Images courtesy of
Images courtesy of Turbine Art Fair

Turbine Art Fair 2017 // The Red Edifice of Cultural Display

An iconic red roof rests on brick and mortar in the midst of the bustling city. A mammoth giant. The glass and steel structure extends into lofty space. Flooded with light. The refurbished 1920s power station is a vessel of display for burgeoning young artists, waiting for works to be catapulted into contemporary collections. The concrete floor lays way for the labyrinth of exhibits.

The fifth annual fair took place from the 13th-16th of July at the historic Turbine Hall in Newtown. In excess of 50 galleries and exhibits from around South Africa participated in the show. The agenda of the fair is twofold; first, to provide a platform for young artist and galleries to showcase their work in the competitive art market and second, to foster a culture of investing in art and cultural production. TAF aims to appeal to a broad art market – the ceiling of sales for each artwork was set at R50 000 and bellow to ensure that investment in art is more easily accessible.

Screenshot from trailer of ‘Falling’ by Sethembile Msezane


A personal highlight was the affecting video installation Falling by Sethembile Msezane – who was awarded the 2016 TAF & Sylt Emerging Artist Residency Award (TASA). The piece was situated in the cavernous basement space. Pixels projected into an alcove depicted the artist’s body engaged in a restless sleep of ritual practice. Falling explores notions of constructed mythology on the continent and iconographic ties to political unrest. An overtone of her practice is the absence of monumentalisation regarding the black female body in public space.

The curated site-specificity of this work created an interesting juxtaposition to the monumental scale of the building it was hosted within. Throughout the fair, the edifice seemed to have an enlivened character of its own. Spaces like TAF aid in creating cultural value through constructing platforms for young artists like Sethembile and her contemporaries.

Bambo Sibiya, ‘Boy 2’


Muntu-Vilakazi, ‘Untitled 4’


Sheekha Kalan, ‘Untitled I’

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