The A4 Arts Foundation will open a dynamic new contemporary arts project space in Cape Town, on 13 September, 2017. A4 is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the arts across Southern Africa; and the new project space will act as a central hub for its diverse activities. Connecting people, ideas, and practices, A4 will showcase creative work from across the region and around the world.
A4 is built on an understanding of art as a powerful medium for improvisation and reflection. The project space runs over three floors of a renovated former warehouse building in an area of cultural, political, and socio-historical significance for the city. A4 is designed to adapt to different activities ranging from exhibitions and performances to workshops and talks. It includes a large-scale gallery, multimedia library, archive, and central project space that together create a flexible, social environment for learning, collaboration and conversation.
The main exhibition space will showcase quarterly thematic exhibitions, providing a welcoming and engaging setting for creativity and interaction.
Recognising and engaging with the various cultural economies and ecosystems in South Africa and around the world, A4 will work toward new forms of exchange amongst practitioners, patrons, and the public.
OPENING EXHIBITION: YOU & I
The inaugural exhibition You & I (13 September – 30 November 2017), will demonstrate A4 Arts Foundation’s investment in collaboration, with a group presentation that considers how people come together, exploring the conditions and dynamics of collectivity. Curated by Ziphozenkosi Dayile and artist Kemang Wa Lehulere, You & I showcases work by artists including Zanele Muholi, Glenn Ligon, Yoko Ono, Goddy Leye, Santu Mofokeng, Haroon Gunn-Salie with James Matthews, Eugene Paramoer, and The Propeller Group, amongst others. The exhibition includes a public programme of live performances, screenings and discussions.
Reflecting A4’s vision for a dynamic project space that learns and grows through practice, You & I offers an opportunity to explore collectivity as a question. Involving contributions from artists, curators, musicians, filmmakers, educators, students and other practitioners, as well as feedback and participation from the public, You & I will grow and shift across its three-month exhibition run.
Drawing on shared histories and day-to-day experiences, the works within the exhibition articulate accounts of how people connect and disconnect. Some observe or reimagine gatherings and processions, others look at teamwork, organisation, or individual relationships.
Haroon Gunn-Salie and James Matthews’ installation ‘Amongst Men’, commemorates the funeral of Imam Abdullah Haron held in Cape Town in 1969, where more than 30,000 people gathered to mourn the religious leader after his detention and murder by the apartheid security police in September 1969.
Santu Mofokeng’s photograph ‘Supplication’, from the series ‘Train Church’ observes two commuters locked in an intensive embrace while other passengers, Mofokeng included, are drawn in as obligatory congregants.
The artist collective The Propeller Group show ‘The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music’, re-enacting and documenting funerary traditions and rituals of south Vietnam, the film proposes the fantastical ceremonies as a part of a pulse that resonates across the global south.
You & I also includes artwork that invites communal participation. Yoko Ono’s instructional ‘Mend Piece’, for example, asks visitors to re-assemble and bind broken crockery as a meditative and cathartic process.
Visitors and participants are invited to contribute to an open archive of audio, visual and textual notes within the A4 library space over the course of the exhibition. The archive will be initiated by thoughts and references from the curators and participating artists, and will further document the public programme.