By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
When Covid-19 hit in 2020, almost every sector of the economy was affected, including the creative sector that saw such events as music festivals, art auctions and galleries either close temporarily or go online.
One such gallery that has been closed ever since is the Standard Bank Gallery in central Johannesburg, an important institution on the South Africa’s creative map. Being forced to close meant that opportunities for artists there were closed and audiences were left dry as they could not attend the interesting exhibitions that have been taking place there almost every six weeks. Many will remember those exhibitions opening that always were filled with energy and excitement.
However art lovers and artists will be happy to know that their favourite gallery space is not only reopening, but it will do so with a bang, with a multi-disciplinary exhibition featuring performances and art works.
The exhibition marks the start of an enthusiastic re-opening of the gallery after a 2-yearclosure, reaffirming Standard Bank’s longstanding commitment to supporting arts.
“The Standard Bank Gallery is proud to present the work of 13 dynamic young artists in a ground-breaking exhibition: WE ARE
CULTURE. This kicks off the next chapter of Standard Bank’s arts calendar as the Standard Bank Gallery’s first in-person exhibition since the lifting of COVID- 19 restrictions, it is the gallery’s first ever multidisciplinary experience, featuring a select but comprehensive slate of exciting work from a new wave of young voices in fashion, music, sculpture, performance artand more.
In line with Standard Bank’s democratising approach to arts development (termed #ArtsSiphakathiInside). WE ARE CULTURE is curated by Creative Director, Stylist and Editor
Bee Diamondhead. Bee was an unquestionable choice of curator. Along with her selection of 13 electric talents, Bee is changing the way the world interacts with African creatives and their work. She shares Standard Bank’s future-focused view that access to all mediums of art and creativity should be barrierless, both for the interested who want to experience it, and the enterprising and talented who want to create it,” the gallery says in its media statement..
“WE ARE CULTURE is not about tradition. It's not about the gatekeepers, or the highbrow discourse. This show is about the artists, whose visions are so clear that giving them the=resources and the platform helps us more than it them,” Bee Diamondhead says. “We are in uncertain times, and it is our role to seek out these voices – voices that illuminate things we haven't fully realised about the world around us. Creativity fights the rigid ways of thinking that we adopt as a mechanism of survival.”
The clear, raw, fresh vision of the show’s selected artists — from headline-making fashion designer Fikile Sokhulu, to DJ, journalist and queer youth culture champion Lelo Meslani —creates a layered-yet-light-hearted experience. While the exhibition platforms the cultural interrogation of identity present in the work of many young artists today, it also highlights the insight, awareness and self-acceptance that these interrogations have already yielded.
Gallery visitors should expect an essential portrayal of themselves from a new, joyful perspective, one that acknowledges where we are and points to where we are headed.
“Standard Bank is responsive to the evolution of the arts and continues to show its commitment to the arts, by continuing to be a platform of showcase for new artists.
By offering support that has adapted to the landscape, vision and challenges of a new generation of creative talent. South Africa is home to an incredible, dynamic community of visual artists, fashion designers and contemporary musicians — talents who are, together, marking the creative world with their uniquely African sensibility. We are using this global cultural moment to tell our stories in real time, in whole truth, and in vibrant spirit, says Dr Same Mdluli Standard Bank Gallery manager.
Standard Bank spent more than 30 years enabling the work of young, driven South African artists through it’s platforms, support, and development resources. This Heritage month, the bank invites the public to discover a progressive display of this initiative in an exhibition that epitomises it’s brand promise: “finding new ways to make dreams possible.
Curator: Bee Diamondhead
Featured Artists: Kgotlelelo Sekiti (Performance Art) / Lelo Meslani (Music) / Leon John (Music) / Muyeni (Music) / Natalie Paneng (Multidisciplinary Artist) / Philisa Zibi (Jewellery
Design) / Setlamorago Mashilo (Sculpture) / Khumo Morojele (Fashion Designer) / Fikile Sokhulu (Fashion Designer) / Lorraine Kalassa (Visual Artist) / Muofhe Manavhela
(Multidisciplinary Artist) / Rebecca Moolman (Artist) / Wezile Harmans (Artist)
Dates: 19 September – 08 October 2022; 08:00 -16:30 on weekdays, and 08:00 – 16:00 on weekends. Entrance to the gallery is free.
Location: Standard Bank Gallery, Cnr Simmonds & Frederick, JHB Central.
About Bee Diamondhead
Bee Diamondhead is a Creative Director, Stylist & Editor based in Johannesburg. Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Bee began her career as a fashion assistant in South Africa and then the UK after earning qualifications in creative brand communications (art direction), fashion styling and marketing. 18 years in, she is a distinct creative leader with an unparalleled body of era-defining work as a stylist, creative strategist, fashion editor and brand consultant for some of the world’s biggest and best. A large focus of hers is using her work to elevate and develop new talent. Bee champions them in every room she enters and kicks down locked doors to centre their perspectives and amplify their voices in creative industry spaces.