In anticipation of the 2020 Investec Cape Town Art Fair (ICTAF), The Art Momentum spoke with the curators of the fairs’ Tomorrows/Today section; Nkule Mabaso (Curator, Michaelis Galleries, Cape Town) and Luigi Fassi (Artistic Director, MAN-Contemporary Art Museum, Nuoro, Italy), both of whom have extensive experience as curators and are known for embracing a collaborative curatorial approach.
Tomorrows/Today, a special segment of the ICTAF, coalesces a selection of solo presentations by emerging artists across the globe. Over the past five years, the segment has grown to become a highly-anticipated component of the fair. Past iterations have positioned Tomorrows/Today as a section that acknowledges emerging artists; artists who have previously gone unrecognised and those who are at the early stages of their careers. Although this is still the case, Mabaso and Fassi explain that what makes an artist emerging is fluid, situational, and doesn’t take on fixed or anchored definitions.
This year’s selection includes artists whose artistic expressions are highly advanced, innovative, and experimental, but most importantly they critically engage personal, social, and political concerns and have strong ties to the African continent. Although there is no thematic thread pulling the selected artists towards each other, the curatorial structure is based on artists whose practices excavate critical questions, interesting propositions, and profound reflections, particularly those that engage with the African continent. The notion of “African roots” is an important starting point in the selection process, however the curators are careful not to fixate on unalterable ideas of Africa. Mabaso explains that Africa can be thought of as embodied in the artist and can also present in an artists’ relationship with the continent through a historical connection. Fassi elaborates, “Our aim was to stick to the African roots of the section but at the same time extend the understanding of that by including galleries and artists that are close to an African identity even without being directly from Africa,” he says. “I think at this stage it is key for Tomorrows/Today to embrace diversity and keep expanding its research scope. As curators, we wanted to embrace a larger focus, one able to include artists from Europe, North America, and the Middle East.”
Art fairs remain complex and contested spaces with different stakeholders whose ideas regarding “fair agendas” may be on opposing ends. A key challenge for curators within art fairs is the complexity of balancing commercial interests with work that critically engages history and discourse. Mabaso notes that fairs are a crucial element of the art business and, in this context, curators work within the constraints of the model to embody the full scope of the fair while presenting interesting dialogue. Tomorrows/Today functions as a platform of ideas, stimulating encounters, and thought-provoking art.
The fifth iteration includes artists whose work spans across various mediums – photography, painting, sculptural installation – and content; dealing with architecture, landscape identity, memory, and power, among other concepts. The full list includes Danica Lundy (Canada), Amanda Mushate (Zimbabwe), François-Xavier Gbré (France), Andy Robert (Haiti), Fathi Hassan (Egypt), Ernesto Shikhani (Mozambique), Nnenna Okore (Nigeria), Gregory Olympio (Togo), Bonolo Kavula (South Africa), and Isabelle Grobler (South Africa).
An article by Nkgopoleng Moloi
Featured Image : François-Xavier Gbré, “Eko Atlantic #1”, Lagos, Nigeria, 2014. Pigment print on fine art paper, 100 x 150 cm. Courtesy Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Dakar, Paris).
This article was written for The Art Momentum | Cape Town Art Fair Artpaper 2020.
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