My Joburg continues a series of exhibitions showcasing art in cities that are not capitals, less known by French public, and which began in summer 2011 with Winnipeg in Manitoba province, Canada. The exhibition takes in a range of art from Johannesburg, with particular emphasis on young artists who have yet to come to public attention in France.
The city of Johannesburg has become home to a thriving community of painters, photographers, sculptors and video artists whose work describes a city in the throes of change with a complex social, political and urban history. My joburg sets out to capture certain facets of this. While making no claims to explore every aspect of its art scene, but bringing their curiosity and fresh eyes, Paula Aisemberg and Antoine de Galbert, respectively director and chairman of la maison rouge, have developed the exhibition in consultation with key figures and specialists in the Johannesburg art scene, such as Nechama Brodie, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, John Fleetwood, Bettina Malcomess, Molemo Moiloa and Sean O’Toole.
Sprawling, cosmopolitan Johannesburg is a patchwork of contrasting districts, where social injustice didn’t disappear with apartheid in 1994. Much remains to be done, politically and socially, before every voice is heard. Still, the city continues to shed its old skin. Neighbourhoods such as the city centre that were once deserted now attract new populations and have become busy and even fashionable hubs. Immigrants from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique have also settled in the city, transforming the urban geography. Artists have seized on this urban and social disparity.
Their work sets out to grasp the changes taking place in their country and their city, portrayed differently according to each artist’s age, origins and media. Now Johannesburg has a dynamic art scene, backed by an active network of private and public structures. Galleries show South African artists outside the country and the African continent, often at international art fairs. Within the space of a few years, many artists’ communities and non-profit groups have formed further adding to the city’s cultural network, such as the Center for Historical Reenactments, the Trinity Session, Bag Factory and August House and several Johannesburg universities teach art and art history to a high level, providing fertile ground for the future of art in the city. Johannesburg today is at the core of African contemporary art.
The exhibition My Joburg highlights the diversity and wealth of the Johannesburg art scene by showing recent work by more than 40 artists representing the city’s last three generations and La maison rouge has also invited contributions from several members of the Johannesburg art world.