Zimbabwe has great clouds. Low flying puffs of vapour twisting in the sky. They reach high over the tree tops but are close enough for you to be in contact with them, like messengers from heaven. It is my belief that artists are influenced by their land. Fly over the Spanish landscape and you see the rugged canvas of the Spanish painter. The Dutch painter has the ordered lines. Of course I am generalizing, but a sky filled with endless blobs of beautiful clouds must have some impact on the people.
HIFA 2014 day 5
In the HIFA green pavilion, reserved for the artists (as in musician artist?) we sat and compared football management with the arts market. All the Zimbabwean contemporary artists know someone personally that has exhibited at the Venice Art Biennale. Meaning that there are many Zimbabwean contemporary artists who have exhibited in Venice, or there are few contemporary Zimbabwean artists that everyone knows. Being so close to the grand art market unsettles the artists, as would happen if a hand full of kids would be sent to Rio to play in the world cup football. My position is detached from the art market, although I must confess, when living in Brussels, we were neighbours with Angel Vergara the artist who represented the French Community of Belgium at the 54th Venice Biennale. But when we spoke, it was never about art nor football.
HIFA 2014 is the 15th festival since its start in 1999. The arts festival is now the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe and is seen as a key contributor to the development of performing arts in southern Africa. The national gallery of Zimbabwe hosted two discussions in the morning. I would attend the ‘wind of change’ with Doron (AMBA), but mistakenly landed up in the other. The selected panel took turns to stand up and talk about their artistic projects and experiences. Bands using social media, a man using jet-set connections to promote his song in creative-industry style. The people attending were mainly performing artists or involved with organizing events and festivals (including team members of HIFA), so when the discussion opened up some great insight was given to the cultural climate of Zimbabwe. For example unclear sponsorship deals, lack of quality, unjust expectations, but foremost the lack of access to give cultural education.
While the discussion group went to have breakfast, Doron and I found the ‘wind of change’. A formal panel discussion, with seats for Mr Chikukwa, Dr Bere, Mr Kangai, Mr Hwati, Mrs Sibanda, Mr Klinghofer, Dr Samwanda. Separating the panel group with a long table and a three meter gap sat we the audience, a few artists, press and collectors.
A point from the discussion: is contemporary Africa art ready for the art market as China was ‘discovered’ less than half a decade ago?
This year you will see the fashion industry inspired by Africa tribal objects and patterns. But this is not the same as the Chinese contemporary art. China has brought art to the world markets in order to boost the local value of their contemporary arts for speculators and investors in China. So there was no real incentive to sell art to the west, in contrary to African contemporary art that does not have much of a local market. Further more, in Africa, as some of the panel members pointed out, there is little local awareness of contemporary African art and the main priority should be to attend to nurture the local awareness of African culture in Africa.
The discussion was ended with 2 pots of strong tea, and biscuits.
In the evening I attended the CABS opera Gala
Traditionally sponsored by CABS, a local banking group, and with it the traditional opera night. Best described as opera light for novices, a lot of small but well known pieces are sung. http://gonexc.me/2014/05/01/hifa-2014-day-2/
HIFA is a 6-day festival of popular culture in Harare. The first floor gallery of Harare recommended I should come to see the festival and participate in the group exhibition: Harare No Limits!
Harare’s contemporary artists create their vision of the city and its people.
The festival was kicked off in the national gardens behind the National gallery on Tuesday night by an opening event with dance and music, followed up by drinks and finger-food at the ABC Bank director’s tent. But before the drinks were served, the elite guests and special stake holders were assured that their bank accounts would soon be accessible after a technical hitch. Yet rumour has it that selected managers have had access to large loans that they are failing to repay resulting in the freezing of all banks transactions. This is Africa.
T.NDABAMBI | ZIMBOJAM.COM
The next morning I returned to the National Gallery to unofficially attend the panel discussion the ‘wind of change: the new interest in contemporary art’. The panel would discuss how the global art market would focus its attention on Africa the way it had zoomed in on Chinese art less than a decade ago.
However I was ushered into the wrong room, and participated in a new exciting discussion….
K_Van places small objects on a platform which rotates by means of a small mechanical device. The objects are experiments and studies that make part of an evolving process. The artist observes the shadows of the objects form on the surface, using this experience in his research of forms and texture for his paintings and drawings.
The theatre setting that he creates for these small works is made in such a way that the viewer focuses on the object. In this way the viewing point remains relatively static while the object reveals itself contrasting its contours on the backdrop.
K_Van uses wood, clay and paper to build the objects; in equally simple way, he draws in black and white multiple variations of these objects.
follow this event http://www.hifa.co.zw/visual-arts/harare-no-limits/
First Floor Gallery Harare, opening 08 May 17:00