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The U.S. institution has arranged art experiences as part of its effort to address systemic racism and racial inequity around the globe.

FNB Art Joburg, Africa’s Oldest Art Fair, Partners with the Smithsonian

Bee Diamondhead, Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, in front of a painting by Adolf Tega at the Gallery MOMO booth during FNB Art Joburg 2019. Courtesy FNB Art Joburg. Photo: Karabo Mooki.

South African art fair FNB Art Joburg will return to the Sandton Convention Centre from 2 to 4 September, its first in-person presentation since 2019.

Making up for lost time, the event has a packed schedule of events including the Open City programme, which features 15 days of events around Johannesburg beginning on 25 August.

As part of Open City, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) will host a series of events called The Demonstration at Constitution Hill.

Curated by Johannesburg-based artist Siwa Mgoboza, events include a workshop on creative leadership by artistic director of Dak'Art 2018 Simon Njami, tours of Johannesburg led by the city's artists, and artist talks on race and migration, incarceration, representation, migration, and resistance.

A performance by Wezile Mgibe during FNB Art Joburg 2019. Photo: Karabo Mooki.

A performance by Wezile Mgibe during FNB Art Joburg 2019. Photo: Karabo Mooki. Courtesy FNB Art Joburg.

'We believe in art as an important catalyst for conversation and to reimagine change,' said Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art.

'Siwa Mgoboza has brought together some remarkable artists to challenge us to confront issues of racism that are so persistent and pervasive in both American and South African societies,' she said.

Artists participating in The Demonstration include Nobukho Nqaba, Sihile Masongo, Patrick Bongoy, Nelisiwe Xaba, and Ayana V. Jackson.

Other Open City events include group show The Elusive Afropolis: Vol II; a walking tour of the city's graffiti, a solo show by portrait artist Zandile Tshabalala, a video by Natalie Paneng inspired by contemporary clown theatre, and works shared via performance and video art platform InfluenZArt.

The galleries presenting in the main section of FNB Art Joburg this year are Afriart Gallery, blank projects, Eclectica Contemporary, Everard Read, First Floor Gallery Harare, Gallery MOMO, Goodman Gallery, Guns & Rain, Kalashnikovv, SMAC Gallery, Stevenson, and WHATIFTHEWORLD.

Emerging galleries and hybrid art spaces will present in their own dedicated section called LAB, which is being co-curated by Kim Kandan (Gallery Liaison) and independent curator Aida Esi Hayfron-Benjamin. LAB seeks to connect galleries from West and East Africa with galleries from the Sub-Saharan region.

FNB Art Joburg's Managing Director, Mandla Sibeko. Photo: Karabo Mooki.

FNB Art Joburg's Managing Director, Mandla Sibeko. Photo: Karabo Mooki. Courtesy FNB Art Joburg.

'There aren't many lines of communication between us and that disconnect is not ignorance,' explained Hayfron-Benjamin. 'As curators, gallerists, artists and people who put together fairs, it is our job to think about how to bridge that gap by facilitating connections through interventions like gallery LAB.'

FNB Art Joburg's managing director Mandla Sibeko said he was thrilled to be back with an in-person fair in 2022.

'As the first and longest-running contemporary art fair on the continent, FNB Art Joburg continues to show active commitment to the arts and showcasing the dynamic talent that Joburg, South Africa and the continent has to offer,' he said. —[O]

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