MOCAAMen of Color Against AIDS
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Beyond the walls of the Zeitz MOCAA, there's plenty more to explore of Cape Town's art scene, from high-end to street art.
When Edson Chagas won the Golden Lion at the 2013 Venice Biennale for his installation of photographs of Luanda at the Angola Pavilion, Zeitz MOCAA's acquisition committee bought the entire show with a view to 'securing that seminal moment for an African institution'.
It is clear, therefore, that Zeitz MOCAA is most preoccupied with embodying a diasporic African Esperanto or a cultural ethos which splices the local and the global.
Situated inside a converted grain silo--built in 1921 and redesigned by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick--Zeitz MOCAA also operates as a bridge between the past and the future; between an early industrial, steampunk aesthetic and the clinical late modern austerity one associates with the white cube.
What distinguishes Zeitz MOCAA as an idea and an ethos is a worldliness that places Africa at its epicentre.
Zeitz MOCAA is, in effect, a subjunctive enterprise --it wills a different and more enabling future in which Africa, finally, assumes its pivotal place within the global art world.
As Matthias Leridon, who runs AAD, the African Artists for Development foundation, notes: As the biggest institution on contemporary art in Africa, Zeitz MOCAA will effectively become the flag for African art and with this comes great responsibility and challenges.' Such an initiative requires a high level of curation, for 'the museum can play a huge role in the perception of the continent by leap-frogging cliched perceptions of Africa.
While the opening of the Zeitz MOCAA has captured the world's attention this year, Cape Town has been emerging as an art and design hub for the better part of two decades.
Leading early visitors on a hard-hat tour of Zeitz MOCAA in the spring, Coetzee explained that its mission is"cutting-edge contemporary, so the work is all made after 2000." He added that the focus was large-scale and in-depth:"The one rule we made was to buy bodies of work.
Evidence of Zeitz MOCAA's ability to attract visitors from other continents is already apparent, with travel agents in the Cape noting significantly higher bookings for 2017--especially from the US--which a number attribute directly to the new museum.
Zeitz MOCAA sits at the centre of all this, creating an unprecedented energy for change and expansion, its focus looking well beyond South Africa to the continent's other leading Contemporary art centres.
The timing could hardly be better for Zeitz MOCAA. All the same, there will be challenges ahead: the decision to prosecute the country's Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, for fraud, led to a further decline in the already weak rand in October, and has undoubtedly undermined confidence.