Cape Town has yet again managed to blow my mind with the level of culture and type of experiences they bring to this Southern most tip of Africa. The new Zeitz Mocaa Art Museum at the Silo District at the Waterfront is a veritable marvel of architecture and African Art. I took a morning to go and experience it and left with a sense of wonder, amazement, perplexity and a slight headache…
But that’s not a bad thing. Art is meant to stir you up and get you thinking. It is meant to disrupt and to disturb. Ask the uncomfortable questions like many installations in this gallery does. And if one does not leave slightly uncomfortable then its work is not done.
The Museum is housed in the old silos which were built in the 1920’s and decommissioned in 2001. Until recent years they were the tallest buildings in Sub Saharan Africa. Renowned British architect, Thomas Heatherwick along with a Cape Town architectural firm are responsible for transforming this space into the into the wonder it is now. They have used concrete cutting techniques to literally hollow out spaces from inside the 42 densely packed cylinders to create a sort of beehive on the the inside. The ingenious finish of the cut walls showing the concrete and stone inside the walls act as textured accents to the rustic concrete finish of the inner walls of the atrium. The geometric pillowed glass windows that are set in on the upper levels of the building lend a feel that is different and unique. Almost like an enormous sheet of beautiful bubble wrap. It is quite something to see.
We proceeded up the winding staircase, taking us floor by floor up 6 levels of galleries and installations. Famous artists like William Kentridge was showcased with a moving film installation along with other African artists from all over Africa like Nicholas Hlobo, Cyrus Kabiru, Hank Willis Thomas, Jody Paulsen and Kendell Geers to name just a few.
One that struck me in particular was from Cape Town’s own Thania Peterson. Her photographic installation of a Malay woman in typical Malaysian outfit and presentation set against the backdrop of quintissential Cape Town scenery spoke to the struggle of Muslims in the Cape to find their identity. Her work inspired me to go and find out more about this artist and her story of identity, guilt and inner conflict as a Muslim woman is one I think will truly resonate with alot of Muslim women. Usually the subject of her own portraits her work is beautiful, moving and controversial in conservative Muslim culture. Read more about Thania in this article from Africanah.org.
There are several moving media installations that were thought provoking like the “End of Carrying All” and some installations that were downright disturbing like those of Roger Ballen. What I found lacking was that none of the exhibitions contained background information about the art. Only the artist and country and technical information about the print. I was told that there are audio guides being developed. I definitely plan another trip there when the guides are ready. They will be invaluable in giving more depth to the exhibition.
The rooftop houses an external exhibition as well as a restaurant which was closed for a function when we were there. From here you can also see some of the adjoining hotel which shares the silo structure.
The museum is open to all Wednesday to Monday, from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Ticket price: Daily admission is R180 for adults, while entry is free for under 18s. Or you can choose to sign up for a membership at R250 a year (R185 for pensioners).
- Under 18:
To ensure access for all, children under the age of 18 years can visit the museum free of charge.Wednesdays:
Free entry for African citizens every Wednesday, between 10 am – 1 pm.Museum Night:
Free entry between 5 pm – 10 pm on Museum Night. Last entry 9:30 pm. Next Museum Night takes place on Wednesday, 25 October 2017.
Half-price admission between 4 pm – 9 pm every first Friday of the month. Last entry: 8:30 pm.
For more information call 087 350 4777 or email info@zeitzmocaa.