/ 29 August 2022

FNB Art Joburg presents the second edition of Open City

Lindiwe Mngxitama observes the 2021 FNB Art Prize winner, Wycliffe Mundopa's work at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Photos: Karabo Mooki/FNB Art Joburg

This year marks the second edition of Open City. A dynamic cultural celebration of art, music, fashion and food, from the inner city to Soweto, Rosebank, Hyde Park and Sandton, Open City is a variety of free and ticketed cultural events presented by FNB Art Joburg

It aims to encourage Johannes-burg’s visitors and inhabitants to immerse themselves in the city’s rich, layered cultural offerings.

This year, FNB Art Joburg is celebrating a 15-year milestone. The art fair is a collaboration with galleries to present the best of African contemporary art. Joburg is home to many theatres, four major concert halls, 281 heritage sites, 76 art galleries and the largest art collection on the continent — perfect for FNB Art Joburg’s mandate to sustainably support and grow the continent’s contemporary art market. 

Fairgoers with Zanele Muholi in front of a portrait and a Wezile Harmans performance at Art Joburg in 2019

This year’s fair is curated into six specialised sections. Each section will have a diverse offering of installations, public talks, lectures and presentations. The galleries participating are: Afriart Gallery, blank projects, Eclectica Contemporary, Everard Read, First Floor Gallery Harare, Gallery Momo, Goodman Gallery, Guns & Rain, Kalashnikovv, Smac Gallery, Stevenson and WhatIfTheWorld.  

Alongside the FNB Art Joburg weekend is Open City, a cultural programme comprising 10 exhibitors, utilising contemporary art in connecting West, East and the sub-Saharan African region. Open City is the perfect melting pot for admirers of art, artists and curators to gather and showcase Joburg’s cultural offering to the world. 

Mandla Sibeko at FNB Art Joburg at the Sandton Convention Centre in 2019. (Karabo Mooki/ FNB Art Joburg)

It aims to be the bridge between the misconstrued world of contemporary art and galleries, fusing it into our interaction with food, music and performance, in a way that makes art accessible, as well as celebrates and uplifts artists. 

Taking place until 9 September, Open City’s programme will activate the city with two weeks of exciting arts and culture. 

Visitors are encouraged to dress up, gallery hop, people watch and immerse themselves in the best of Joburg. 

When Open City was launched last year, in the middle of the pandemic, the physical Art Joburg Fair had been cancelled, as had the previous year’s, and in its place an online art fair was introduced. 

A Wezile Harmans performance during the 2019 iteration of FNB Art Joburg. (Karabo Mooki/ FNB Art Joburg)

Open City was an offering at a time when Joburgers were forced to refocus on what the city had to offer without looking outward. Here was an opportunity to celebrate well-known and emerging artists, as well as the rich and diverse history and culture of Johannesburg. 

Commenting on this year’s fair, managing director of FNB Art Joburg Mandla Sibeko says, “We are thrilled to be back with an in-person fair in 2022, while also expanding our culture footprint with 15-plus days of dynamic culture programming through Open City. 

“As the first and longest-running contemporary art fair on the continent, FNB Art Joburg continues to show active commitment to the arts and showcase the dynamic talent that Joburg, South Africa and the continent has to offer.”

True to its name and purpose, Open City, in conjunction with FNB Art Joburg, has invited artists, curators, event organisers and culture producers in and around the city to submit their work and be part of the Open City programming. 

Submissions were made in the following categories: Open Art, Open Food and Bar, Open Market and Open Platform.

Open Art is Open City’s programme focusing on public art, installations in unexpected locations as well as solo and group exhibitions in the Johannesburg CBD, Soweto and the Rosebank precinct. 

Open Food + Bar is a celebration of Joburg through culinary explorations. Open City invited restaurants, chefs and food event producers to submit proposals for food and beverage activations in the Johannesburg CBD, Soweto, Rosebank precinct, Hyde Park and Sandton. 

Open Market is a creative commons designed to showcase the best locally made artisanal products, such as textiles, ceramics, jewellery, furniture and luxury handmade goods.

Open Platform is the live performance aspect of Open City programming, with music, film, dance, comedy and culture-oriented events.  

Below are five free Open City activations to look forward to.

1. The Demonstration — Open

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art will host a 10-day series of art experiences in an effort to address systemic racism and racial inequality. 

These events include an art exhibition, an art workshop conducted by curator Simon Njami, artist and curator-led tours, as well as a public conversation series. The Demonstration will be held at the Constitution Hill precinct, 11 Kotze Street, Braamfontein.

2. The Elusive Metropolis Vol II — Open

For artists, the city is often materially linked to their practice, making materiality an intersectional component to artistic production in Joburg. 

Materials, subjects and spaces are used by artists to make sense of their identity and place-making in the city. 

Challenging Cameroonian historian Achille Mbembe’s essays interrogating life in Africa’s economic and cultural hub, the artists seek to address and reconcile life in Joburg. 

Rosebank is hosting The Elusive Afropolis group show at The Zone mall, 177 Oxford Road.

3. Walking graffiti tour  — Open

Arguably the street art capital of sub-Saharan Africa, Johannesburg has a thriving graffiti scene. With new murals by local and international artists colouring its walls, the city serves as a canvas, constantly communicating with its inhabitants. 

Present particularly in downtown neighbourhoods, such as  Braamfontein and Johannesburg CBD, Johannesburg in Your Pocket will facilitate a walking tour of the graffiti from Play Braamfontein on Juta Street to the murals of the Constitution Hill precinct. 

4. Open Air  — Open

Open City aims to open the art world by bringing accessible art experiences to the general public. Open Air is Open City’s public art and installation programme where artists are invited to activate the city with their murals, sculptures and installations in unexpected places. 

Blending performance, collage, video and installation, Natalie Paneng is a digital artist exploring contemporary clown theatre to satirically interrogate the ways people navigate the virtual worlds they occupy. As a part of Open City, her video work is lighting up Play Braamfontein, at 68 Juta Street. 

5. InfluenZArt in Newtown — 2 September

InfluenZArt is a live art video platform focused on experimental performance with local and international artists. For its first iteration, titled What’s the Point, the platform will present a series of short performances, live video projections and sound installations at the Carfax in Newtown. 

Curated, and including works, by Nelisiwe Xaba, renowned Joburg artist and choreographer, other artists presenting at this live art event include Joao Renato Orecchia, Kamogelo Molobye, Qondiswa James and Kwanele Finch Thusi. 

The performance will take place at Carfax, 39 Gwigwi Mrwebi Street, Newtown. 

Open City’s stand-out exhibition last year was Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, a group exhibition exploring black portraiture by painters from Southern and West Africa, co-curated by Anelisa Mangcu of Under The Aegis and Jana Terblanche. With this year being the first time everything is open, and the word has spread far and wide about what Open City has to offer, it will be exciting to see which exhibitions stand out and get the people of Johannesburg talking. 

l Surrounding the art fair the Open City programme runs until 9 September. Visit  https://tickets.tixsa.co.za/event/art-joburg-2022 for ticket sales or find FNB Art Joburg on social media, facebook.com/fnbartjourg (Facebook),  @fnbartjoburg (Instagram) and FNB Art Joburg on LinkedIn.