Spier Contemporary Opens for Art in Cape Town

The Spier Contemporary 2010 will open on 14 March 2010 after two years  of planning, a nationwide call for entry, an exhaustive curatorial tour, and the astonishing transformation of its exhibition space, the Cape Town City Hall.

The exhibition winners will be announced at the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, 13 March 2010. The project will award nearly R 1.8 million directly to the artists. This is apportioned as acknowledgement grants (R4,000 per artist exhibited), five career development grants totalling R500,000, one audience choice award of R100,000 and seven international arts residency awards.

Presented by the Africa Centre (, the Spier Contemporary Art Exhibition will showcase the work of 101 artists from across South Africa. (Spier Contemporary comes hot on the heels of another Africa Centre project, the Infecting the City Public Arts Festival that took Cape Town by storm in mid-February 2010.)

If contemporary art is defined as ‘art that is created now’, then the Spier Contemporary is the visual and aural barometre of what it is like to live in South Africa in 2010. Comprising of 132 artworks from 101 artists, distilled from over 2,700 national submissions, the artists have contemplated and exposed every element of the South African condition: our fears, our joys, our humour and our trepidations. It speaks to the past, and imagines the future. It serves up a plethora of views and challenges us to think differently. It gives us a poetic, private moment with our world.

Reflecting something for everyone, the themes in the exhibition range from the struggle for identity to a lack of faith in our leadership, from mediatations on urbanisation to revisiting memories. There is irony, humour, self-reflection and cultural play.

The Spier Contemporary is the largest biennale of South African art staged in the country. This extraordinary show features artists who work across the diversity of media, including sculpture, painting, photography, installation, video and performance art.

The Contemporary 2008 was held on the Spier Estate outside Stellenbosch. Prior to moving on to Johannesburg.  This iteration, the Africa Centre will be launching the Exhibition at Cape Town’s City Hall. The City Hall was chosen based on its position at the heart of the City, allowing it to be easily accessed by all.  Admission to the exhibition is free and it is open seven days a week from 10am till 6pm (public holidays included).

The Spier Contemporary 2010 is expecting to host 3,500 school learners at the exhibition. The educational programme is in partnership with the Ibhabhathane Project, and is funded by  a grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF).

The Spier Contemporary 2010 also houses a pop-up café by Rotisserie 360 that will serve light meals and has a fully licensed bar. The Fringe Arts Shop will sell the Spier Contemporary artworks and catalogue. It will also sell other functional art.

Many exciting events have been planned for the two month duration of the exhibition until 14 May 2010. Accompanying the formal weekly artist’s walkabouts are debates and discussions, open mic sessions, poetry readings, wine tasting, live music sessions (both classical and contemporary), Creative Cape Town meetings, radio workshops, and public and private functions. Keep checking back on this website for details.

The Spier Contemporary 2010 is presented by The Africa Centre and is made possible by the generous funding of Spier.