Art is more than just about the business that generates it. Gallery Momo is more than just a conduit for the sale of art but also the creation of works that seeks to challenge the ideas of those who enter her walls. Set in the leafy suburbs of Parktown North this gallery offers both collectors and art enthusiasts the opportunity to engage with works that:
… keep pushing the boundaries of local and international markets. The gallery continues to support local and international young-and-upcoming talent through its renowned residency program. This program allows artists to exchange ideas and engage with the new environment (Gallery Momo, 2016).
I got to meet up and interview the creative director Odysseus Shirindza of Gallery Momo.
Motlatsi Khosi (MK): Please explain how Gallery MOMO started and how you (Odysseus) became a part of its creative team?
Odysseus Shirindza (OS): The gallery was founded in 2003 by Monna Mokoena to fill the gap in the market for a contemporary African art. I joined the gallery late 2015 as the operations manager.
MK: What have been some of the major hurdles and blessings in running the gallery and what advice would you give to black creatives and entrepreneurs when engaging the business aspect of the arts.
OS: At the end of the day a business is business regardless of your background, the challenges are the same however that is not to say that overcoming those challenges is equally easy for everyone. I’m fairly new with the gallery so the impact of my contribution only time will tell. But the in the time I’ve been with the gallery, working with the artists that we represent has been a great blessing and the challenge is also managing the very same artist that make my work enjoyable.
MK: What role do you see black collectors playing in the art word? Is it all business or do they also have some sort responsibility to the creative arts within South Africa and the continent.
OS: The role of the black collector is very important especially at this point in our civilization. To quote Nina Simone, “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times”. Then in that case the collector’s duty is to preserve what the artists produce. The more black collectors buy in to what the artists produce, the more we can be secure as a people that that our place in history is safe and that our stories will be told with integrity because our is in the custodianship of people who have vested interest. It is our job as black people to collect and preserve our own history and/ through art.
MK: Art and creatives from this continent are making waves and gaining a new thrust in popularity, both locally and internationally. What role does Gallery MOMO play in fueling this next wave in the consumption and appreciation of the arts?
OS: Africa and African art and artists have become very recognizable on the international art scene. Our main duty as a gallery still remains to break down barriers and expose the artists that we represent at best light and at the right platforms.