Avitha Sooful announced as !Kauru 2014 curator
Art Source South Africa02/07/2014 09:42:56
!Kauru African Contemporary Exhibition titled Rerouting Dialogue 1994-2014 at the UNISA Art Gallery on 22 May 2014.
We are excited to announce that Avitha Sooful has been appointed as the curator for the !Kauru African Contemporary Art Project 2014. Sooful holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. She currently holds the position of Head of Department of Visual Arts and Design at the Vaal University of Technology and is the Vice President of SANAVA. As an active practising artist herself, she has participated in various exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her most recent exhibition was at the Cité International des Arts, Paris.
This year’s !Kauru African Contemporary Art project celebrates 20 years of our democracy and freedom in South Africa with the exhibition titled Rerouting Dialogue 1994-2014 the exhibition will open at the prestigious UNISA Art Gallery on 22 May 2014, co-inciding with Africa month. This is the third year of this South African initiated project which aims to stimulate conversations in Africa and internationally, to facilitate a change of perceptions about the continent using the vehicle of contemporary art.
“We are delighted to be working with UNISA Art Gallery on this 3rd phase of the project. Partnerships with prestigious institutions such as UNISA will enable us to fulfil our mandate and will have a lasting and widespread impact.” says Tshepiso Mohlala, Project Director. We welcome them to our growing network of partners and look forward to a great season”.
The !Kauru African Contemporary Art Project aims to encourage a dialogue and debate within Africa and internationally in order to facilitate a change of perceptions about the continent through the vehicle of contemporary art. The project was launched in 2012 by Mohlala with the support from the International Relations Department, a portfolio of Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). The Department of Arts and Culture has supported this initiative because it seeks to integrate the region. The project creates international markets for artists in th visual arts sector and enables the Department to implement their mandate to promote inter-cultural relations in the continent. Through this partnership, the funder endorsed the project’s aims - to support the objectives of the African Union and to foster co-operation between African states.
The Rerouting Dialogue 1994-2014 exhibition engages a contemporary African dialogue to stimulate a change of generally held perceptions. The exhibition provides a platform for artist’s to engage issues about Africa which talk to who we are as Africans today. Attention is focused on our current identities, which are also informed by our rich histories, cultures and contemporary experiences, which contributes to Africa as a dynamic continent. The exhibition initiates a dialogue between artists from South Africa and the SADC regions with artwork reflecting the societies from which they originate.
“As a concept the idea is to initiate dialogue within countries, the Continent and globally realising the value and contributions that the African continent has made within its boundaries and to the global world”, says Sooful.
Explaining the exhibition title, Sooful says, “The title of the exhibition should be viewed in a broad spectrum of Africa and the SADC region’s contribution to the sustaining of the global world in terms of trade and other opportunities. This is supported by the interest, trade agreements and investment of many European, American, Chinese, amongst other international companies which underpins the histories and identities of our countries. Africa is viewed as new reservoir of raw materials and trading partner in the scramble to sustain world demands by other first world and emerging economic powers. This makes us a colourful yet complex continent to anchor as we negotiate global influences within our midst”.
“An African dialogue is complex as Africa is in a constant state of flux. There are critical issues which need to be visually voiced and verbally discussed, issues which create the momentum of Africa. Within these parameters this exhibition seeks to construct an African identity reflecting and celebrating our diversity thus creating an image archive of the Continent. The exhibition is perceived as a cultural atlas which reflects on the artists and his/her art-making. Media often directs and creates our history within sensational contexts. It is for this reason that the artist becomes the narrator of his/her lived experiences. It is imperative that an African conversation originates within an African context”.
“The project aims to sensitize South African and African audiences to the value of their own contemporary art production and to promote appreciation of quality contemporary art on the continent. Art is seen as a means to promote inter Africa /Diaspora cultural exchange in a direct and meaningful way, and allows us to reflect on the perceptions we have of one another, as well as that which the outside world has of Africa. In addition this project aims to establish a cultural network and to create visibility for the participating artists, art promoters and institutions – all of which will help facilitate the future sustainability of the visual arts sector”.
!Kauru provides a platform for African contemporary artists and cultural practitioners to present a showcase of contemporary art from the continent. Future plans include travelling an exhibition to the five regions in Africa. In the future !Kauru aims to incorporate all the regions of Africa in this project, which began in 2012 with artists only from the SADC region. This year invitations have been extended to Ethiopia, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria to be involved. Contemporary visual artists from the SADC which includes Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be invited to participate. The exhibition will exhibit the work of mid-career artists and will showcase the exceptional wealth of talent that exists.
!Kauru is a word from the indigenous Khoi people of Southern Africa. Its meaning is a concept is best described as looking at oneself, out of oneself, seeing other people and things across borders. The exhibition will invite public participation and to engage with its dialogue which will primarily address issues related to our cultural diversity as Africans. It incorporates the idea that art is beyond words and hence beyond language. This concept invites us to ask: Who is talking? Who are we talking to? What are they saying? Are we listening? Why are we talking? And most importantly, what are we saying? The project grew from Mohlala’s own experience of how we relate with one another as Africans, our different cultures and heritage. There is a need for Africa to speak with one voice.
“2014 sees new and exciting partnerships with Art South Africa/Art Africa, The South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) and the French Institute (IFAS), Johannesburg. The endorsement these partnerships bring has extended the support for !Kauru”, says Mohlala.
The first initiative of this contemporary visual art project was an exhibition that took place on 25 May 2012 at the Sandton Art Gallery in Johannesburg. This exhibition was curated by Andile Magengelele in conversation with Nontobeko Ntombela and titled, ‘Made in Africa’. The 2013 exhibition was curated by Melissa Goba, assisted by Eurydice Kala. It’s curatorial narrative and title was Cultural Brokerage: Africa Imagined (Act 1). It showed at Pretoria Art Museum on 24 May 2013.
“The content of the 2014 exhibition proposes to assemble ideas about body and subjectivity, questions of identity and place and notions of Africa as a global commodity”, says Sooful.
Rerouting Dialogue 1994-2014 will open on 22 May 2014 at the UNISA Art Gallery, Kgorong Building, Preller Street, Pretoria.
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