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
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