FNB Art Joburg
06-08.09.24
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

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BMW Young Collectors Co.

The BMW Art Generation

Kinetics of Art & History in review

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To usher in Open City’s 16+ days of culture, The BMW Art Generation returns after a successful debut. Centred around a conference of discourse and discursive essays within contemporary African art, this year the BMW Art Generation is set to take place on 31 August 2024 at the Nirox Sculpture Park. 

Established in 2006, Nirox Sculpture Park is a generative space for artists, curators, writers and cultural practitioners to make and share in community. Sitting on 30ha, the park hosts several residencies, workshops, long-term installations, open air live concert, as well as a permanent sculpture park. Extending its premise of making and sharing in community, it is primed to host The BMW Art Generation to continue our mandate of fortifying the future of contemporary African art through conversations that usually take place in the abstract of our continent. 

Adjacent to the discourse, the conference will be surrounded by a curated selection of exhibitions, performance art, live music performances, food, coffee and wine stalls as well as offerings from leaders in Africa’s design and fashion sectors.

Leading up to the second edition, we look back to the inauguration where contemporary African culture thrived over 6 talks, 3 exhibitions, 4 open studios, 2 monumental performances, ten retailers and twenty leading contemporary art practitioners. 

An Introduction 

In collaboration with BMW, FNB Art Joburg launched The BMW Art Generation in 2023. Taking place from 1 – 3 September 2023, BMW Art Generation was a weekend long event immersing the public and BMW Young Collectors members in the contemporary African culture scene. 

An initiative by FNB Art Joburg and BMW, the BMW Young Collectors Co. was established in 2020 with the intention of developing a new generation of art collectors that will collect and buy African art on African soil. By cultivating a fresh perspective on art patronage, the initiative has the power to create a new generation of collectors that will ensure the African art economy continues to grow for generations to come. 

Demonstrating the importance of cultural responsibility in luxury, BMW has been consistent with its investment in culture. A patron of the arts for more than 50 years, supporting art is one of BMW’s strategic pillars and why BMW South Africa has been working with FNB Art Joburg for the last three years.

Opening  the BMW Young Collectors Co. programme to the public, The BMW Art Generation’s first edition brought celebrated, established and young artists, curators and academics, from across the globe, together in conversation with collectors to imagine, celebrate and protect the future of contemporary African art. Taking place on African soil, the weekend asserted the continent’s role in shaping the world’s tomorrow. 

An all inclusive weekend, beyond the conference, The BMW Art Generation’s programming includes performance art, live music as well as a boutique market with stalls dedicated to demonstrating the very best in African food, coffee, wine, design and fashion.

The Synopsis

Located in central Johannesburg, Th BMW Art Generation’s first edition was hosted at The Centre for the Less Good Idea. A space conceptualised by William Kentridge to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing work, The Centre prioritises process as a resource. Extending this premise to The BMW Art Generation, the weekend explored the unforeseeable future of contemporary African art by allowing discourse and discovery through conversations that usually take place outside of our continent.

Looking to bring leading artists from Africa and the diaspora to dissect contemporary African
art within the realm of black intellectual tradition, the weekend presented multiple opportunities
to create a thought experiment that inserts an African narrative where art meets history and
place. Foregrounding an ethos that fosters a new generation in the contemporary African art
ecosystem, The BMW Art Generation began the work of ensuring the transference of knowledge from one generation to another.

An art & culture, weekend-long immersion – The BMW Art Generation, proudly supported by FNB brought celebrated and established artists, curators and academics into the same room as an emerging generation of future greats for a conference of global creative thought on African soil. Featuring field leaders, the weekend’s conversations will span themes including artistic practices relevant to our ecosystem, collection as cultural ownership, as well curation as a tool to recreate narratives.

Inclusive of a selection of curated open studios, performances, live music as well as a lifestyle market featuring food, coffee, wine, design and fashion stalls the weekend demonstrated Johannesburg’s reach as the continent’s cultural capital.

The Talks

An activation of the African archive, under the theme of The Kinetics of Art & History, The BMW Art Generation is a global conference of discourse and discursive essays. Through a series of six talks, linking celebrated and established contemporary art practitioners with their imminent successors, in the presence of their audience, The BMW Art Generation population was tasked with cultivating a forum to imagine, celebrate and protect contemporary African art on African soil. 

A Future in Focus 

In a dynamic exploration of the intersection between art and history, ‘A Future in Focus: Kinetics of Art & History’ brought together distinguished participants who enriched the discourse with their expertise and perspectives.

Yesterday’s road has led
To yesterday’s destination.
Today is a new chaos.
A new journey. A new city.
Needing new paths. And new standards.
— BEN OKRI, “THE RUIN AND THE FOREST,” WILD, 45

As attention turns increasingly towards the art of the African continent and its diaspora we reach a conundrum on how we add to the continuing debate about the destiny of Africa. The above epigraph taken from a poem included in the work Wild by the celebrated poet, novelist and artist Ben Okri is characteristic of the duality contained in his works between strife and hope and potential. Working through the prism of postcolonial and postmodernism Okri looks to the possibilities presented by the future informed by the adversity of the past.

In 1995 Denis Ekpo coined the theory Post-Africanism as an alternative to postcolonial thought. Ekpo defined Post-Africanism as an attempt “first to deconstruct the disaster-prone emotionalism, hubris and paranoias indwelling to most ideologies of Africanism whether in art, politics or development discourse and, second, to seek newer, fresher conditions for a more performative African intellectual engagement with Africa, modernity and the West.”(Ekpo 2010:182). In making this proposition Ekpo notes the failure of the post-colonial rhetoric of Africanism that informed modern African and post colonial discourse – read African identity, African nation, African rationality, African personality, African authenticity (Ekpo,1995:125) – that misconstrued itself in the conflict of Africa vs. the West.

He posits a future which rejects post-colonialism as well as the over emotional harkening on the past and focuses rather on Africa’s position in the (post) modern world in which we, “learn, copy or steal” from the west to hasten the growth of Africa.

In recent practice the re-imagining of black culture and identity has presented ideological ways forward; the landmark exhibition The Black Fantastic by curator Ekow Eshun conceptualised this concept as beginning from an understanding of “race as a socially constructed fiction rather than a scientific truth, albeit one that maintains a determining sway over popular perceptions of the world” going on to say “it also operates with a skepticism about Western narratives of progress and modernity, predicated as they are on the historical subjugation of people of color.”

More recently Lesley Loko notes in her positioning for the BIENNALE ARCHITETTURA 2023 “For the first time ever, the spotlight has fallen on Africa and the African Diaspora, that fluid and enmeshed culture of people of African descent that now straddles the globe. What do we wish to say? How will what we say change anything? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how will what we say interact with and infuse what ‘others’ say…”

In discussing our way forward we question what the future of Africa in the 21st century holds for cultural practitioners. Considering the opposing views taken by Okri and Ekpo above together with the position taken by Ekow we question; How do these shifts in discourse colour the future for the practices and ambitions of artists, curators and collectors of cultural history?

Panelists: Ayava V Jackson – Thuthuka Sibisi – Lebohang Kganye – Dr. Joy Simmons – Unathi Mkhonto – Banele Khoza – Azu Nwagbogu – Banele Khoza – Chika Okeke-Agulu

Dialogue architect: Thato Mokgosi

Positioning statement: Chika Okeke-Agulu

The Conversation 

The Conversation: Hans Ulrich Obrist and William Kentridge

Building on The Interview project as an ongoing collection of conversations between renown curator and seminal practitioners in the cultural and art world, we invite a conversation between Hans Ulrich Obrist and William Kentridge that contributes to this project and inserts the contribution of a leading South African artists into the cannon of global art history.

William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa, 1955) is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions. His method combines drawing, writing, film, performance, music, theatre, and collaborative practices to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature and history, yet maintaining a space for contradiction and uncertainty.

Panelists: Hans Ulrich Obrist & William Kentridge 

Positioning statement: Hans Ulrich Obrist 

Collection Culture 

Reflecting on a Transformative Discussion: Collection Culture at The BMW Art Generation.

Rejecting eurocentric and patriarchal patterns and practices around art purchasing, patronage and preservation, black women like Dr Joy Simmons, Pulane Kingston and Maruping Mangwedi apply instincts that serve the personal more than they do an external political agenda.

Speaking to Financial Times about the premise of her art collecting practice, Los Angeles-based art collector and radiologist, Dr. Joy Simmons explains how her sensibilities were first developed in a domestic setting. “When I was in college, I visited my aunt’s home in New York. She had sculptures by Melvin Edwards, paintings by Howardena Pindell and Jack Whitten: the heavy hitters. It was eye-opening for me to see works by black people that reflected my reality; at that point I started to think about how such works could have an impact on my own space.” More than four decades later, Simmons has built a sizable collection of work by black artists including Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Mark Bradford and Mickalene Thomas. Collecting to build legacies, not trophies.

The executive chairperson of Mirai Rail Corporation, Pulane Kingston is a dedicated collector of the work of African artists and an advisory board member at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Demonstrative of her passion Kingston, in the early years of her collecting journey Kingston undertook an Art Degree to better understand and strategise her collecting practice.

A BMW Young Collectors Co. member and collector, Maruping Mangwedi is a private equity investor and a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. She joined The BMW Young Collectors Co. programme to serve her interest in accelerating her momentum around the acquisition of art in a manner that is intentional and informed.

A black, femme-led and cross-generational conversation between established and imminent collectors, this discussion around Collection Culture provides a look into the practice of collecting as patronage within the current context of representative politics and value equalisation. Beyond financial gain and with a keen focus on creating collection that represent not only the current but future of contemporary African art we will explore how private collections and patronage build for the future.

Panelists: Dr. Joy Simmons – Pulane Kingston – Maruping Manwedi

Dialogue architect: Ngaire Blankenberg

Positioning statement: Dr. Joy Simmons 

The Unerasable Archive

The Unerasable Archive featuring Thuthuka Sibisi, Lebohang Kganye, Ayana V Jackson and Nolan Oswald Dennis.

Consider history as everything, all at once at the same time. Whether recent or forgone, past archival practices used to record histories have presented them as singular, life altering events that erased integral black, femme, queer and atypical contributors. Addressing the gaps as a means of regenerating hope while decentralising Western narratives as holistic absolute truths; one of the most urgent and recent functions of contemporary African and diasporic art has been flooding the archive.

A recognition of the cross-generational, multidisciplinary and continent wide edit employing speculative fiction, fluid temporalities, ethereal sources and indigenous mythology, The unerasable archive speaks back to the past while addressing our present and informing our futures. Embodied within practice this framework’s understanding of the archive does not begin and end with safekept documents or codified histories but embraces the fluidity of African tradition to seep into classrooms, constitutions, galleries, social media, Web 3.0 and algorithms.

Panelists: Thuthuka Sibisi – Lebohang Kganye – Ayana V Jackson – Nolan Oswald Dennis

Dialogue architect: Azu Nwagbogu

Patronage and Practice 

Patronage and Practice featuring Dr. Thomas Girst, Ashraf Johaardien and Billie Zangewa.

A curator and published academic, Dr. Thomas Girst has spent the last two decades championing patronage as the BMW Group’s Global Head of Cultural Engagement. Demonstrating a luxury charged with cultural responsibility, BMW is consistent with its investment.

In an industry where market trends can influence an artist’s navigation, the potential to make and distribute work for the sake of having an income is high. A means to avoid compromise and honour the work, patronage protects practice.

With brands increasingly turning to artists as collaborators we explore the idea of corporate patronage as a means to connect brands to people and foster relevance: an indication of arts enduring position within contemporary culture.

Panelists: Billie Zangewa – Dr. Thomas Girst 

Dialogue architect: Ashraf Johaardien 

Positioning statement: Dr. Thomas Girst 

The Elusive Metropolis/ Johannesburg

The audience during The Elusive Metropolis/ Johannesburg panel discussion.

Cameroonian historian and political theorist Achille Mbembe and South African Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies Sarah Nuttall’s book Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis (2008) is described as “a pioneering effort to insert South Africa’s largest city into urban theory, on its own terms. The authors write: Johannesburg is Africa’s premier metropolis. Yet theories of urbanization have cast it as an emblem of irresolvable crisis, the spatial embodiment of unequal economic relations and segregationist policies, and a city that responds to but does not contribute to modernity on the global scale.

Drawing on themes from Mbembe and Nuttall’s essays interrogating life in Africa’s economic and cultural hub, Afropolis examines the dialogue created between the city and its people. Those creating art, those making and eking out a living and those passing through it.

Johannesburg is a metropolis in which its people are in a constant state of flux; between balancing a sense of allure against that of strife. For artists, the city is often materially linked to their practice, making materiality an intersectional component to production. Materials, subject, and space are used to make sense of identity and place-making within the sprawling city.

For the curators, these works seek to address and reconcile life in the city by challenging the reactionary prose attributed to it by Mbembe and Nuttall.

Ideas of migration and convergence are explored through tactile forms, the landscape and the people who occupy it is seen in both paintings and photography with performance enlivening realities. Positioned as a portrait of Johannesburg, this is a prompt to engage life, feelings and reality in The Elusive Metropolis.

PANELISTS: Dr. Sechaba Maape & Unathi Mkhonto 

DIALOGUE ARCHITECT: Greer Valley

The exhibitions

Dipina tsa Kganya by Lebohang Kganye

Lebohang Kganye leads a walkabout through Dipina tsa Kganya.

Dipina tsa Kganya (2021) is a black and white three-channel video installation work by South African artist, Lebohang Kganye. It features two performances informed by a notion of healing, enacted through acts of naming and cleansing. The word dipina means ‘songs’ in the artist’s mother language of seSotho. The song referred to is that of her family clan names, traditionally passed down through oral tradition. Additionally, the Sotho word for ‘light’: kganya – is in the etymology of the artist’s last name: Kganye. A central visual component is the lighthouse featured in the middle channel of the video work.

A light beam, in perpetual motion, casts light onto the surrounding ocean scene and in turn creates shadows in the two peripheral channels of the work. In the first or left video channel, a lighthouse keeper appears as a custodian of this light, tending to it by continually cleaning the bulb – a light source that symbolically guides those lost at sea. The song featured in the work (composed by musician Thandi Ntuli) plays from a large, custom-built Polyphon music box, which is hand-cranked in the third or right video channel. These performative gestures are in conversation with the southern African practice of the ‘praise-singing’ of clan names as a way of passing down the origins of the family story as an act of resistance to historical erasure, to insure its unwritten continuity.

House of Bondage, a solo exhibition of never before-seen works by Ernest Cole

Attendants walks through the exhibition of never before seen Ernest Cole works.

House of Bondage, Cole’s unflinching and comprehensive indictment of apartheid, was published in 1967 in the US and then in the UK. When it first appeared, the photobook was banned in South Africa but some of its images found their way back into the country through resistance publications.

The book is widely available again, with a new edition on the market. It returns Cole’s profound visual essay to the public eye and draws attention to his incisive critique of the violence of everyday life under apartheid.

After leaving South Africa, Cole continued to work as a photographer in the US and spent time in Sweden. By the 1980s, “House of Bondage” was out of print. The whereabouts of the photographs he produced in the US in the 1960s and 1970s – some commissioned by the Ford Foundation and the United States Information Agency – remained unknown. Then, in 2017, at least part of his archive was located in Sweden and returned to Cole’s family.

The resurfacing of more than 60 000 negatives and other documents, including notebooks, has led to the publication of the new edition of Cole’s landmark book by the Aperture Foundation.

New Ponte City Lightbox: Interior Windows by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse

New Ponte City Lightbox: Interior Windows by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse

Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse’s Ponte City exhibition and archive was acquired in full by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2018, and will be displayed there in 2020/21. To mark the exhibition Steidl will publish a revised second edition of the Ponte City book; the first edition being long out of print.

In revisiting the project for the new book, Subotzky and Waterhouse were reminded of a fourth typology they shot in addition to the iconic Doors, Windows and Televisions lightboxes (which are in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in addition to significant private collections). These three lightboxes were first exhibited in 2010. At that time, the artists gave up on finishing the assembly of the fourth one as it was far more complex, with multiple camera angles shot for every row of windows. In anticipation of the SFMOMA exhibition and the new edition of the book, they finished this massive task during the course of 2019 and 2020.

This newly completed fourth lightbox consists of 1,392 photographs taken of the interior passage windows that surround Ponte City’s hollow core. Taken largely at night, this view inward becomes a psychological counterpart to the photographs of the televisions and the exterior windows. The artists took several shots across the core at each level, pointing straight across but also up and down, to capture the sightlines and perceptual vertigo of the building’s core. Many of the photographs are blurred due to the fact that they had to be shot across the core through the corridor windows themselves, which were often fastened closed and dirtied by the ongoing renovations. This atmospheric rendering is punctuated with flashes of colour and details of people going about their everyday lives — a man speaks on his cell phone; a mother returns home with one child on her back and another in tow; a cat leaps from one window ledge to the next.

The performances 

The Land We Carry by Gregory Maqoma

HOW | Showing the Making: William Kentridge on The Great YES, the Great NO

The Land We Carry by Gregory Maqoma

The Open Studios

Guests visit the Danger Gevaar Ingozi Studio

David Krut Printworkshop
Mary Sibande
Danger Gevaar Ingozi Studio
Mikhael Subotzky

The Lifestyle Market

Inside The BMW Art Generation lifestyle market.

The BMW Art Generation’s first edition hosted ten vendors spanning the best in literature, food, wine and design from the following retailers:

Food + Wine
Krone – Jack Rabbit -Lucky Bread – Food Goddess – Waterford Estate- Beijing Opera Pantry
Acid Food & Wine Bar

Literature
iwalewa Books – Jonathan Ball Publishers

African designers presented by Merchants on Long
Kente Gentlemen – Laurence Airline – Imane Ayissi – Fuata Moyo – Nkwo – Okapi- Viviers

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Misheck Masamvu. Gorgeous George, 2022.
Oil on canvas. 200 x 176 x 5 cm. (Courtesy of Goodman Gallery)

Friday, 8th September

Collection tour of Anglo American

Location
144 Oxford Rd, Rosebank

Date
8 September 2023
11am

Event details

The Anglo American art and object collection is a combination of art collected over several decades through four different companies: Anglo American, de Beers Group, Anglo American Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore.

The collection comprises of 3600 works, with around 1000 pieces in the collection on display at the newly commissioned Rosebank offices. Although vast, the collection experienced an acquisition hiatus from the early 2000s until 2021 creating a significant gap in the collection’s representation of contemporary art. The collection now has a dedicated curator, Megan Scott, tasked with its cataloguing and digitisation, opening an exciting new chapter which will see the gradual procurement of significant works that reflect our contemporary South African and African art world.

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