After our SA galleries made a very successful impact in NY, this article reflects on the challenges and difficulties involved in curating an event like ‘Armory Focus 2016: African Perspectives’, specifically on how to do so “without accidentally confining it to overly prescriptive visual categories”.
Quotes from the article by our local gallerists below:
“Turiya Magadlela is from Africa but what’s on the wall should speak for itself,” says Jonathan Garnham, owner and director of Cape Town’s blank of the artist he has brought to the fair. “It’s a bandwagon I don’t want to jump onto. The artists I work with also don’t want to be seen first and foremost as African artists. They want to be seen as artists who incidentally come from Africa.”
There are problems and limitations to any geographical focus. Hectic art fairs aren’t the most meditative places for contemplating art from an entire continent. There’s a whole lot more happening artistically in Africa, much of it non-commercial. Many artists and galleries can’t afford, or don’t want, to make it to The Armory Show, even with a welcoming focus.
At WHATIFTHEWORLD, Justin Rhodes, director of the South African gallery, voiced such perspective. But, he added, “for people to be exposed to new artists and to a different part of the world they’ve never seen before is a very good thing.” His booth presents the work of Dan Halter, and one of his maps of woven plastic-weave bags that trace the destination of immigrants through their very materiality had a reserve from a major museum. So what happens next, after the focus? “I hope people dig a little deeper. Scratch under the surface,” says Rhodes. What comes next, it seems, would be many more African perspectives.
Have a look at contemporaryand.com (C&), founders Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba were the Focus curators of the 2016 edition of the Armory Show.
Also check out Sean O’Toole’s summary for timeslive.co.za.