Day 4: Johannesburg

The opening of the 11th FNB JoburgArtFair 2018
– some, more or less, random picks and an unexpected nice surprise

This year the Fair will feature over sixty exhibitors withing the cathegories in the catagories Contemporary, solo presentation, Limited edition and Art platforms.

The art fair landscape in the South Africa consists of two art fairs. Cape Town Art Fair and the more established Johannesburg Art Fair, which was the first international art fair on the continent. According to Elana Brundyn, the Director of Noval Foundation, the two Art Fairs have quite different profiles. While Cape Town Art Fair should be more internationally founded, Joburg ArtFair has the African continent as the overall focus, a view that fits well with the Fairs own sense of self. In the preface of the catalogue the very visionary director of FNB JoburgArtFair, Mandla Sibeko writes something like“(…) Creating a mirror for African contemporary art to the world(….)”

1. pic. .jpg

The high-profile Fair has all the ingredients you would expect from an Art Fair. Around 45 galleries, including large-scale Installations, special projects (with e.g. Billie Zangewa and this years FNB Art Prize winner the Cape Town-born artist and activist Harron Gunn-Salie), talks, Art platforms, solo exhibitions (Zander Blom at Stevensons is one), 8 limited Edition prints, and of course the hungry art buyers and the loyal, local art crowd. It seems like everyone we have met so far was there: The Goodman Gallery, The blank project, Stevenson (with, among others, a work by Mawande Ka Zenzile, one of his typical cow dung paintings titled “iatrogenic”, a term which refers to diseases or damage caused by doctors), Josh Ginsberg from A4 Art Foundation,

The people behind Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation. So – the place to be if you are in the art world. Well apparently Loyiso Qanya and Jill Trapper from Greatmore Studios, weren’t there, probably because they represent the non-profit part of the art world.

The staffs from the National gallery in Zimbabwe, that we’ll visit next week, was there (they are also the ones being responsible for the pavilion at the Venice Biennale) And the Villages Unhu which we also have the pleasure of meeting next week in Harare, had a booth. Overalll a nice round-off of our program so far.

2. pic. Mawande Ka Zenzile

At one point this fair could be anywhere, and has the look of any other fairs, in terms of the framing and the set-up. It pulls in all directions with all kinds of very different works, of course an excess of saleable works. You can easily decipher and recognize it as a typical art fair, but at the same time something is definitely different, at least from art fairs in Scandinavia. What pop into my mind, if I should point out some tendencies
is the overall colourism and a tactility that is very much present. What also seems very popular right now is the staged photography, either as straight staged photography, or as documentation of performances, all featuring issues of the black body.

There were unexpected and surprisingly some very interesting works between the usual. What was very unexpected for me, was to find an hommage to the Fluxus movement. I found it in the muliti-diciplinary edition and publication company Bad Paper. They work with multiples and editions and aim to make art more accessible and to offer an alternative to the current gallery system. Refreshing with some Fluxus influence in a fair like this!!

The fair might give you a good overview and a sense of what is going on at the African art scene. But since I don’t have the prerequisites – my knowledge about the African art scene is quite limited – I can’t know with certainty whether the representation is comprehensive for the whole continent.

Kit Leunbach

4. pic. Homage Fluxus

FNB Art Price winner Haroon Gunn-Salie – For Senzenina

Immediately after entering the art fair I get pleasantly surprised by the visibility, scale and presentation of the contemporary section. Next to the entrance I find the large dark space in which the work of 2018’s FNB Art Price winner is presented. The Cape Town- born artists Haroon Gunn-Salie.

His work For Senzenina (2018) addresses the Marikana massacre, the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the ’60’s. A mass catastrophe that took place on August 16, 2012 when the South African Police Service opened fire on a crowd of striking mineworkers in the Wonderkop’s subdistrict of Marikana that were demanding an wage increase. In total the police shot and killed thirty-four, left seventy-eight seriously injured and arrested two-hundered-and-fifty mineworkers. They absolved some key political figures but families of the slain minders are still waiting reparations.

The work, an slightly lit black cube with roaring sound that’s already noticeable from far away, invites you to sit on the floor to experience a soundscape containing recent site recordings from Marikana, calls from the mineworkers to disamble peacefully, the entrapment of the workers by the police and chorus of anti-apartheid freedom songs lamented by the mineworkers moments before live ammunition was discharged. The audio-loop of 15-mintes and ends with a striking moment of silence. Intense. Touching. A stirring experience. Something I’d never expected to experience at the Joburg Artfair.

Florian Weigl

BAD PAPER – Creating Editions
In one of the corners of the fair, dedicated to limited edition prints, I found an exiting booth hosted by artists Rodan Kane Hart and graphic designer Ben Johnson.

Under the name BAD PAPER they’re running a fresh alternative (or addition) to the South African gallery system. Trying to introduce Johannesburg to the idea of ‘editions’. Something that already has quite a successful place in the European art market and is already on many mayor art fairs the hip, fresh corner to socialize, hang out and take your first step towards starting your first art collection.

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An idea that started while creating a personal artist publication for Rodan Kan Hart, the now first project of BAD PAPER. A limited edition book they’re very proud of. This result, made with care and quality, became the ambition to -at one point- offer every artists that they approach.

Conceptually, we’re interested in the idea of the multiple and all that it entails, including the lives of a single artwork in multiple locations, the preciousness (or lack thereof) in a copy, and the human elements of imperfection intrinsic to the process of repetition. (…) BAD PAPER collaborates with artists to concretize their existing ideas or to translate their prior experience into different modes of thinking. Ultimately, this results in tangible pieces ranging in medium from sculptures and designed objects to prints and artist books.


By creating affordable series of limited publications or object it becomes possible for young artists to sell, get noticed and make a step in their practice. Something that, specially since the lack of project spaces in South Africa, is essential. A very sympathetic approach that by previously working with Zander Blom, Cameron Platter, Jarend Ginsburg, Daniella Mooney and Bronwyn Katz will certainly be something to keep an eye on.

Florian Weigl

Sabelo Mlangeni at the Witz Art Museum and a work at the fair


‘The morning after 20 hours of praying’ by Sabelo Mlangeni

Sabelo Mlangeni has been photographing the Zinest Church which he has been a member of for many years. Having beautiful intimate images of this community that he chose himself to be a part of.
Being able to freely move around this community and tell his side of the story.
His work has as timeless feeling, whereas this photograph was taken in 2016. If you look closer at the image, you see the cell phones in the hands of the unknown church members. Cell phones have been a symbol of the modern world, whereas the image has a classical old feeling to it.
This work relates to how long this church and its community has been existing. Sabelo shows that he has an open approach to the unexpected little flaws that can happen when using an analogue camera.  Being open to the story that they still can tell and how it relates to the whole body of work.

Some other works

Sue Williamson


Billie Zangewa

Cinga Samson


Marion Boehm

Farren van Wijk

Galleries (click on institution name for link)
99 loop – Cape Town / Addis Fine Art – Addis Ababa / Afriart Gallery – Kampala / Art First – London / ARTCO Art Gallery – Aachen / Arte de Gema – Maputo / Barnard Gallery – Cape Town blank projects – Cape Town / Christopher Moller Gallery – Cape Town / Eclectica Contemporary – Cape Town / ELA – Espaço Luanda Arte / Everard Read and CIRCA Galleries – Joburg, Cape Town, London / First Floor Gallery Harare – Harare / Gallery 1957 – Accra / Gallery MOMO – Joburg, Cape Town / Goodman Gallery – Joburg, Cape Town / Guns & Rain – Joburg Kalashnikovv Gallery – Joburg, Berlin / Lizamore & Associates / MOV’ART – Luanda / Red Door Gallery – Lagos / ROOM Gallery & Projects – Joburg / Salon 91 – Cape Town / SMAC Gallery – Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Joburg / SMITH – Cape Town / Stevenson – Cape Town, Joburg / This is Not A Whitecube / WHATIFTHEWORLD – Cape Town, Joburg / Worldart – Cape Town

Gallery Solo Projects (click on institution name for link)
Amy Lin presented by Alida Anderson Projects / Roger Ballen with Hans Lemmen presented by ARTCO / Aida Muluneh presented by David Krut Projects / Mark Rautenbach presented by Eclectica Contemporary / Mamady Seydi presented by Galerie GALEA / Dale Lawrence presented by SMITH / Zander Blom presented by Stevenson

Limited Editions (click on institution name for link)
ARTCO – Aachen / Bad Paper – Cape Town / DALE SARGENT FINE ART – Cape Town LL Editions – Joburg / The Artist’ Press / SA Print Gallery – Cape Town / The White House Gallery – Joburg

Art Platforms (click on institution name for link)
Artist Proof Studio – Joburg / Another Antipodes – Perth / Bag Factory – Joburg / Department of Small Business Development – South Africa / Johannesburg Art Gallery – Joburg / Javett Art Centre – Pretoria / Kuenyehia Prize – Accra / Lalela – Joburg, Cape Town / Legalamitlwa Arts – Mmabatho / National Gallery of Zimbabwe / NJE Collective – Windhoek / SAFFCA – Joburg, Saint Emilion / The Project Space – Joburg / Village Uhnu – Harare

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