Archive: Issue No. 122, October 2007

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Cape Africa Platform reassessment: Cape 08 changes to Cape 09
by Tavish Mcintosh

With the money still pending from the Lotto Distribution Fund, Cape Africa Platform - the organisers of Cape 07 - began an intensive 5 month process of self-examination. With interviews and business analyses covered, the organisers have produced a comprehensive business plan for the next two years. This includes the postponement of the upcoming exhibition until 2009 - which maintains the biennale format and gives the organisers time to rationalise the preparations. Whilst many of the plans depend on the payment from the Lotto Distribution Fund, money is being independently sourced from a variety of partnerships to ensure the continuity of the plans.

The Cape 07 publication, edited and designed by the Artheat blogger Robert Sloon, is planned for December 2007. The publication will feature artists and artworks showcased in Cape 07, and a number of interviews arising from telephone, email and face-to-face exchanges. This will be published by Jacana Media and co-published by Editions de l'Oeil (Paris), however whether this will be a big-budget book or an online publication depends on funding.

The definite plans include an ongoing Young Curators' Development Programme, which will provide focussed 18 month training for young curators. This is being funded by Economic Development and Tourism Western Cape (other sources are still to be confirmed). Exciting plans for internships locally and abroad with the likes of superstar curator Simon Njami (of 'Africa Remix' fame) are in the pipeline.

The organisers are raising new funds for three upcoming Sessions. The Sessions consist of a series of debates, lectures and workshops, which will feed into the content of the exhibition itself. Sessions will take place in Cape Town (April 2008), Luanda (May 2008) and Maputo (September 2008). Sessions eKapa will be a workshop-based conference, with a practical focus on the relationship between business and the arts.

The Luanda and Maputo Sessions will take on an alternative format. They are tied to residences for young curators, a member of the Cape Africa Platform research team and a selected artist. These residencies will begin approximately six weeks before the next scheduled Sessions. Sessions Luanda will be a joint initiative with the Triennale de Luanda and Sessions Maputo will be run in partnership with Muvart and the Museu Naçional de Moçambique.

The exhibition Cape 09 will be fed from three sources rather than relying upon the vision of a central artistic director. According to Mirjam Asmal-Dik, Cape Africa Platform's Managing Director, it will be an 'amalgamation of curating minds' rather than an individual's central vision. This strategic change is partly due to the disappointing response when the organisation first called for proposals (only four were received with only one response from a South African), and partly due to an acknowledgement that the most important factor for sustainability of the biennale is the buy-in of the local art community (which is potentially alienated in the big budget shipping-artworks-in model).

One of the sources is the Young Curators' Development Programme, which is currently advertising for applicants (see EXCHANGE). After their intensive training programme, these young curators will be given the chance to develop new projects for the exhibition. Mozambican and Angolan content for the exhibition will be sourced from the upcoming Sessions Maputo and Sessions Luanda. And whilst X-Cape continues as the fringe event of the exhibition administrated by VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa), the organisers of Cape 09 will be calling for public proposals from external parties (like local art collectives) to be incorporated into the main exhibition.

With an undiminished enthusiasm for the potential of a local biennale and with the determination to set the foundations of the next exhibition properly, the Cape Africa Platform seems well on its way to establishing their dreamed of biennale - that is if the Lotto ever pays up.