Archive: Issue No. 85, September 2004

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MojaModern Joins the ranks of burgeoning new art galleries in Jo'burg
by Kresta Tyler Johnson

August saw the end of winter and the birth of a new gallery in the fashionable area of Parktown North in Johannesburg. MojaModern is a collaborative effort by three artists, Rhett Martyn, James Delaney and Trae Tellard to promote the work of young South African artists.

Attempting to equate themselves with the trendy area of Chelsea in New York City, they billed their space as an industrial gallery with the white wall aesthetic. In their attempt to be ultra hip, they may have reduced their class and credibility.

Claiming they have art available for all budgets as well as first time buyers, they are treading on the shaky ground between promoting young artists and making them a kitschy commodity that becomes decoration. There is certainly an aspect of 'dumbing down' in their rhetoric when describing the art they sell and in the names they have assumed for future exhibitions such as 'Cheapskate Bazaar'.

Maybe they really will appeal to first time buyers and bring out some novice collectors, but at what price to the integrity of the artists themselves? I am a bit sceptical on this one, as with many idealist ventures, I will have to wait and see.