Archive: Issue No. 101, January 2006

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eKapa: The debate continues online
by Carine Zaayman

CAPE eKapa blog

The Sessions eKapa conference, held in Cape Town in early December, proved to be one of the most controversial gatherings the South African art word has seen in a while. Ostensibly organised as a launch for the CAPE / AFRICA Platform, the conference opened more cans of worms than many expected, and did precious little for any sense of unified purpose among art practitioners.

Nonetheless, judging from their website, the organisers seem to feel that the conference was, in general, a success, seeing that it had brought so many issues to the attention of CAPE and Sessions eKapa delegates. It seems to me, however, that there are still a number of issues facing the organisation itself, and though they might welcome the opportunity to address these issues, they also need to realise the pressing nature of the concerns raised by the art community at this forum.

Perhaps as an answer to the storm of discussions and critiques levelled against the conference, CAPE has established an online forum to continue the debate. The forum (which they call a blog) currently features an invitation to provide feedback on the Sessions eKapa conference, an address by Sessions organiser Julian Jonker entitled States of Emergence, an extended diary of the conference by José Ferreira and a letter from Gavin Jantjies, recently appointed Artistic Director for the proposed biennial of contemporary African art for September 2006, and one of the most controversial people (and, in fact, topics) on the conference.

Apart from these long letters, there is also a summary of eKapa in the press, where one can follow, in some detail, a number of the responses from the press. Downloads include the cogent and insightful article by Liza Grobler (from Die Burger), the discussion of the appointment of Gavin Jantjies by Melvyn Minnaar (from the Cape Times and Kim Gurney's witty take on the more chaotic aspects of the conference (from the Mail and Guardian).

I sincerely hope that the forum that the organisers have provided will be utilised by the public, so that the debate can actually have a trail of words, which can be referred to by everyone as the process progresses. As yet, I am only able to find one post, an extract from Caroline Fekete-Kaiser's feedback on the conference. This forum could also provide a voice for those who were, unlike the intrepid Lorna Ferguson, unable to give their commentary and feedback.