Why do we need Art Activism?

South Africa needs a culture of art lovers to ensure the sustained existence of artists. Art should be an important item on the menu of a child’s experiences, a tool to measure who we are as people and as a nation as well as a thought-provoking, sometimes shocking and often beautiful journey for the soul. We as African’s need to define our own art language, and start owning our own creativity.

One of the Africa Centre’s primary objectives in attracting audiences to the Spier Contemporary 2010, is to communicate the message that art is open for all.

Everyday ordinary people of different backgrounds, education, geographical and social groups are encouraged to see the Spier Contemporary 2010. Being both free of entry and centrally located at the Cape Town City Hall, the Spier Contemporary 2010 has a real shot at making that happen.

With over 134 artworks, by 101 artists, selected from over 2700 submissions; the exhibition is a mirror for South African society right now. It’s also an opportunity to change public perceptions of art; making it free to access, open to anyone to view and representative of a cross-section of age, race, gender, medium and subject matter.

The Art Activism Project

In conjunction with Word of Art, The Spier Contemporary has launched an art activism project to generate debate, awareness and enthusiasm for contemporary art – hoping also to create new audiences for art.

Art Ambassadors

Through a network of emails, Facebook, blog, internet and direct conversations a core group of ‘art ambassadors’ was harvested to ensure that Spier Contemporary’s Open for Art message was effectively communicated to a greater audience.

A workshop at the City Hall raised interesting debate about who has access to art and how we can change perceptions around art as a ‘closed shop’. The ambassadors have gone forth to spread the message that art is open and that people need to open up to it.

Wrap Day – Activism in Motion

A call to action was issued to all those who love art – and want others to love it – to participate in a virtual flash mob activity on Friday, 5 March, 2010. Using paper or fabric, sheets, table cloths, scarves or bin liners the Spier Contemporary challenged participants to wrap something – it could be anything – and leave it wrapped for someone to find. See the results on Spier Contemporary’s group on Facebook.

Behind the idea was the notion that things, when wrapped, are differentiated. A wrapped object is set apart by being mysterious. Why is it wrapped, what is underneath? It’s a thinking that is informed by the eye of the beholder. Once unwrapped, The Spier Contemporary Exhibition hopes to do just that – change people’s perspectives by having us look at our everyday environment differently – through the eyes of our artists.


Further art activism stunts are planned for the duration of the Spier Contemporary exhibition 14 March – 14 May 2010.