Drive along the Woodstock strip in Cape Town and you will find most of the galleries boarded up. Cape Town, and especially the art world, takes a while to wake up this time of year.
The streets are empty. The gallerists are on holiday, the artists are warily working off what remains of their festive season imbrications and adjective is stretching its legs.
This year promises to be a big year for South African art in the global arena. Jo’burg based Parts & Labour will present Mohau Modisakeng and Candice Breitz at the Venice Biennale under the curatorship of Lucy MacGarry. Gabi Ngcobo will curate the next Berlin Biennale. The Foundation Louis Vutton will host an exhibition of 15 emerging South African artists in April…the list goes on.
But what does this all mean? In recent years the surge of international interest in South African art has meant that the economy has experienced remarkable growth with the number of dedicated commercial platforms for art increasing exponentially.
However measuring the scope and influence of this growth is not easy when it comes to looking at the resulting cultural reproduction. A litmus test lies not in the institutions themselves but in the artists who call this world home. Put differently, who are these daring figures who choose to subject themselves to such a life?
What drives the thoughts that congregate around making this elusive thing we call art? What are the impulses that feed this creative spirit and it’s hesitant relationship to a market driven economy.
There are no simple answers to such questions. Instead we can only offer meditations that contribute to what it means to populate our world with art.