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A Journey Through African Art

A Journey Through African Art

Anyone with the slightest interest in art, must head to Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz-Mocca) in Cape Town. Exhibiting 21st century art from Africa and its diaspora, it’s been called the Africa’s Tate Modern and is the largest contemporary art museum in Africa.

The location itself is breathtaking. The galleries have been carved out in what used to be a 33-metre-tall silo with much of its roughness still intact, giving an extra edge to the interior.

The art is spread over several floors and to wonder through the galleries takes you on a tour of the African art world stretching from Ghana to Kenya, Egypt to South Africa. In the permanent exhibition, you’ll find many of the “big” African names such as Mary Sibande with her life-size rearing stallion and domestic worker warrior In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity.

What surprised me was that so many art works were accompanied with sound. This isn’t a ”quiet” museum where visitors tip-toe around the art, rather a journey where many senses get their fill.

Artist: Kudzanai Chiurai

Don’t miss Zimbabwean artist and activist Kudzanai Chiurai posters questioning the power in post-colonial Africa (which almost got him arrested and prompted his exile in South Africa) and his detailed and intriguing photographs in the Revelation series. The stark photographs tell a sinister story of power abuse, child soldiers and civil wars in constructed African states.

The black and white photos of Zanele Muholi explores the black queer identity and the work The Knight of Long Knives by Athi-Patra Ruga is another highlight not to be missed.

The patron of the museum is German Jochen Zeitz (former CEO of Puma) and his private collection forms the foundation of the permanent exhibition.

Despite this, Mark Coetzee, Zeitz-Mocaa’s executive director and chief curator, insists that the vision is to provide a “platform for Africans to tell their own story and participate in the telling of that story”.

Let’s hope so.


Görrel Espelund

Journalist, author and Africa guide. Read more about Görrel here.