Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi (Artist) | Neo Trinity Rakgajane (Artist/Designer) | Khanyisile Mbongwa (Artist) | Katleho Shoro (African Arts Institute, Projects Manager) | Moeketsi Moticoe (Photographer) | Lavendhri Arumugam (Director, Ithuba Arts)
Through conversations with practitioners, curators and institutions based in Johannesburg and Cape town, we got a glimpse into the workspaces and mindsets of South Africa’s emerging creative practitioners who make up part of one of the most innovative and progressive arts scenes around the world.
There were a number of recurring issues that came up in conversation that brought to light some of the complexities within the visual arts landscape in South Africa, mainly around infrastructure. Government and society alike are reluctant to place sufficient value on the arts which affects funding and restricts support for emerging artists and designers in the early-to-mid stages of their careers. This is a global issue. Around the world, a lack of governmental support in the arts has been fuelling innovative grassroots movements and it is the artist-led practice that makes the creative sector in South Africa groundbreaking.
Neo Rakgajane spoke about the lack of space for creative discourse in Johannesburg. To tackle this issue, Neo founded The Design Share Party - a monthly public event that brings together creative practitioners from all fields to talk about their work, inspirations and passions. This platform has helped to harness the creative energy in the city, sharing knowledge, networks and skills to develop one anothers practice.
Another prominent topic of conversation amongst the creative community was around space and access in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Khanyisile Mbongwa has been working to bridge the divides between the townships and the city centre, between the places where arguably the most interesting and innovative work is being created, and the place where most of South Africa’s creative work is being exhibited. Not necessarily working to bring township practices to the centre, but rather to change the viewing patterns so that people move from the city to the outskirts to view work within context.