Writing Art History Since 2002

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David Adjaye, El Anatsui, Marlene Dumas, William Kentridge and Yinka Shonibare amongst the artists exhibiting in Cape Town’s inaugural art biennial. By Kim Gurney

Trans Cape, the much anticipated large-scale multimedia exhibition of African contemporary art, has been postponed. Originally scheduled to open on September 23 this year, it will now take place from March 24 to May 2, 2007. The decision to reschedule was prompted by delays in funding from key stake holders and an enormous interest from the corporate sector to support the project in the new financial year, according to CAPE Africa Platform, the organisers of the event.
The exhibition, led by artistic director Gavin Jantjes, is the first in a series of biennial exhibitions planned by CAPE. It says the exhibition’s title refers to the shifts, changes, disruptions and relocations of people on the African continent as well as the movements and changes in contemporary African visual culture.
Alternative modes of presentation and encounter with contemporary art are intended to help transform the public’s idea of a large-scale exhibition. The event is spread across 24 venues and sites along a cultural route that maps the greater Cape Town metropolitan area, from the city centre to Muizenberg, through township restaurants and B&B’s to the Spier wine estate near Stellenbosch. Exhibition venues include galleries and museums, public sites such as Look-out Hill and the Oliver Tambo Sports Centre in Khayelitsha, Kirstenbosch Gardens, as well as a number of stations on the Cape Town — Muizenberg line. Transport between locations is conceived as part of the curatorial concept: access will be provided through a mix of public transport and vehicles commissioned as artistic projects.
Roughly 70 artists from South Africa, the African continent and diaspora have been selected to participate. Several newly commissioned works will be exhibited alongside existing works, which broadly address the exhibition theme. Aside from biennale regulars such as Willie Bester, William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas, South African artists selected include two Tollman Award winners, Nicholas Hlobo and Mustafa Maluka, mixed media artist Dineo Seshee Bopape, and Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko, whose photographs featured prominently in Okwui Enwezor’s recent Snap Judgments group show, held earlier this year in New York.
Amongst the Pan-African artists joining them are celebrated Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, 2004 Turner Prize nominee Yinka Shonibare, and conceptual architect David Adjaye, who recently collaborated with Wangechi Mutu (this issue’s cover artist) at New York’s Salon 94 gallery. Lesser known, locally at least, is Congolese photographer Sammy Baloji, whose work is shown here. French-speaking Baloji has previously collaborated with Belgian photographer and filmmaker Marie-Françoise Plissart (see page 50). Also showing is Dominique Zinkpé, a sculptor from Benin. He has previously shown work on the Dakar and Havana biennales, and exhibited alongside Barthélémy Toguo in France.
Trans Cape is also promoting an artist-led, fringe initiative. Titled X-Cape and curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, it aims to encourage interaction between artists, cultural practitioners and exhibition visitors.WHO’S SHOWING Adel Abdessemed, Sónia Abdul Jabar Sultuane, David Adjaye, Taïeb Ben Hadj Ahmed, Muhsana Ali, Ghada Amer, El Anatsui, Sammy Baloji, Zarina Bhimji, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Isaac Carlos, Jorge Dias, Godfried Donkor, Sokari Douglas-Camp, Bright Ugochukwu Eke, Safaa Erruas, Mounir Fatmi, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Annie Anawana Haloba, Romuald Hazoume, Susan Hefuna, Baaba Jakeh, Hassan Khan, Bodys Isek Kingelez, El Loko, Misheck Masamvu, Celestino Mudaulan, Patrick Mukabi, Mambakwedza Mutasa, Ingrid Mwangi, Hany Rashed, Yinka Shonibare, Freddy Tsimba, Emile Youmbi and Dominique Zinkpe. The South African artists selected are Willie Bester, Dineo Seshee

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