As I wander through the expansive halls of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, I am struck by the vibrant energy emanating from the bold, colorful artworks adorning the walls. Cape Town’s cultural scene has been forever enriched by the presence of this significant institution, which showcases contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.
The Museum’s Mission
Zeitz MOCAA is to encourage cultural conversation and to share between Africa and the rest of the world. The museum’s emphasis on African artists and its commitment to showcasing a wide range of contemporary art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance art, is commendable.
The museum’s current exhibitions are a testament to its commitment to promoting diverse perspectives and artistic expression. I’m especially moved by Mary Evans’s “GILT” show, which asks viewers to think about how slavery, colonialism, racism, and late-stage capitalism have hurt people in the past. The exhibition features life-sized silhouettes, assembled in a narrative form called “history paintings,” that serve as a counter-narrative to complex black histories. Using materials such as paper and disposables, Evans nods at how the black body has been treated historically and contemporarily.
I am also struck by “When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting,” which celebrates self-representation and global black subjectivities from pan-African and pan-diasporic perspectives. The exhibition comprises over 200 artworks from black artists around the world, with a focus on painting. In addition, the exhibition’s accompanying publication includes essays and commissioned works, making it a comprehensive exploration of black figuration in the art world.
Igshaan Adams’ “Not Working (Working Title)” is a studio workshop that gives artists in Cape Town a chance to do new work, study, and develop ideas for future projects. Adams wants to bring attention to the people, practices, and networks often hidden behind his art. The Atelier is where artists can try new things and get a unique look into their work and processes.
Lastly, “The Five Continents of All Our Desires” by Joël Andrianomearisoa is a site-specific commission that celebrates relationships and connections, exploring migration, language, and human contact themes. This artwork is made of black silk paper, Andrianomearisoa’s signature material. It has six giant sculptures hanging in an archipelago shape. The music piece and showing of the artist’s graphic works give the show more depth.
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa celebrates Africa’s and its diaspora’s rich cultural history. It shows the variety and vitality of modern art from Africa and other parts of the world. It is an important cultural center for both Africa and the rest of the world.