86 Zeitz shines a light on the con­tem­po­rary scene

The con­ti­nent’s largest mu­seum of con­tem­po­rary art has at last opened its doors in Cape Town

The Africa Report - - CONTENTS - Crys­tal Order­son in Cape Town

The V&A Water­front is a land­mark ev­ery Capeto­nian knows for its shops, restau­rants and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties. Now, with the open­ing of the multi-mil­lion-dol­lar Zeitz Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Africa, it will also be­come the go-to des­ti­na­tion for art lovers world­wide. “This mu­seum is a sym­bol and an icon of the con­fi­dence we feel about be­ing Africans,” chief cu­ra­tor Mark Coet­zee said at the launch in Septem­ber. “The con­fi­dence we feel about our place in the world.” A public, not-for-profit mu­seum, it is the largest con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum on the con­ti­nent, with a to­tal area of al­most 10,000m2 in­clud­ing ex­hi­bi­tion space of 6,000m2 spread over nine floors, ded­i­cated to ex­hibit­ing the best of African, di­as­pora, and in­ter­na­tional art. It is al­ready be­ing dubbed the Tate Mod­ern of Africa. The tubu­lar mu­seum was carved out of an old, dis­used grain silo that was once one of the tallest struc­tures in the coun­try by Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Thomas Heather­wick over the past two years. In a nod to the struc­ture’s former use Heather­wick formed corn grain-shaped cutouts around the mu­seum. The Zeitz houses 80 sep­a­rate gallery spa­ces dis­play­ing the tal­ent of the ‘new school’ of African art. Its col­lec­tion in­cludes work from An­gola’s Ed­son Cha­gas, Zanele Muholi from South Africa, Kudzanai Chi ur ai of Zim­babwe, Nandipha Mn­tambo from Swazi­land, and Cyrus Ka bi ru and Wan ge chi Mutu, both from Kenya. Cha­gas’s Luanda, En­cy­clo­pe­dic City, an in­stal­la­tion con­sist­ing of 23 stacks of 5,000 masspro­duced im­ages from the artist’s pho­to­graphic se­ries, fea­tures in the open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion. This work was part of An­gola’s maiden pav­il­ion at the Venice Bi­en­nale in 2013, which won a Golden Lion award. Another must­see ex­hibit is South African Ni­cholas Hlobo’s iim­pun­dulu zonke ziyandi­lan­dela, which trans­lates from Xhosa as ‘all the light­ning birds are af­ter me’. The work, which was orig­i­nally cre­ated for the 2011 Venice Bi­en­nale, com­bines rub­ber in­ner tub­ing, mul­ti­coloured rib­bons, an an­i­mal skull and pink the­atre lights. The Zeitz mu­seum adds an edge to the V&A water­front, which is still an ideal lo­ca­tion to en­joy a sun­downer drink over­look­ing Robben Is­land and the ex­pan­sive At­lantic Ocean.

The sculp­tural mu­seum is carved from a hon­ey­comb of gi­ant con­crete tubes in the former grain silo

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