Writing Art History Since 2002

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South African artists in Mexico dousing weighty concepts in colour, film, sound and paint


November marks the inauguration of the Hacer Noché exhibitions – comprising of five major exhibitions, a residency program, conference and community education initiative. Hacer Noché devotes its focus to the artistic practices of Southern Africa – displaying an impressive chorus of both established and emerging South African artists including Steven Cohen, Athi Patra-Ruga, Penny Siopis, Portia Zvavahera, William Kentridge, Zanele Muholi, Cinga Samson, Simpiwhe Ndzube, Pieter Hugo, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Nicholas Hlobo, Kemang Wa Lahulere, Santu Mofokeng and more. Many of these artists having just settled down from Frieze London, have their artworks shipped off across the world once again – this time to Oaxaca, Mexico. With support from inside Mexico on state and federal levels including National Institute of Fine Arts, South Africa’s A4 Foundation, and the Idris Naim Foundation, as well as the artists themselves, this showcase of contemporary art proves to be a bold and up-lifting step towards collaboration and participation, encouraging the decentralisation of public culture.



Hacer Noché – translated to ‘Crossing Night’ explores societies’ relationship and cultural experiences of ‘death’ within both regions – through the lens of a South African contemporary art practice, exploring the social elements of ritual, the notion of the afterlife and evidence of ancestral lineage. This convergence of the two regions – Southern African experience within a Mexican context, attempts to reiterate the two nations cultural connections. Not short of socio-political context the partnership of these two regions highlight their shared history in the Transatlantic slave trade and current post-colonial status. With accurate and honest representation of the artists’ ideas and concepts as well as the nation they stand to represent, we are reminded of contemporary art’s ability to expose insightful perspective into the ideas, customs and behaviours of society.

The exhibition initiative is co-ordinated by Francisco Berzunza and his team of directors including a South African contingent of Josh Ginsburg and Anthea Buys. The opening week promises a full and exciting schedule of highly acclaimed South African exhibitions including meeting the five artists-in-residence: Penny Siopis, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Jared Ginsburg, Georgina Gatrix and Tiago Borges. Kentridge’s multiscreen caravan film procession More Sweetly Play the Dance screens at the Grand Opening on Saturday 10 November, as well as the exhibitions openings of both Pieter Hugo and Jo Ratcliffe, following talks at San Pablo Cultural Centre the day before.

With support and encouragement of hard-working individuals like the ones in this show, the world is able to catch a glimpse into the diverse nature of our existence through contemporary art’s ability to stretch our minds with the entertainment of clever thoughts and skilled hands. Exhibition initiatives such as Hacer Noché are able to provide rightfully earned stage to South African contemporary artists to wield brush and make sound; the audience – the world at large – is given space to contemplate the weighty concepts of our societies, doused in colour, film, sound and paint.


Crossing Night is an initiative of the Idris Naim Foundation and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico. The residency programme launches on 1 October and the exhibitions open across participating venues from 4 -10 November. Exhibitions will be on view until 5 Feburary 2019. The project is realised in partnership with Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú (Mexico), the A4 Arts Foundation (South Africa), Asociación de Amigos del IAGO y el CFMAB (Mexico) and the Ministry of Arts & Cultures of the State of Oaxaca.

Pamela Bentley is a writer on ART AFRICA‘s editorial team.

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