Traditionally, African art has poured out of the continent to museums elsewhere in the world—often under dodgy circumstances. But the tipping point is here: Cape Town’s Zeitz MoCAA Pavilion. It’s the temporary home of a collection destined for Africa’s first contemporary art museum, the splashy nine-story Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, opening February 2017. The building is being carved out of a former grain silo by Thomas Heatherwick, the architect behind Google’s new futuristic Silicon Valley headquarters, and will be loaded with the continent’s edgiest works, including those of Swaziland’s Nandipha Mntambo. “She salts cowhide, drapes it over a woman’s body, and dries it so the shape is preserved,” explains director and chief curator Mark Coetzee. “The female body has been such a contested place, and her art evokes these questions of women’s roles in society.”
What to expect at the Zeitz MOCAA when it opens next year:
The Moving Images Institute
Though tourists may be familiar with videos and moving images as art, many on the African continent haven’t had access to museums that display it. Even more rare? An African artist who specializes in it. Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai has gained international fame for his video work State of the Nation, an exploration of the notion of “state.” The video is currently on display at the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion until it moves to the Moving Images Institute in 2017.
The Traveling Collection
Two floors of the Zeitz MOCAA will house traveling exhibits from all over the world, with the goal of bringing African easy public access to international art.
The Costume Institute
In Africa, fashion is not just fashion—it’s living art. Body modifications, body decoration, and ceremonial garb from all over the continent will be displayed in this space.
The Center for Photography
Museums love collecting and archiving old photos. That’s important, but who’s collecting the now? The Zeitz has a mission to preserve and archive contemporary photos from around the continent, so the present Africa is remembered on film as well.
This appeared in the October, 2015 issue.