The Spier Contemporary competition and exhibition has been conceived to provide an open platform for all artists to show their work, uncompromised by the limitations of technology, space and access. Artists in South Africa work under extremely varied conditions and see from radically different perspectives. These differences are what define our collective identity and unique social and cultural landscape. The Spier Contemporary provides a space for exploring our diversity, giving audiences insights into our complexity and thus contributing to our understanding of difference.
The core objectives of the Spier Contemporary are to:

  • Create a large-scale national exhibition, which genuinely reflects the diversity of the broad arts community living in South Africa;
  • Develop new audiences and markets for artists, who do not normally have access to such a large pool of potential buyers;
  • Access new audiences and develop their appreciation of a broad spectrum of artistic forms; and
  • Provide training and development for artists and curators.

Competition and Exhibition

The core of the Spier Contemporary 2010 is a national competition and exhibition. The competition is open to all artists and art forms including, but not exclusive to, the traditional mediums (e.g. painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture) and newer languages (e.g. installation, new media, film or performance). There are genuinely no limitations. From the artwork submitted to the competition a team of curators will select an exhibition of up to 100 artworks.

This exhibition will be launched in Cape Town in March 2010 at the City Hall in Darling Street. After Cape Town the exhibition will travel to Museum Africa in Johannesburg and the Durban Art Gallery.

Training and Development

All artists in South Africa work under extremely challenging circumstances but some have even more limited access to resources and information. To begin to try and broaden the base of skills and resources the Spier Contemporary 2010 has a variety of development initiatives as part of our two year cycle:

  • Fees and Awards – there are artists fees and awards of up to R1,200,000 for the professional development and career advancement of all participating artists;
  • Curatorial Training – five young curators are participating in a 12-month programme, which includes both theory and practical training in curatorial practice
  • Artist in Residency – in collaboration with Fort Hare University, a month long intensive residency for 10 visual artists is conducted at Alice, Eastern Cape
  • Visual Art Workshops – a series of 4, three-day workshops, are developed for visual artists. These workshops are held in smaller cities and rural areas, catering specifically to the individual needs of the artists in the areas chosen; and
  • Performance Art Workshops – a series of 3, three-day workshops for performance artists are conducted in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

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The Awards

The Spier Contemporary 2010 offers a range of awards designed specifically to support the professional development of the winning artists. A selection award was made to each artist chosen for the exhibition in recognition of the incredible effort and energy each has made to enter the competition. In addition, the Spier Contemporary 2010 included the following awards:

  • Judge Awards – five awards are made by the team of three international judges.
  • Audience Award – one audience choice award is made via popular vote by visitors to the Cape Town exhibition.

Both these category of awards are designed to assist the winning artists in developing their respective career. The winning artists develop a comprehensive proposal and budget for how they wish to use the award to advance their career.
The total cash available to be shared amongst the artists who win these six awards is R600 000.

  • Residency Awards – In addition to these awards, there are seven artists-in-residency awards, which Spier Contemporary 2010 artists have won. Four international residency programmes have offered places and funding for Spier Contemporary 2010 artists.

The available residencies include:

  • Gyeonggi Creation Center Residency Studio Program in Seongam Island, Ansan City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea (two awards provided);
  • The Instituto Sacatar and the Sacatar Foundation on the Island of Itaparica, Bahia, Brazil (two awards provided);
  • 18TH STREET ARTS CENTER in Los Angeles, California, USA; and
  • Thamdigi Foundation Prize in Arnhem, Netherlands and Beijing China (two awards provided).

The total value of the cash and residency awards is R1 800 000.