THE INAUGURAL STELLENBOSCH TRIENNALE.

By Nii B. Andrews.

The town of Stellenbosch, renowned for its academic prowess and historic vineyards of inestimable value, will host its inaugural TRIENNALE from February 11 to April 30 2020 with the theme “Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us”.

The objective will be “to engage fully with a divided past, a collective present and an imagined future”.

Thus, the Triennale will include a segment focused on an exploration of the archive in “From the Vault”, which references the past; exhumes archives and engages with buried museum collections as a critical resource to contextualise and map contemporary society and culture. 

It concerns itself with re-examining work that has long gathered dust in museum memory, bringing these works to the surface as an unravelling of history, an undoing of narratives.

A final segment, “On The Cusp”, is an extension of the future.

Twenty major contemporary African artists will participate in what is eagerly expected will be a groundbreaking international showcase, with extraordinary art on display, thus creating a critical exchange between creativity and the society that engenders and exhibits it.

The chief curator for the entire event is the renowned artist, Khanyisile Mbongwa. 

She stated, “my vision…… is to foster a critical space for an eco-system of transformation and transition using art as a lens, a course correction, a stimulus for curiosity and imagination where creatives confront us with what is possible for a renewal to happen”.

She will be assisted by Nontobeko Ntombela and Bernard Akoi-Jackson.

The contemporary Ghanaian curator, artist and writer Bernard Akoi-Jackson, will be in charge of the segment, “On The Cusp” where he will engage with future possibilities by introducing new artists set to innovate in the African scene to come, as well as on the world stage. 

He will venture beyond the confines of the traditional, exposing fresh practices — aesthetic, conceptual, critical or material through the selection of ten African artists/collectives across a spectrum of techniques, methods and mediums and a host of genres.

They include: Aaron Samuel Mulenga (Zambia), Agnes Waruguru (Kenya), Asafo Black Artist Collective (Ghana), Canon Rumanzi (Uganda), Indira Mateta (Angola), Lazaro Samuel (Tanzania), Malebona Maphutse (South Africa), Nelly Guambe (Mozambique), Simnikiwe Buhlungu (South Africa), Valerie Fab-Uche (Nigeria).

All told, the selected artist list reads like a who’s who of contemporary African art, here and now.

Given the status of the 20 artists on the official selection list of the Triennale and the pedigree of the curators, the event promises to be one of superlative quality and distinction in yet another great African location.

Finally, and of great importance, the Triennale has an accompanying educational platform named, The Imaginarium – a supplementary, online, open source (free) discovery and learning resource centre for all ages. 

The portal has been designed to stimulate imagination and support 21st century learning skills.

Using the Triennale as context and reference, the 8Cs of learning – Curiosity, Creativity, Criticism, Communication, Collaboration, Compassion, Composure, Citizenship – will be stimulated and explored.

It is here that the opportunity for broad-based understanding of the artistic motives behind the curated platforms will become apparent.

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