Five years of gallery LAB
with FNB Art Joburg
When it was first established in 2019, gallery LAB was fulfilling FNB Art Joburg’s mandate of being an action-based fair. A way to encourage and support subversion, it is a space for alternative models, galleries and collectives to play and experiment because the more galleries we have, the more robust the ecosystem.
In 2022, gallery LAB curators Kim Kandan (FNB Art Joburg fair manager, gallery liaison) and Esi Aida Hayfron-Benjamin fostered collectivity, collaboration, community-based critique and cross-pollination. A means to bridge the gaps between northern, western, eastern, southern Africa and the diaspora, gallery LAB demonstrates the ways that Africa isn’t just about the continent. It’s incomplete without acknowledging our diasporic footprint. Speaking to ArtThrob last year, Kandan echoed this by saying, “The fair is about the best of Africa and making sure that there’s a space for Africa here at home. These types of innovative collectives belong here, because we want them to be.”
“South Africa can sometimes feel like its own country, outside of Africa. Although FNB Art Joburg is the longest-running fair on the continent, we still need to be active about connecting the dots. We need to make sure everyone feels welcome. It’s about bridging those gaps and creating a market for them here as well,” continued Kandan. Expanding this visual conversation, the 2023 exhibitors in the gallery LAB pavilion include 16/16, CHURCH, Ebony Curated, Galerie Annie Kadji, Guns & Rain, Modzi Arts, Ora Loapi, ODA Art, Reservoir Projects, Untitled, VILLAGE UNHU and Wunika Mukan Gallery. This week we take a look at the ethos propelling Ora Loapi, ODA Art, Reservoir Projects, Untitled, VILLAGE UNHU and Wunika Mukan Gallery.
Ora Loapi facilitates the global circulation of cutting-edge pedagogy, best practices and the latest research in the visual arts with clients including Bank of Botswana, Harvard University and more.
Director: Lerato Motshwarakgole
O’DA is a contemporary art gallery based in Lagos, Nigeria. Established in 2021, we specialise in the work of Contemporary Art & Design from across the African continent and its diaspora. Bridging the gap between local and international audiences, our gallery is committed to championing mid-career and established artists, whilst celebrating multi-faceted designers who explore a wide range of themes such as; identity, technology, political commentary, social consciousness and environmental change.
Director: Obida Obioha
RESERVOIR was founded in 2022 by Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe, as an independent partnership specialising in collaborative curation. In 2023, RESERVOIR Projects opened on Bree Street in Cape Town, a space for ambitious solo exhibitions by independent artists
Directors: Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe
Untitled creates different spaces for people to discover, explore, browse and buy art. Since our launch at the end of 2020, we’ve achieved that through a hybrid mix of events, including artists’ studio visits, content such as newsletters and social media, our digital platform, and participation at Art Fairs. We’re fortunate to work with some of the most outstanding new and established creative talent that our country has.
Directors: Lille van der Walt and Mia Louw
Gallery by artists for artists providing studio spaces, exhibition programs, workshops and residency programs to change the face of artists and art.
Directors: Misheck Masamvu and Georgina Maxim
Wunika Mukan Gallery
Wunika Mukan Gallery, formerly known as Pacers, is a contemporary art gallery located in Lagos, Nigeria. Established in 2020 by Wunika Mukan, the gallery is committed to promoting emerging artists from Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the diaspora. The primary objective of the gallery is to provide a platform for these artists to showcase their works to both local and international audiences, thereby creating exciting opportunities for them to exhibit and critically engage with the wider art market.
Director: Wunika Mukan