Contemporary art exhibition at JCAF explores themes of belonging in South Africa

Sethembile Msezane, Avuleka AmaZulu
(2017). © Sethembile Msezane
Sethembile Msezane, Avuleka AmaZulu (2017). © Sethembile Msezane

Otherscapes, the new exhibition at The Joburg Contemporary Art Foundation (JCAF), asks the questions: If it were possible to create a collective sense of belonging in South Africa, what would it look like? How would it feel? The exhibition features works from four contemporary South African artists: Siemon Allen, Wim Botha, Nicholas Hlobo and Sethembile Msezane.

Otherscapes proposes surveying the scene of contemporary South Africa through four large-scale installations that can be viewed as “spaces”. These suggest different takes on the state of the country by exploring narratives around people and nation, identity and place, body and space.

The four installations evoke architectural qualities, forms that emerge from the landscape, but as spectres rather than solid structures. Since they are interactive spatial environments, the viewer must walk around, in or through the installations in order to engage with them. From the illusion of the rainbow nation to the disappointment of a failed state, the exhibition interrogates what lies in the space between utopia and failure.

The work from the artists provides subjective views that were informed by colonialism, politics, memory and spirituality. According to Clive Kellner, executive director at JCAF, the exhibition asks how art can reflect on the current South African situation, not through direct representation but through ideas that reflexively raise important questions about our democracy. 

JCAF is a foundation dedicated to research, technology and art. As a hybrid institution, JCAF combines an academic research institute, an innovative technology laboratory and a platform for museum-quality exhibitions. Their ethos is to advance appreciation of modern and contemporary art, through the production, sharing and preservation of knowledge. With their exhibitions they aim to promote a personal encounter between visitors and the artworks. JCAF wants visitors to slow down the experience of looking at and engaging with art to instil an approach to viewing art that is reflective rather than consumerist.

Otherscapes will be open for viewing from 28 June until 4 November 2023.

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Entrance is free.

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