Clive Kellner: I realize that if I am to enter the discussion I should introduce myself by way of Chika’s first question albeit belatedly. I apologize for my delayed response…

My encounter with contemporary African art was as one of the organizers of the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale titled, Trade Routes: History & Geography organized by Okwui with a team of curators in 1997. Although not focusing exclusively on contemporary African art it presented a number of important contemporary African artists but also the emerging context of a “new” South Africa, and the questions and challenges that mark such an emergence. Subsequently I co-founded a non-profit art center, camouflage and a pan African magazine of art and discourse, coartnews together with Angolan artist Fernando Alvim in 1999. The institution was bases both in Johannesburg and Brussels where we ran a vigorous program of exhibitions of contemporary African artists. It was at this time that I curated an exhibition of Yinka Shonibare, his only and first solo exhibition on the African continent in 2000. I also curated a number of exhibitions of contemporary South African and African artists: Videobrasil in Sao Paulo, the Foto Biennale in Rotterdam and Five Continents and One City in Mexico City.

As Chief Curator and Head (2004-2008) of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the main municipal art museum of the City of Johannesburg I undertook a number of monographic exhibitions of contemporary African artists such as Kay Hassan, Meschac Gaba and Berni Searle but also large retrospective exhibitions of contemporary South African artists who were being seen internationally but not necessarily in their home context, namely William Kentridge and David Goldblatt. In a sense this was my motivation to bring Africa Remix to Johannesburg. The fact that a large comprehensive exhibition (one of the few) of contemporary African art was traveling Europe but could not be shown on the African continent! We published a South African version of the catalogue, presented five panel discussions around the themes of the exhibition and rolled-out a significant education program. It was the largest opening attendance of an exhibition in the history of the museum. During this time we also presented exhibitions of “traditional” African art Dungamanzi and augmented the collections policy to include that of contemporary African art. I am currently curator at large of a collection of predominantly modern and contemporary South African art, the gordonschachatcollection based in Johannesburg.

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