Art Week bursts on to the Johannesburg culture scene

Art piece by artists Mr Fuzzy Slippers and Nolan Oswald Dennis. (Supplied)

Art piece by artists Mr Fuzzy Slippers and Nolan Oswald Dennis. (Supplied)

It’s the end of August, a time that signals the onset of spring and an awakening to a city that has lain dormant during a cold winter.

Beyond Johannesburg’s change of season, this year it also marks an artistic awakening for the city in the form of the Arts Alive month from August 31, and the annual Joburg Art Fair, which takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from August 22.

Joining the city’s line-up of cultural showcases is Art Week, a week-long event taking place throughout the city days before the city’s art fair that seeks to highlight Johannesburg’s art scene beyond the happenings at the fair.

The event’s inclusive intent will be honoured by free shuttles to the various shows from pick-up points around the city.

“Creating collaborative synergies between galleries, artists, curators and arts organisations” is the aim of Art Week, says Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke, regional network development manager for the Visual Arts Network South Africa.

“All shows are free, easily accessible with shuttles, and they take place in venues from Braamfontein to Rosebank and Soweto,” says Uche-Okeke. “The Art Week concept uses programmes, exhibitions and events that participants already have in place, with a view to broadening their audience base and attracting a cross-section of visitors from various age groups, economic levels and cultural groups.”

Artlogic – which produces the art fair and is part producer for Art Week – “wanted to generate a broader engagement with the arts outside the convention centre during the art fair”, says Uche-Okeke. Together with Visual Arts Network South Africa and the Contemporary Art Development Trust, Art Logic helped bring together Cape Town’s Art Week in 2012.

Art Week vs Art Fair
The inaugural Johannesburg feature will take place alongside Art Fair, says Uche-Okeke, until it finds its own feet.
“Art Week is not an extension of the fair; it’s a dry run to something that we hope will one day be able to be a stand-alone event.”

Art Week features almost 50 artists and curators, and stretches into the neighbourhoods of Newtown, Maboneng and Alexandra.

“One of the main objectives of Art Week is to be out of the intimidating convention centre space and be accessible to people from all walks of life,” says Uche-Okeke.

The crew from Eat My Dust, a Soweto-based community cinema project. (Supplied)

Moving outside the gallery spaces and critiquing the idea of what art is, Art Week will showcase traditional and unconventional artistic expressions. A graffiti tour of the city by Two By Two Art Studio is on the schedule, and Ithuba Gallery will host record collectors Mushroom Hour Half-Hour’s pop-up radio show that will broadcast in and around Braamfontein on 102.2FM for the week.

Adding colour to the line-up is a performance by “futuristically ancient” music group The Brother Moves On and a live painting by artists Mr Fuzzy Slippers and Nolan Oswald Dennis at the Goodman Gallery, as well as a “talkabout” for Wits Arts Museum’s Doing Hair: Art and Hair in Africa exhibition.

In addition to the exhibitions already taking place at galleries around the city, Uche-Okeke says she is excited by the solo exhibition of one of South Africa’s legendary artists, Pat Mautloa, at Mashumi Art Projects and -Eyethu Centre in Soweto.

Mautloa says that for him the exhibition is like “a mini retrospective” as it features “work dating from more or less the time I started doing art”.

Alongside established galleries such as Momo, Everard Read and David Krut, Art Week’s line-up also includes new additions to the gallery scene such as in Alexandra and Kalashnikovv in Braamfontein, which will be presenting Gesture, a group exhibition featuring a collection of transdisciplinary artists.

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stefanie jason

stefanie jason

Following studying towards her Film & Media degree at the University of Cape Town and North Carolina State University, Stefanie Jason began work as a copy editor and writer for various South African publications, including Bona, True Love and Sowetan, as well as the Mail & Guardian. For the M&G's arts & culture supplement Friday, she writes about art, music & lifestyle when she isn't relaxing, traveling or checking out Jo'burg's many art galleries. Read more from stefanie jason

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