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!Kauru African Contemporary Exhibition Titled Cultural Brokerage; Africa Imagined Act 1 opens at the Pretoria Art Museum on 24 May 2013.

The !Kauru African Contemporary Art project is in full production for the 2013 exhibition that will open at the Pretoria Art Museum on the 24th May 2013. This is the second year of this project which aims to stimulate conversations within Africa and internationally to facilitate a change of perceptions about the continent using the vehicle of contemporary art.

It is scheduled to celebrate Africa Day on the 25th May 2013 as well as commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the African Union. The exhibition will run from the 24th May – 30th June 2013. Through a series of talks, walkabouts, lectures, seminars and other programmes aligned to the exhibition, the project aims to sensitize and mobilize South African/African audiences and the media, in the appreciation of contemporary African visual arts. Art is seen as a means to promote inter Africa /Diaspora cultural exchange in a direct and meaningful way. In addition this project can also establish a network and create visibility for the participating artists, art promoters and institutions – all of which will help promote the future sustainability of the sector.

!Kauru provides a platform for African contemporary artists and cultural practioners to engage around a showcase of contemporary art from the continent that will travel 5 regions of the African continent. The strategy aims to incorporate all the regions of Africa over the lifespan of the project, which began in 2012 with artists from the SADC region. This region once again is the focus for the 2013 project season. Contemporary visual artists drawn from most of the South African Development Community (SADC) which includes Angola, Botswana, DRC, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, will be invited to participate. The exhibition will promote mid-career to established artists and will showcase the maturity and exceptional wealth of talent to be found within the region.

The exhibition is a platform to promote conversations in Africa and to change perceptions abroad of the continent through its contemporary art. It is also a means to promote continental understanding of our heritage, as well as a respect of our different cultural backgrounds. The word !Kauru is indigenous to the Khoi people of Southern Africa . The concept means looking at oneself, out of oneself, seeing other people and things across borders. The exhibition will invite the public to participate in its discourse and dialogue and the debate will primarily address issues related to our cultural diversity.

It incorporates the idea that art is beyond words and hence beyond language. This concept invites us to ask: Who is talking? Who are we talking to? What are they saying? Are we listening? Why are we talking? Most importantly, what are we saying? The project grew from Mohlala’s own experience of the way that Africa’s different cultures, countries and regions view each other and engage with one another.

“Arising from these often narrow attitudes appears a lack of confidence in the way our visual contemporary art is viewed; both by ourselves and by others. It is still the default view to see ‘African art’ as primarily tribal, ethnic, traditional, crafty and ‘naïve’ in genre. This therefore undermines the relevance and importance of our contemporary artists and the sophistication of their practice.”

A senior South African curator has been appointed to work on the 2013 exhibition and we are excited to announce these details in due course.”

The first initiative of this contemporary visual art project was an exhibition that took place on 25 May 2012 at the Sandton Art Gallery in Johannesburg which was accompanied by a workshop on professional practice for aspirant contemporary artists. The exhibition, “Made in Africa” was curated by Andile Magengelele in conversation with Nontobeko Ntombela. The exhibition featured the works of Franck Lundangi (Angola), Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (Botswana), Blessing Ngobeni, Sandile Zulu, Lehlogonolo Mashaba (South Africa), Alex Maphalala (Swaziland), Patrick Makumbe (Zimbabwe) and many more.

!Kauru 2013 will open on 24 May and will run until the 30th June 2013 at the Pretoria Art Museum, Corner of Francis Baard and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Arcadia, Pretoria.

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