NAILING ART: Les Etres D’Africadia (Masquer) II by Siwa Mgoboza.
NAILING ART: Les Etres D’Africadia (Masquer) II by Siwa Mgoboza.
RUBBER TRAIL: THE REVENANTS II, Recycled rubber on fibreglass body cast, 176cm x 46cm x 56cm by Patrick Bongoy.
RUBBER TRAIL: THE REVENANTS II, Recycled rubber on fibreglass body cast, 176cm x 46cm x 56cm by Patrick Bongoy.
AN ART TO BE SEEN: DJ InviZAble performs at THAT ART FAIR 2016. Picture: Courtesy Brendon Bell-Roberts
AN ART TO BE SEEN: DJ InviZAble performs at THAT ART FAIR 2016. Picture: Courtesy Brendon Bell-Roberts
ART AFRICA FAIR will start next month at the V&A Waterfront, bringing together emerging and established artists, collectors and curators from around the continent for a 10-day art spectacular. Offering for the first time a fully-curated commercial art fair by internationally recognised curators Salimata Diop, Uche Okpa-Iroha, Pierre-Christophe Gam, Thembinkosi Goniwe and Ruzy Rusike, the show is a must for art enthusiasts.

The platform offers artists a chance to exhibit their work, meet collectors and curators. The event’s fully-curated approach is a first for Africa and will present a unique snapshot of Africa’s most exciting contemporary art, offering a multi-sensory art experience from a range of contemporary artists.

Structured around a dynamic curatorial programme with an open call for participation to artists and galleries, this curatorial model favours an alternative, museum-styled exhibition experience, inviting artists and galleries to propose work that provokes alternate artistic visions of the continent, as defined by individual, lived experiences. This approach is an attempt to transform vernacular African ideas into tangible expressions, to challenge stereotypical understandings and to introduce, propagate and take responsibility for new representations about Africa.

ART AFRICA FAIR’s illustrious line-up of international curators include Salimata Diop (Senegal/France), Uche Okpa-Iroha (Nigeria), Pierre-Christophe Gam (Cameroon/France/UK), Thembinkosi Goniwe and Ruzy Rusike (South Africa). Channelling their accumulative expertise through an open call for participation, the ART AFRICA FAIR 2017 is an important addition to the international events calendar and ushers in a new wave of creative energy while celebrating the artist as the hero of the show.

As a site of interaction, the fair aims to develop and encourage new audience engagement and a greater culture of appreciation of and support for the visual arts. This will be achieved through the development of an exciting, welcoming, and accessible environment, where audiences are encouraged to participate, engage the work, and opportunities to meet the artists.

Challenge the status quo

As a platform, the ART AFRICA FAIR aims to challenge the status quo by moving beyond the traditional gallery orientated focus in favour of a museum-styled experience. The curatorial model will renegotiate the ways in which such events are seen and experienced by providing an opportunity for artists to re-envisage the cultural landscape of our continent without being subject to market trends.

Bring it home

Over recent years we have witnessed a global proliferation of major fairs dedicated to contemporary art from Africa, from London and Paris, to New York and Lagos, and further afield too. While this is very beneficial, it is also important that the subsequent economic and cultural benefits of this hype are not lost on local audiences, and that we are able to have these globally relevant conversations on local soil to develop a sustainable economy for artistic practice in Africa.

The event

The ART AFRICA FAIR will present a multifaceted, museum-styled experience, comprising four unique, interdisciplinary chapters.

These comprise 1) the BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS Award & Exhibition; 2) the Photography & Lens-based focus; 3) A Flagrant Arcade in Contemporary Art; and 4) Our VIP Lounge & Social Hub.

In addition to this, the fair will host THAT ART PARTY, featuring some of the most exciting musical talents from across the continent.

Bright Young Things (BYT) Award and Exhibition

Curated by Salimata Diop, this programme features talented young artists who have excelled in their respective practices.

Bright Young Things has been a feature in ART AFRICA magazine for more than 10 years. To date, this unique component of the publication has showcased the work of 100 young artists, many of whom have since been catapulted into high-profile careers.

Eight finalists have been selected to exhibit their work in a dedicated section at the fair. Each artist will create new works for the exhibition, and the three top finalists will be recognised at the event in the form of residency awards. This will assist them in the production of a new body of work.

The international selection committee and jury will assist the BYT finalists in securing international gallery and museum exhibitions in the coming year.

Photography and lens-based media

Curated by award-winning photographer and educator Uche Okpa-Iroha, the objective of this exhibition is to counter preconceived notions pertaining to Africa in Western media by looking at works that aim to rewrite African histories.

Uche said: “Our story starts with us. It is an exciting journey, and who better to tell it but us.”

A Flagrant Arcade in contemporary art

A curatorial duologue between Thembinkosi Goniwe and Ruzy Rusike, A Flagrant Arcade seeks to contribute to the swelling meaning, value and appreciation of the contemporary art of African artists. Goniwe and Rusike will explore the fragile yet enduring pertinent attitudes of our time, whose creative and intellectual quest is the continuous wrestling with and advancing evolutionary offerings of African Contemporary Art.

That Art Party

Music meets art, meets urban cool at THAT ART PARTY, playing host to 400 guests who will be entertained by some of the most exciting performing artists and DJs. Previous THAT ART PARTY line-ups have included the likes of DJ Invizible, Spoek Mathambo, The Brother Moves On, and Felix Leband.

* Event information: ART AFRICA FAIR will run from February 24 until March 5. Location: Jubilee Hall, Watershed, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tickets available on Visit: