City Life Org – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art presents its NMAFA+ series in South Africa

A 10-day art experience will focus on race in the creative community

Against the backdrop of the FNB Joburg Art Fair and in the run-up to the 10th Basha Uhuru Festival, the National Museum of African Art will host a 10-day series of art experiences titled ‘The Demonstration’ at Constitution Hill 15-24 September. The “demonstration,” part of the museum’s NMAFA+ series, will include an exhibition, public talks and artist-led tours of the city.

Curated by Johannesburg-based artist Siva Mgoboza, “The Demonstration” experiences will focus on the theme of “Our Shared Future: Recounting Our Racial Past,” which aligns with the Smithsonian’s initiative to address systemic racism and racial inequality in the U.S. and worldwide.

Starting on 15 September, members of the public are invited to an exhibition designed to support and expand South African artists whose work crosses boundaries and provokes important conversations. Featured artists include Blessing Ngobeni, Patrick Bongoi, Luke Radolph, Nelisiwe Shaba and Moke Jansen van Veuren and Ayana V. Jackson.

Experiences will also include:

  • “African Artists Host…”—Public conversations about race and migration, incarceration, media and representation, identity, resistance and demonstration
  • Curated tours of exhibitions
  • Johannesburg through the eyes of artists – Haroon Gunn-Sally, Senzeni Maresala and Jodi Pater

“We believe in art as an important catalyst for conversation and for reimagining change,” said Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art, herself a South African. “Siwa Mgoboza has brought together some remarkable artists to challenge us to confront the issues of racism that are so persistent and pervasive in both American and South African society. At NMAfA, we are reimagining the museum to help create sustainable, regenerative art ecosystems across Africa, and the NMAfA+ experiences are just the first step in this experimentation.”

As a preview of the experience, the National Museum of African Art has partnered with the Moleskine Foundation for an intensive, five-day “AtWork” workshop for young people on creative leadership and personal development. Led by renowned curator Simon Nyami, the workshop brought together a mix of creative young people to come to terms with themselves, what drives them and their personal stories.

“Our mission is to unlock the creative potential of young people around the world to transform themselves and the communities around them,” said Adama Sane, CEO and co-founder of the Moleskine Foundation. “We are thrilled to be working with NMAfA and Constitution Hill, with whom we share the same vision of creativity for social change. Our signature AtWork education format, hosted for the first time in Johannesburg, has helped ignite new critical debates and conversations with this vibrant, young creative scene.”

It is especially poignant that the experience will take place on Constitution Hill, an iconic site for heritage, art and justice. It is a space that uses the legacy of the past to inspire the future through its Creative Hub and year-round programs on social justice, human rights and constitutional education.

“Constitution Hill is built on the key pillars of art and justice,” said Constitution Hill Executive Director Dawn Robertson. “This Smithsonian initiative for social change is fully aligned with our efforts at Constitution Hill to inspire positive social change and build a more just future for all. This gives us the opportunity to facilitate discussions around the complexities of racial and social justice, while elevating and empowering the voices of young people through the public programs we will facilitate, aligned with the exhibitions and workshops.”

For the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

The Smithsonian is a diverse museum and research complex in Washington, DC, dedicated to increasing and disseminating knowledge. The National Museum of African Art is part of the Smithsonian with a mission to be the global museum of African art of the 21st century. The museum’s collection of mostly visual arts spans the entire continent from the 10th century to the present day. As part of an ongoing and radical overhaul, the museum now also provides dynamic and collaborative art experiences in locations across the continent and in global African spaces to nurture regenerative art ecosystems.

NMAFA+ is a series of experiential art experiences across the African diaspora produced by the National Museum of African Art. These “pop-up” art events allow African audiences to “visit the Smithsonian” while promoting cross-cultural engagement, creativity, coalition building, and scholarship.

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is a living museum and heritage site that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fortification that bears witness to South Africa’s turbulent past and today is home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which upholds the rights of all citizens and hosts a permanent collection of curated artworks of more than 400 works that report on topics of justice, human rights and reconciliation. Featuring four museums, pop-up exhibitions, public events and rapid response programs, the museum is also home to the Creative Uprising Hub and South Africa’s only human rights festival.

Moleskine Foundation

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire a new generation of creative thinkers and doers capable of effecting change in their communities and beyond. Some of the foundation’s key strengths include its original approach, lean organizational structure, established brand, and its mission of creativity for social change. The foundation has completed 20 chapters of its AtWork program, starting in Dakar and including in Abidjan, Kampala, Cairo, Addis Ababa, New York, London and Maputo.

FNB Art Joburg and Open City

Johannesburg is the cultural and economic capital of Africa and FNB Art Joburg is its flagship art fair. Art Joburg believes there is no better place than Johannesburg to showcase all its best artists under one roof. Because artists are best served by strong galleries – with long-term representation, physical exhibition spaces and free admission to the public – Art Joburg is run for galleries with galleries and is committed to further building the region’s gallery infrastructure. As Africa’s longest-running contemporary art fair held in the continent’s cultural capital, Art Joburg is committed to sustaining and developing the continent’s cultural offering in ways that go beyond the traditional art fair. When the world was struck by a pandemic and Art Joburg could not host a physical fair, it found a way to serve the arts by activating the city and its creative economy through the inaugural Open City held in October 2021. In its quest to stimulate economic and inclusion in the creative arts, Open City seeks to enable independent as well as emerging cultural practitioners working in art, music, performance, film, food and fashion to reach a wider audience of culture consumers .

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