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Cape Town, the rush to Art

20 septembre 2017

Victim of apartheid until 1991, South Africa today advocates peace between different cultures and makes "unity in diversity", the official motto of its country. On September 22, 2017, South Africa is about to turn a new page in its history by opening the largest museum of contemporary art that Africa has ever known.

The « rainbow » nation

Located at the southern tip of the African continent, the Republic of South Africa is the African country that concentrates the most different populations. Multiracial culture brings together the “colored” populations, white and Indian populations and European languages ​​(English and Afrikaans) with African languages ​​(sotho, zulu, swati, tsonga, venda, tswana, xhosa and ndebele ). It is easy to understand that the population of the country of Nelson Mandela is now nicknamed the "rainbow nation". Bordered by nearly 3000 km of coastline, South Africa is caught between two oceans, Atlantic and Indian, and offers travelers a wide variety of landscapes. The heterogeneous reliefs give to the adventurers beaches with turquoise waters, imperial mountains like Table Mountain or even huge desert areas.

Table Mountain

The modernity, eclecticism and dynamism of large American-like cities such as Johannesburg or the capital Pretoria contrast with the more traditional and authentic aspect of some African villages. The country's fauna and flora are also very diverse and it is not uncommon for tourists from around the world to crowd in order to see the Big Five, the five largest mammals in the country: the mythical black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and lion. The country which proudly displays its cosmopolitanism also gives an important place to culture and art.

Heading to Cape Town

Ikapa, more commonly known as Cape Town, is considered the mother city of South Africa. Second most influential city after Johannesburg, Cape Town is also the parliamentary capital of South Africa. It is also and above all the place of a bubbling culture. Indeed, many theaters, cinemas and museums punctuate the streets of Cape Town. The Artscape Theater is, for example, the main arts center and includes an opera house and two theaters. The Baxter Center is also dedicated to culture. Located on the Main Road, the center is the scene of several cultural events throughout the year. Museums are also ubiquitous in Cape Town.

Bo-Kaap

The Iziko organization brings together all African museum structures such as the Bo-Kaap museum which deals with the abolition of slavery and has become a space of collection for Muslims and former slaves; the Maritime Museum; the National History Museum and the Planetarium, which exposes all scientific discoveries and highlights new technologies. Culture is also invading the streets thanks to the many festivals (the Cape Town Marimba Festival, the Cape Town Big Band jazz Festival and Danscape) that make the heart of the city beat each year.

 Zeitz MOOCA

The largest museum of contemporary African art is set to open in Cape Town on Friday, September 22, 2017. According to Mark Coetzee, general manager and chief curator of the future Museum of Contemporary African Art Zeitz, the public interest in African art continues to grow: “the foundation of the Zeitz MOCAA is particularly important for South Africa, a country where everything that is genuinely African has been relegated to the second rank for decades[…] There is a desire to reinvent a museum in an African context, and (to) celebrate an Africa that preserves its own cultural heritage, writes its own history and defines itself according to its own terms.” The 6,000 m2 of surface area will welcome the collection of African art by Jochen Zeitz, a German businessman and ex-patron of Puma who gives his name to the museum, as well as temporary exhibitions on contemporary art. The museum is also distinguished from the traditional museums by its atypical architecture.

Mooca intérieur

The enormous complex, which will also house children's educational centers, shops, bookstores and cafeterias, is actually an old grain elevator which dates from 1921. The silos, height of 57 meters, have given a headache to the architect in charge of shaping the museum: "How would you transform 42 vertical concrete tubes into an ideal place to discover contemporary culture? We could either fight against a building made of concrete tubes or enjoy its “tubing”. The architect Thomas Heatherwick was able to take advantage of the particular structure of the buildings while making some improvements. Some works have been put in place such as the creation of a skylight thanks to a glass roof or the insertion of elevators in the silos. Finally, a huge garden will be set up on the roof of the museum where visitors will have an exceptional view over Cape Town. A city that wants to be the equal of Paris and New York, and on which every amateur of Art, contemporary and in love with African culture, will have to count in the future.

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