'Meek 1' by Guto Bussab

Growth fuelled by partnerships and collaborations – Gallery One11

Interdisciplinary practices within the arts, and even society in general, is one of the symptoms of post-modernism, pushing back at a modernist agenda which prioritised and celebrated specialisation and efficiency in the aim of industry and progress, therefore resulting in reductionism and fragmentation. (Artist, Makoto Fujimura’s writings on this have primarily shaped my thoughts on this condition) This means that, within the arts, roles were specialised and artists were to focus on art, and leave the business to the gallerists and dealers. And for some artists this was convenient and beneficial, but it could not be a system which works for everyone.

Restone Maambo in studio

Artist-led initiatives operating in the commercial gallery circuit therefore offer one exciting alternative model to the status quo. Gallery One11, which opened up in September 2017, is one such venture. A partnership between artist and curator Megan Theunissen, and business entrepreneur and director Marita Schneider, their aims are to align a strong business model with a sensitivity to well curated exhibitions and a more collaborative approach with the represented artists. Megan told me that the focus of Gallery One11 is to “encourage collaboration between artists, host constructive dialogue and allow for artists to remain engaged, and for information to be accessible for all whom enter our premises.” Megan also felt that her background in painting was an asset to her current position, although she did admit to having a small bias towards exhibiting painting. Discussing the position such a venture occupies in the industry, Megan claims there is room for more, stating that “Artist-led hubs can be successfully modelled further in SA if more people paid attention to them; many individuals that I know in this regard are intelligent curators pushing limitations and I hope more hubs will develop.”

Installation view: Gideon Appah (December 2017)

Ambitious in its inception, Megan and Marita have a vision for the gallery. They hope “to see Gallery One11 flourish into a platform that is outspoken and, with time, hopefully people will come to recognize the space for its great curation in Cape Town.” Their vision extends beyond their own space, acknowledging that “it’s important to initiate and develop, and [that] more like-minded individuals are needed to grow our local infrastructures. Collaboration is vital so we welcome as much of it as possible.” Upcoming shows include artists Brandon Boyd, Felix Leband and Louis De Villiers, along with a group exhibition opening on the 14th of March, titled ‘Don’t Have Sex : Exploring Sexuality, Censorship, Gender in Art.’

Diversity is essential for a system to flourish, and my hope is that others will embrace the challenge to carve out different spaces and create new platforms where there were none before, weaving new dynamic strands into the cultural fabric of South Africa.

Installation view: Senzeni Marasela & Guto Bussab (October 2017)

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