This year fair attendance and art purchases will happen on the virtual world
By Edward Tsumele
Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, South Africa’s art fair aimed at especially first time collectors and the seasoned collector wanting to boost their collection, has this year attracted 60 galleries.
And for the first time this year, the RMB Turbine art fair will be attended by visitors virtually, and also for the first time this year, it has attracted the country’s premium gallery, Goodman Gallery. Goodman gallery joins 59 other galleries from South Africa as well as from the southern African region, including a gallery from Botswana, which will be offering an exciting array of art objects for sale.
The fair promises to be a collector’s paradise despite the advent of the coronavirus that has seen some big events cancelled such as 1:54 in New York, while others have gone the virtual way and the response by collectors in some cases has been impressive. This means that the art market has accepted the reality of our time, the ‘new normal’, by embracing the use of new technologies to shop for art on the virtual world.
An upbeat Glynis Hyslop, founder of RMB Turbine Art Fair, told a media conference held virtually yesterday that she was excited that Goodman gallery had come on board. “I grew up loving the good work that Goodman Gallery has exhibited over the years,” she said.
And this year, just like the previous years at the RMB Turbine Art Fair, , the prices of art are capped at R50 000 maximum, and this means that during these hard times, those with extra cash can still afford to get quality work at the art fair at a Covid-19 sensitive price. This should be welcomed by collectors whose pockets and savings have been affected by the pandemic as economic activity in several countries came to a standstill. South Africa is still in lockdown, with level 2 risk adjusted lockdown only coming into effect this week, allowing economic activities to take place in almost all industries. This comes after five months of lockdown, affecting several industries.
A highlight of RMB Turbine Art Fair (RMB TAF) each year is the series of special projects on show. This year will be no different with an exciting mix of talent and experiences that will be available for viewing from the August 28 until September 2, 2020. These special projects will form part of the overall Fair experience with over 50 galleries showing work within their own viewing rooms on the RMB Turbine Art Fair online platform.
“Each year we are delighted to bring the art-loving public a host of specially curated projects from across South Africa under various banners and themes. These special projects allow guest curators to source unique and exciting work,” says Hyslop.
A new addition to the fair, LookingForwardpresents digital and new media art. The exhibition will showcase one of the best interactions between art and virtual technology, allowing audiences to experience the beauty in both. This collaborative project is built to engage a lot more than your eyes. It’s a real example of what happens when visionaries meet.
Looking Back explores the uncanny relationship between the similar, yet very separate, lives of two of South Africa’s foremost artists, Gladys Mgudlandlu and Maggie Laubser in a special Strauss & Co exhibition titledParallel Visions. The show focuses on the visionary nature of their work, and the lives they led in parallel to each other in the segregated South African society of the time.
The phenomenal legacy of these two artists is indisputable: Laubser’s work has been the subject of many academic studies and boasts the only comprehensive catalogue raisonné that has been published on the work of a South African artist. Mgudlandlu’s work is especially important as she was the pioneer black female artist in the mainstream art world, and she serves as continuous creative inspiration for others. (https://turbineartfair.artfundi.com/exhibitors/gladys-mgudlandlu-and-maggie-laubser-visionary-artists-parallel-lives-presented-by-strauss-art)
RMB Talent Unlocked, now in its 6th year, is an artist mentorship programme accompanied by an exhibition at the RMB Turbine Art Fair. This year’s programme consists of professional practice workshops and a mentorship programme run by independent art advisor and curator Londi Modiko. Work from Lebohang Mabusela, Zanele Mashini, Katlego Modiri, Manyatsa Monyamane, Octavia Roodt, Vanessa Tembane, Noah Onah and Rick Baloyi will be showcased.
(https://turbineartfair.artfundi.com/exhibitors/rmb-talent-unlocked) Says RMB Chief Marketing Officer Alison Badenhorst: “Through RMB Talent Unlocked, an artist career development programme, now in partnership with the Visual Arts Network of South Africa. Apart from artist development, our support is aimed at audience growth and artist exposure – two key elements of the creative economy. Now in its 6th year, RMB Talent Unlocked ensures a gratifying experience for art enthusiasts and young, emerging talent.”
First Look will highlight selected works from postgraduate university students in Fine and Visual Art across South Africa. (https://turbineartfair.artfundi.com/projects/first-look-graduate-exhibition-a-visual-showcase-of-upcoming-graduate-student-exhibition-highlights)
New World Order, curated by Johan Thom will showcase a variety of aesthetic strategies implicit in the artistic practice of a new generation of educator-artists. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the world itself seems to be on the brink of global change. Though much of the focus has been on the economic, social and political changes that await us all once the dust settles, the question of what role art will play – and how, also requires careful consideration by artists. Johan’s curatorial perspective will focus on artist-educators who will guide the new generation of artists that will live and practice in a post-Covid world. (https://turbineartfair.artfundi.com/projects/new-world-order)
Tactile Visions-Woven, curated by Prof Sharlene Khan – another new addition to the fair – presents a curated selection of tactile-based works in an expanded conversation with the notion of ‘materiality’ and ‘tactility’. Contemporary artists engage these in performance, installation, photography, painting, dance, printmaking and sculpture, as they respond to the precarious conditions of the world in which they find themselves – as individuals and as members of society. The exhibition also aims to show, through the porosity of the categories of ‘fine arts’/ ‘crafts’/ ‘women’s art’/ ‘popular culture’ that these are not – and simply never were – tenable in the fluidity that are our African lives. (https://turbineartfair.artfundi.com/projects/tactile-visions-woven)
Stilled Life – a community photographic platform was launched to give South Africans a place to share their Covid-19 stories. A place where anyone could send in his or her photos – not just professionals. People with both a view and a captured moment of what they were seeing and feeling during this abnormal time in their lives. Participants were given the following 3 categories in which to enter their photographs and story:
#YourStory – view/personal experience of Life in the Times of Covid
#New Normal – Sometimes we surprise ourselves on the human race’s ability to adapt, adjust and accommodate.
#Helping Hands – Times like this are challenging and bring out the best and the worst in us. However the stories of generosity of spirit and deep humanity are completely inspiring.
The top 100 images will be selected by a panel of judges that includes Savannah Feeke, Musa Nxumalo and Greg Marinovich. The images will be auctioned by Strauss&Coin their September online auction with all proceeds to going to the BASAArtistsReliefFund. The Top 100 images will be on view throughout the duration of RMB Turbine Art Fair.
The online viewing rooms for all special projects and galleries will officially open to the public on the 28th August from 9h00. An extensive free TalksandWalkabout programme sponsored by RMBPrivateBank will be available for the public to attend online by registration and will run for the duration of the fair.