Pioneering ‘Room to Shine’

LATITUDES, Makgati Molebatsi, Lucy McGarry, Roberta Coci, Nokwazi Zimu,

  Lucy MacGarry, Makgati Molebatsi, Roberta Coci, Nokwazi Zimu

LATITUDES is a platform for African art in international times. The first African art fair that is 100% owned by women, it’s a niche-focused fair that seeks to expand and strengthen local art audiences and promote African art in an economically viable manner.

“By African, we mean anyone who has a meaningful connection to Africa and the diaspora, and by international, we mean the endless permutations of trans-geographic relationships – not the reinforcement of values entrenched in European and American economic centres” explains LATITUDES co-founder, Makgati Molebatsi.

“The Fair has been developed in close conversation with several African galleries, and sets out to nurture exchange between artists, galleries, collectors, curators, and researchers throughout Africa and the diasporas. We aim to expand and strengthen audiences for contemporary art, as well as create a richer global understanding of African cultural production.” LATITUDES co-founder, Lucy MacGarry.

Johannesburg in September is a month dedicated to celebrating art in the city.
Launched in 2019 as part of the wider Art Week LATITUDES founders combined the core element of a traditional art fair – gallery-run exhibition booths – with a curated programme to put together an offering that showcased 24 exhibitors from 9 countries and featured a rich programme of artists, exhibitions, children’s activities, critical talks, walkabouts and film screenings.

According to Makgati Molebatsi, the Business Development Director of the fair, “The vision for the fair itself was articulated by five women working in the South African art scene. But the hope, which is really the backbone of this initiative, belongs to artists, curators, collectors and art lovers who have felt for some time that the art market as it exists today does not yet have a place for them.”

To this end, LATITUDES Art fair came at an apt time as South Africa’s oldest art fair – FNB Joburg Art Fair, relaunched as FNB Art Joburg – underwent a fundamental change in structure  and ownership which also saw a shift in approach.
More than 45 galleries exhibited at the 2018 edition of the fair. The 2019 figure was significantly reduced as FNB Art Joburg only featured nine galleries in their main section, and nine more emerging galleries displayed work in an ‘incubator space’. This reduction meant that many galleries that exhibited at the fair in the past were left out.

In an interview with the Mail and Guardian, Molebatsi said, “Art Joburg has its galleries. We don’t want those… we want those artists and galleries who are saying they’ve been trying to get into Joburg Art Fair but they cannot. Our formation was not meant to disrupt the established Johannesburg art scene but to strengthen it”.
They believe that adding another art fair to Johannesburg in September contributes to the growth of the economic hub of the country and complements the efforts made by others to turn the city of Johannesburg into an international cultural hub.

We say aye to this – and have expressly designed our tour Meet The Makers to enjoy this buzzing urban bounty next September.

Acknowledgment for video: & quote ”Room to Shine”

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