Since the dramatic fall of apartheid in 1994, Johannesburg has emerged as the artistic capital of sub-Saharan Africa. This episode tells the story of four artists from a diversity of South African ethnic backgrounds, identities and generations working across photography, painting, sculpture, and performance. Collectively, the artists in this hour use their work to empower marginalized communities, reexamine history, and pursue their visions for South Africa’s future.
Image: Zimaseka ‘Zim’ Salusalu, Gugulethu, Cape Town, 2011 .
Season 9 of Art in the Twenty-First Century charts art-making in three urban centers across three continents: Berlin, Johannesburg, and the San Francisco Bay Area. From the post-Cold War cultural and economic rebirth in Berlin, to the dramatic fall of apartheid in South Africa and the technological boom in the Bay Area, the twelve artists and one non-profit art center highlighted in this season respond to the forces that have shaped the places where they live and work, while pursuing their personal visions for a better future.
As each artist draws inspiration from their surrounding communities, they also travel to museums and public spaces internationally to share their work, reminding us of the increasingly global nature of the world we live in. The artists in this season examine the complicated histories of colonization, war and migration, offer new perspectives on our interactions with technology and the environment, critique our conceptions of gender, sexuality, and race, and ultimately inspire us to see our world in new ways.
“San Francisco Bay Area,” 2018; “Johannesburg,” 2018; “Berlin,” 2018 from Art21’s Art in the Twenty-First Century series, Courtesy Art21, founded 1997, art21.org