/ 21 October 2022

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa partners with Gucci to put on its first annual fundraising gala

Zeitz Museum
The Zeitz MOCAA museum at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa(Photo by: Marc Hoberman/Hoberman Collection/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Arguably the most anticipated fashion event of the year, the Met Gala, took place in New York in May with the theme America: An Anthology of Fashion. Founded in 1948 by American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, the gala was created as a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York. 

Now organised each year by editor-in-chief of Vogue Anna Wintour, the gala brings together celebrities and trailblazers in the entertainment industry, collaborating with some of the biggest designers on the globe to get their take on the theme.

Well, Africa is gearing up for its own one-of-a-kind fashion and art event of the year presented by the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in partnership with Italian luxury brand Gucci — the first annual fundraising gala, themed Art & Opulence. Set to take place in Cape Town on 19 November, the gala is centred around showcasing the best that Africa and its diaspora has to offer in entertainment, fashion, art and design.   

The gala will preview a new exhibition titled When We See Us, as a focus on celebrating black excellence while encouraging conversation around black self-representation. This will be done through art and portraiture spanning over 100 years.  

It explores themes such as the “perpetuation, essence and radicality of black joy” to  commemorate, not only the African continent, but Africans and all that encompasses African-ness within the global African diaspora. 

The exhibition includes more than 200 pieces of artwork that have been sourced from all over the world, examining how artists from the continent and African diaspora “reimagine, reposition, memories and assert themselves through the 20th and 21st centuries”. 

The inspiration for the title came from the 2019 Netflix series by American producer Ava DuVernay When They See Us, which speaks to the abuse of, and discrimination against, black identities and black bodies. It was based on a true story of five men who were falsely accused, convicted and jailed for the assault and rape of a white woman jogging in New York’s Central Park in 1989. It speaks to the ongoing war and violence directed towards black people globally.  

Situated in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa was opened in September 2017 and is the largest museum in Africa. It’s location has historical significance as it’s housed inside the old grain silos, a landmark built in the early 1900s, serving as a reminder of South Africa’s industrial and agricultural development. 

The museum’s design is a modern re-examination of this landmark, acting as a home for African art and design. A non-profit establishment, the museum focuses on collecting, preserving, researching and showcasing modern art from the African continent and its diasporas. This is captured by one of the art exhibitions currently on show at the museum Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora. It draws on the perspectives of 13 artists, historians, filmmakers, musicians, writers and thinkers on the historical, cultural and linguistic connections between Africa and Asia. 

The funds raised at the gala will assist in advancing the museum’s mission of creating a metropolitan space that promotes and propels the observation, scrutiny and study of African art education and its diaspora as an important, yet distinctive, catalyst for the scrutiny of our societies.

Executive director and chief curator of Zeitz MOCAA Koyo Kouoh says the gala’s theme celebrates the excellence, achievement and assertion of the “global black experience and is true to our relationship with the larger art and culture field”.

“In its role as a site for public dialogue, exhibitions, research and collection, and the storytelling that contemporary art enables, the institution promotes narratives that are important to the building of communities and we see this gala as a significant milestone in working towards this vision,” says Kouoh.

The gala will be co-chaired by Kouoh alongside business woman Carol Bouwer and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw with former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss as MC. While Celebrity chef Reuben Riffel will be serving a delectable three-course meal on the night and award-winning musicians DJ Zinhle and gqom musician NV Funk performances are sure to set the dance floor on fire.  

Tickets for the Art + Opulence gala party are available to purchase here.