Writing Art History Since 2002

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ARTsouthAFRICA 13.1 is the ‘Interview Issue.’ In it, we engage in conversation with a number of carefully selected artists, curators, writers and organisations who we know are truly committed to transformation, to changing perceptions about contemporary African art practice, and promoting the integration of communities that might otherwise not be exposed to the wealth of talent from the continent and the ways in which art can change lives. We published a number of excerpts and now present the full interview with Shine Tani, self-taught artist and gallery director at Banana Hill Gallery, Kenya.

LEFT TO RIGHT: Shine Tani, and Breastfeeding by Shine Tani. Image source: http://bananahillartgallery.com
Africa is a new economic frontier where young people are shaping Africa’s future. What do they want to see, hear and read that will inspire them to embrace African arts and culture?

They want to see, hear and read about every successful African artist and art institution.

It can be argued that Africa’s time is now. How do we prepare to take full advantage of the opportunities that are constantly unfolding in front of us. More importantly how does the African contemporary art establishment position itself to emerge as a ‘global player’ whose voice can be heard and respected?

To take and make the most of this opportunity in front of us, we have to fully commit ourselves by presenting quality work in order to win over the world of art. The African art market needs to speak out so as to spread information across the whole world.

There is a perception amongst some on the continent that South African contemporary art is more ‘Western’ than ‘African’. How do we bridge the divide geographically and culturally, between the north and the south?

This depends on whom the artists work closely with. South African artists need to work more closely with other African artists, rather than with artists from the West.

Is a new trans national ‘African art dialogue’ needed to foreground the various conversations, challenges and successes from other African centers of culture and thinking?

Dialogue will not make any change. What will make a change are trans-national art exhibitions. We need to see what others do, rather than just hear about it.

If Africa can leave behind its idea of Africa as a geography, or as a post colonial reaction, or as being defined by blackness, can it then be defined rather as a new dynamic energy?

Yes, we would no longer be pitied by the West, or taken advantage of.

There is a new generation of Africans whose minds are not shackled by a past of oppression or power dynamics. How do we engage and inspire them to embrace art and culture?

Education is required by encouraging young artists to reach out to those of the same age.

What new stories of identity are revealed for this Africa through its art?

Daily activities that are captured by African artists will make the news.

Shine Tani is a self-taught artist who has exhibited throughout Africa, Europe and America. Along with his wife, Rahab, he owns and runs the Banana Hill Art Gallery, which supports the work of both upcoming and established artists. The gallery now represents up to 70 artists from all over the world.

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