the project has courted con­tro­versy. It is hard to miss the Re­claim the City protests fo­cused at the Som­er­set Precinct, lo­cated be­tween the Water­front and the Cape Town Sta­dium. Ac­tivists are de­mand­ing af­ford­able hous­ing in the tourist mecca. Many in the art world ac­cuse Zeitz Mo­caa of be­ing elit­ist and in­ac­ces­si­ble to the peo­ple it wants to reach and ed­u­cate.

In­side, White walks me through some of the 80 gal­leries that also house cen­tres for film, photography, per­for­mance, cu­ra­tion and the like. All the dar­lings of the new school are here: Ed­son Cha­gas (An­gola), Zanele Muholi (South Africa), Kudzanai Chi­u­rai (Zimbabwe), Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya), Mo­hau Modis­ak­eng (South Africa), Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Nandipha Mn­tambo (Swazi­land) and so on. As these artists start to shift the art world’s gaze away from Asia and cen­tres such as Miami, the mu­seum of­fers a cred­i­bil­ity and a sense of im­por­tance that feels like it is ush­er­ing in a new age for our art.


EX­QUIS­ITE The size, scale and cathe­dral-like in­te­rior de­sign of Zeitz Mo­caa is breath­tak­ing

Zanele Muholi’s Bester I, May­otte, 2015 Cheri Samba’s Kalasi Ki Nduenga, 2005

Kudzanai Chi­u­rai’s Rev­e­la­tions III, 2011

Cyrus Kabiru’s Ma­cho Nne 05 (West­gate), 2015

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