HIFA 2014 day 2

writing, Zimbabwe

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/

Harare conversations

writing, Zimbabwe

Southern African Visual art festival at the UNWTO & Beyond:
visions for a Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennial

Free and open to all

Date:30 November 2012
time:10 am until 12:30 am
Venue NGZ library
Speakers Officials form ZTA, ministry of tourism & hospitality industry & NGZ directors.

Moffat Takadiwa texted me last night, “come to the meeting”
At 9:55 I was at the National Gallery. (there I met Takor Patel, I had been at his house in 1994, I will meet him for tea this weekend.)

At the speakers table were present the deputy director of the National Gallery Zimbabwe Mr. Raphael Chikukwa, head Africa & Middle East Zimbabwe tourism authority Mr Manjengwa and a little later executive director of the NGZ Mrs. Doreen Sibanda joined in. On the other chairs were present, painters, sculptors, photographers, basket makers and crafts, mostly all men, 5 women (excluding the director)

Mr Raphael Chikukwa opened the meeting telling us the importance of the Biennial ( “every other year” in Italian most commonly used within the cultural sector to describe an international manifestation). In Asia, specifically China the Biennials are big.

And it is true, they are fairly well organised. A year and a half before the event they start setting up shop
12 months before the event, letters and emails are sent out to inform artists, museum, galleries, unions , academies and curators that they can submit work
9 months before, submissions for artists are complete
4 months to go: artists are selected and informed
3 months to go: art works are shipped to China, catalogues are made
2 weeks to go: exhibition is set in place
1 day to go, artists arrive to participate in the opening festival and conference.
Because they have a well geared industry they produce beautiful banners and posters and catalogues and with an eloquent banquette the artist is made to  feel special. An exhibition will draw in about 300 international artists. Some biennials supply food, transport of art work and accommodation, others only supply the banquet.

Mr Raphael Chikukwa, continued to tell us about the importance of the Biennial, especially in Southern Africa were there is no such event. The last Biennial in Johannesburg 1995 failed to repeat and became a uno-ennial.

Mr Manjengwa (Zimbabwe tourism authority)  told us about the great opportunity available. A visual arts festival at the Victoria Falls. There would be tourists, hotels, a new airport runway. Each party could benefit, from the crafts people to the hotels to the taxi drives. “The cake is here”, he said, and continued to explain that it is a great opportunity for any organisation to put a plan on the table for the Victoria Falls, and we would share the cake. His message was clear as daylight, a circus manifestation, football conference, diamond digging conference it all brings in the tourists.

Questions from the public: is this the right place with no museums or galleries, are the tourists our main viewing public to our culture and art, what about the environment, will my weaving practice be seen, will there be facilities to exhibit the works and will they be save from the rains, will my district be fairly represented, will there be censorship?
Mr Manjengwa being a natural father figure took it upon himself to answer most of the questions with patience. The bottom line: his business is tourism. With the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next year 2013 there would be new facilities such as the  5 000 seater conference centre boosting Victoria Fall’s reputation as a world-class conferencing destination. I am sure he had other meetings scheduled from the birdwatching association to to the gold miners association.

The outcome of the dialogue: a committee had to be formed quickly. Seven to eight members. A hand was raised and Calvin Dondo was nominated. I raised my hand, and being in the front row could nominate  Moffat Takadiwa. Before long the committee was made. There was quick discussion if all districts, disciplines were present and gender. (Jane became gender). For those committee members that have attended an international art event will be aware of the importance of the cultural exchange of art and education, whereas other artists would be focused on show casing and selling their products to the tourists. An interesting thought on cake and culture.

This is the start to a possible Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennial of Southern Africa.

Back in the first floor gallery I had three more little visitors, I hope they remember the arts and one day  frequent the museums and galleries of contemporary art in Zimbabwe.

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

also see:

Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennale for UNWTO

Zimbabwean artists met in the capital last week ahead of preparations to mount a Southern African Visual Arts Festival in Victoria Falls next year.
The initiative will encompass artists from the region and is meant to afford them an opportunity to showcase their work to delegates attending the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, which Zambia and Zimbabwe will co-host in the resort area of Victoria Falls next August.



follow up https://kvans.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/mosi-oa-tunya-biennale-disneyland-in-africa/

Polygone Mesh in Harare

exhibitions, Zimbabwe
For those that are too far from Harare centre, I have made some photographs of the exhibition in the First Floor Gallery of Harare. The exhibition does not have titles, price-lists or name tags to disturb the visitor from enjoying the art.(true Gaidaro style)
K_Van, visual artist from the Netherlands shows his new paintings in
the First floor gallery Harare. It seems as if the objects in the paintings come out of the wall. Bulky, angular and industrial forms painted in tones and hues of green. “I break objects down with 3D design programs,” explains the artist, “Once I have a grid, I transfer the lines onto a canvas, tracing each vector using needle and thread.” The artist then paints the grids using oil paints in different layers and tones of colour. K_Van is not a new to Harare, he has exhibited here before in 1994. ‘My previous visit greatly influenced my work, this is the importance of cultural dialogue. When I returned home my vision had changed and I started to work  with a greater diversity of materials. Now that I am back, I realise that the Zimbabwean influence might have been deeper. Visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe again I looked at the strong angular lines in Nicholas Mukomberanwa’s sculptures. These lines must inspire many artists and I feel that through the years they have subconsciously influenced my work.

K_Van’s work can be seen at the First floor gallery Harare.
George Silundika ave 24 Mercury house from 10:30-17:00 or by appointment.

The exhibition will run until the 1st of December 2012 with a presentation at 17:00


a Nicholas Mukomberanwa’s sculpture