In our first Q&A of 2020 we chat to Tumelo Mosaka, previously the lead curator of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair and now the curator of the Talks Programme and the Cultural Platform as part of the 2020 edition. Here he reflects on previous editions of Invest Cape Town Art Fair and shares some insight into what visitors can expect at this year’s much anticipated Talks Programme.
1. You’ve been involved in the Investec Cape Town Art Fair for four years, in different curatorial capacities. How has the fair changed during this time?
Each year more galleries have participated and more collectors are coming to Cape Town. Local cultural institutions have adopted the month of February as the visual arts month transforming Cape Town into a cultural hub. Furthermore, the galleries are taking greater risks and showing challenging works offering visitors not only something aesthetic to view but also to think about. The fair has definitely strengthened its presents not only in South Africa but also abroad, we have a lot of high-end galleries interested in presenting their artists locally.
2. What have been some of the things that have surprised you during your tenure?
I've been surprised by the growing international attention, but again this may have to do with the attention Africa is now receiving. The energy around the fair is also amazing because the art events spill out into the city. The number of art related activities that have emerged around the art fair is outstanding and only proves how the arts ecosystem is so interrelated.
3. This year you're curating the much anticipated Talks Programme, can you explain the significance of this platform to the fair and fair goers as well as what fair goers expect can from 2020 programme?
The Talks program is very special for me as it is the space where dialogue about issues important in the art world can be engaged by various experts from within and outside the country. It offers an opportunity to introduce the public to some of the issues while also reflecting on others that might have been topical. I've always approached the talks as a discursive platform aimed at broader dialogue about the state the arts field. For this year, we will explore arts philanthropy in Africa especially in light of all the new museums cropping up in Africa. Also the question of the role of museums has become a topical issues given issues around reparation and repatriation. Of course hearing from artists is always a treat, getting a glimpse into artists process as well as exploring the challenges of non-profit sector. So we have a lot to discuss that is important.
4. What have been some of your personal highlights in your tenure as chief curator of Investec Cape Town Art Fair over the last few years?
It is always difficult for me to isolate one experience over the whole. My experience has always been to reflect on the whole. I've enjoyed curating Tomorrows Today section, partly because I had the opportunity to work with individual artists and their galleries. The talks too have been very dynamic and have introduced me to many interesting people. I've also enjoyed introducing performance in unexpected locations at the fair. Each year has been very particular in bringing something new to the experience of fairs.
5. How would you describe this moment in time with regards to contemporary art from Africa and the world?
It is true that Africa is witnessing a moment in the arts, but I feel it's still yet to be fully realized. Many more African artists are showing abroad, new museums are cropping up on the continent and more Africans are collecting; all this is great news for the field. However, very little seems to be happening on the educational front, nor are the prices overall reflective of the amount of attention. I also think that there is a danger to only want to see artists from Africa through the African lens when in reality they are engaged in a global conversation about humanity.
Please click here to see the full Talks Programme for Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020.