TRANS CAPE postponed for six months
Barely two weeks after releasing the names of more than sixty participating artists from 19 countries selected for TRANS CAPE, a large scale art event scheduled to open September 23, news comes that the whole event has been postponed for six months. TRANS CAPE will now open on March 24, 2007.
In a shock announcement on Friday, August 11, the organizers, CAPE Africa Platform, said that funding had not reached expectations, and the event would have run out of money in the opening weeks of the month-long event. The extra time was essential in order to allow would-be funders to allocate money from the next financial year.
To announce a postponement just over a month before the opening has adversely affected and disrupted the plans of an internationally wide network of artists, curators, art critics, and writers who were to have flown in to support the new venture. Locally, the news has been met with disbelief and dismay. Many artists had already put considerable effort into work that would have appeared as part of the fringe, X-CAPE.
Asked if it might not have been better to stage a somewhat smaller event now that could have been covered by existing funding rather than damage credibility with a postponement, artistic director Gavin Jantjes responded that that was not the way he worked. TRANS CAPE had been curated with a particular vision, and it was not possible to cut back the number of artists, for instance, and maintain that vision.
Expressing his disappointment at this postponement after seven months of planning, Jantjes said that business partners had not appreciated the size and scale of the event, and needed to realize that if one wanted the prestige of an international contemporary art event, it was necessary to make a firm commitment.
The catalogue had already gone to the printers, and has now had to be recalled. Jantjes said that most of the participating artists had been contacted over the past 24 hours, and many had indicated they would be able to exhibit the selected pieces at the later date. Jantjes said that compared to similar art events overseas, TRANS CAPE was operating on a shoestring budget.
Of the CAPE Africa Platform staff, Jantjes himself will return to take up commitments in Norway at the end of November, and will return in February. Khwezi Gule will go back to the Johannesburg Art Gallery at the end of August, and co-curator Gabi Ngcobo will remain in Cape Town to continue working on the project.
Jantjes pointed out that re-situating TRANS CAPE to March next year would tie in with two other festivals � the Cape Town Festival and the International Jazz Festival, which will take place over the same period.
At the July media launch two weeks earlier, CAPE had announced that the participating artists included international names like Turner Prize nominee Yinka Shonibare, Dakar biennale prize-winner Mounir Fatmi, and South African artists Marlene Dumas and William Kentridge. Local artists comprise about a third of the participants. They include Peter Clarke, Willie Bester, David Goldblatt, Berni Searle and George Hallett, alongside younger artists like Robin Rhode, Churchill Madikida, Senzeni Marasela and Dineo Bopape.
TRANS CAPE venues will be spread along a triangular geographical route from the city centre to Muizenberg and out to Stellenbosch. They include formal establishments like Iziko's South African National Gallery, The Centre for the Book, Iziko Slave Lodge and Natale Labia. More informal venues include Look Out Hill in Khayelitsha, Oliver Tambo Sports Centre, Kirstenbosch Gardens and various railway stations, as well as restaurants, B&B's and even private homes.
There will be some site-specific works. Plans include a functional sculpture by Kevin Brand that doubles as a skate park at Surfers Corner in Muizenburg and Willie Bester will be working on a sculpture to be completed for the next iteration of the biennial event, in 2008. A special project with architect David Adjaye will make design proposals addressing temporary housing conditions in Africa.
Professor Kader Asmal, the patron of CAPE Africa Platform, said at the launch the exhibition was unique in its engagement through artists and their works with different cultures in South Africa and different countries across the African continent. He said: "The artists' works show that they are the makers of a new history of African art that speaks to global and local audiences from an African vantage point."
There will also an artist-driven initiative, or fringe, called X-CAPE.
The 'TRANS CAPE' list of artists is as follows (South Africans in bold):
Sokari Douglas Camp
Taïeb Ben Hadj Ahmed
Annie Anawana Haloba
Baaba Jakeh Chande
Bodys Isek Kingelez
Bright Ugochukwu Eke
Ina van Zyl