Let us follow the humming bird[i] to find access to sustainability and anchor the wave of Global interest for “out of Africa” Contemporary Art
This unprecedented formidable tide reached our shores during the last few weeks[ii]. The later had been generated by the alchemy emanated from a combination of a few factors as inter alia:
- The quality, the depth and the diversity of the Contemporary Art on the African Continent.
- A true interest.
- A global artworld fatigue.
- A relentless and gigantesque appetite for the new.
- The constant need for value creation in an exhausted growth-based system in general and more specifically in the art market[iii].
- The breathlessness of the Chinese wave.
- The frenetic progress of the Information Technologies and the Social Media diffusions.
- The multiplication of the Art Fairs.[iv]
- The escalation appearance of African Contemporary Artworks in public, corporate and private Collections in Africa and globally.
It is now our duty to underpin the wave by substance and content on one side and the growth of the audience on the other. Furthermore, it is essential to deeply root our buttresses in the many layers of our young democracy and of our art world.
When we succeed, queues will signal the approach to our museums like in Paris or New-York. If we want to sustain internationally, we will have to start by ensuring a phenomenal progression of our own domestic support. Which is already burgeoning at an Afrocracy level through the relentless efforts of Pulane Kingston and a few others.
Therefore, we need now to make sure our children are invited to our museums, artfairs and galleries and wish to come back with their parents to slowly erase the threshold and liberate the access to the African Contemporary Art. We need to include the university students and young professionals in our talks, presentations, debates and social media diffusion. We need to convince the public and private sector to display genuine artworks in the work environment and stay away from useless printed decorative matter. We need to establish a true and fruitful collaboration in between the variety of sectors of the Southern African Art World and blur any potential boundaries… as Wendy Fisher so often reminds us of. Let our art be proudly sold in our respective African currencies as a true decolonisation measure ( a euro or dollar price conversion can always be indicated in brackets for the global collector ). Let us furthermore encourage our artists to mature from the selfie’s age and, while rooted in our own heritage,universalise their quest. There lie some of the keys to the sustainability of the miracle[v].
Without this genuine domestic support, enthusiasm and following we have no chance to remain at the table. As my father told me: we can if we want if we want it for long enough…
A special thanks to the voices of the artistic dispersion being the artists, gallerists, curators and to Pulane Kingston, Wendy Fisher and Josh Ginsburg, Wendy Luhabe, Mandla Sibeko, Laura Vincenti, Jochen Zeitz and Mark Coetzee, Standard Bank, First National Bank, their team and so many others who made these two memorable weeks a celebration of the beginning of a new chapter in our Southern African Art adventure.
They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes.
Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular humming bird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked-up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire.
Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again.
All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”
[ii]For two consecutive weeks we received some of the cream of the global art aficionados or the 10thanniversary of the Johannesburg Art Fair and the opening of the MOCAA in Cape Town. The closest we came to this level of global enthusiasm rests in the vivid souvenir of the first and second Johannesburg.
[v]This is how I depicted the selfie in “For the love of Being…”: The Selfie is a cry of despair from a youth no longer able to believe in their own existence and their own worth unless proven by instant appearance on the web.