'Home Is Where The Art Is', Zeitz MOCAA's best exhibition ever!

by - December 01, 2020

 (Not that I would know.) 

 

Classical art, modern art, street art, I have an appreciation for anything that looks like skill and effort went into its creation. Or anything that in its essence tells a profound story (as long as that story isn’t, “I’m a pretentious conceptual artist who has earned the respect of art critics despite my complete lack of creativity, originality and effort”).

Since I moved to Cape Town, The Zeitz MOCAA (or ‘Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa’) has been one of the top items on my local bucket list.

Home is where the art is

Why go to the Zeitz MOCAA?

The Zeitz MOCAA is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. It is located in a very striking building made out of repurposed historical grain silos. I remember admiring its design long before its construction was finished. (Like art, I also like architecture when it looks like skill and effort went into its design.) 

Completed in 2017, this world-class art museum is one of Cape Town’s newest tourist highlights. It derives its name from Jochen Zeitz, a German art collector who has loaned his extensive collection to the not-for-profit museum for his life-time. It is located conveniently close to the V&A Waterfront, already crammed full of interesting sights to see and things to experience. 

Travel toy Rodrigo Flamingo outside Zeitz MOCAA

Considering I only moved to Cape Town just two months before the country went into lockdown, I had not been fortunate enough to see its interiors. Never did I imagine that the first time I visited this world-renowned art institution, I would be going to see my own work exhibited. WHAT??!


Sharon: The Artist


The early years

As someone who has always been creatively inclined, I have tried my hand at a diverse range of artistic mediums: painting, sketching, photography and, more recently, pottery. I even took fine art as a subject in high school. Back in the late 90s, I was totally an emo before being an emo was even a thing! I thought that depression was just everyone’s normal state of equilibrium and if you seemed happy you were just faking it. I expressed this view through the landscapes I painted entirely in monochrome blue. 

Back in an era where high school students were strangely obsessed with painting aliens and fetuses, I somehow managed to earn the admiration of my fellow art class members. They thought my work was amazing! So did my mom. My art teacher however, did not. 

Okay, maybe my technique was crap but I liked my monochrome blue. It made me happy …well not ‘happy’ but it gave my melancholy soul a strangely pleasant sense of satisfaction. My art teacher was not a fan of surrealism and decided that instead of painting monochrome blue landscapes, I should instead paint (or attempt to paint) realistic full-colour ballet dancers. I did ballet, therefore I should combine what he believed were the two great passions of my life. Yup, that only made my 'emo-ness' worse! 

While, I may have been required to teach those painting-while-drinking-wine art classes (you know the ones I’m talking about) during my time on cruise ships, technically making me something of a professional art teacher (to intoxicated people), I would never consider myself a proper 'artist'. When I found out about the plans for the Zeitz’s current exhibition however, it seemed that the work of ‘proper artists’ was not what they were looking for. 


Artistic breakthrough:

Home Is Where The Art Is

Entrance to Home Is Where The Art Is at Zeitz Mocaa

What 'Home Is Where The Art Is' is All About:

After closing down for more than seven months due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Zeitz MOCAA decided to reopen with an exhibition of art created or owned by the people of Cape Town. Both professional and amateur work has a place in this unique presentation that has been referred to as a ‘democratic celebration of art’. Amateurs, both young and old, as well as professionals and collectors, were able to submit their work, the only condition being that it had to be either created by or owned by a Capetonian.  


The art I thought of submitting:

I knew I wanted to be a part of this, but what to submit? My first instinct was to stick to my usual aesthetic. Many years ago after completing high school, I finally exorcised my inner monochrome-blue-obsessed emo by painting this triptych. As the subject matter implies, I was living in Johannesburg at the time: 

Joburg skyline art
(Not the most Capetonian-looking work of art)

At the beginning of this year, I started pottery. I returned to my monochrome roots and created this fruit bowl:

Blue pottery bowl

In line with my emo-soul, but departing from monochrome blue, is this masterpiece. I know it looks like a deceased tortoise teabag holder but it was actually intended to be a deceased unicorn teabag holder. It was definitely one of my earlier attempts at pottery. Its ear also fell off in the kiln. 

Dead ceramic turtle-corn

Realising that 2020 has been traumatic enough without subjecting people to my one-eared deceased tortoise-corn teabag holder, I eventually decided on this:


The Lockdown Level 5 Family Rainbow Hope Doodle

Lockdown Level 5 Family Rainbow Hope Doodle  - Zeitz Mocaa

   Sharon, David, Angela and Quinn 
    2020
    Crayon and crazy store paint on cardboard Pep mirror packaging
    Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art

It actually wasn’t a tough decision. 

Right before lockdown, I bought a mirror for my room. It came in a really large flat cardboard box. I decided that I wanted to do some painting and instead of discarding it, I put it aside. When Corona came along and South Africa went into lockdown, I went into isolation with my brother’s family and whenever we had a creative urge we would doodle on this box. By the time we dropped from level 5 to level 4, there was no space left on it. 

Toddler and her masterpiece - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz Mocaa

I was proud of it. I thought my 18-month-old niece did an amazing job. I believed it was museum-worthy, she believed it was museum-worthy (not that she had ever actually been to a museum before), but what would other people think?

Then I remembered what I learnt in both high school fine art and university drama: If art is about anything it’s not about skill or technique, it’s about the rationale behind it. You can literally get an A, or earn the appreciation of art scholars if you can just justify why any random found object or doodle is profound. Art is art if the right people think it’s art! 

Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami - June 2018

_____________


_____________

All I needed to do was construct a carefully worded rationale explaining how the art reflects upon and creates discourse (art scholars love the word ‘discourse’) with regards to the ideologies (‘ideologies’ too) of the work’s latent gender issues (‘gender’ is almost always a contentious issue) within the context of a complex political framework (no, I don’t even know what I’m saying but it sounds good) in a postmodern world (yes, I had to work ‘postmodernism’ in there too).

But then, when I submitted it online, no rationale was requested. 

Due to its happy subject matter, its obvious lack of a profound and or contentious political statement and its abundance of hearts, bunnies and flowers, I never in a million years thought it would actually get accepted!

But it did! With what ended up as more than 1600 works of art on display, I’m going to assume everyone’s did!


Delivery Day

Family in front of Zeitz Mocaa

Some time at the beginning of October, I rounded up the family, grabbed the artwork and popped down to the Zeitz to drop it off. At least that was the plan! I ended up in a 2-hour long social-distancing queue to deliver the thing. The family abandoned me and went to get coffee but at least the other very serious amateurs in the line, dropping off their very serious masterpieces, made for great people-watching. 

When I eventually got to the front of the queue I was told I would have to present the art to someone so that they could document the condition of the work for insurance purposes. By this stage, I was tired of waiting and I was suffering from family-coffee-FOMO. 

I asked the lady if I really had to go through all this as the artwork wasn’t valuable. Surely I could just hand it to her and run away? She responded by saying that EVERY artwork exhibited in the Zeitz is valuable with a certain tone of judgey condemnation as if I had been referring to my firstborn and not a piece of cardboard that came on a R130 mirror. 

Around another corner a few more minutes later, my cardboard masterpiece was carefully placed on the ground in an area entirely covered with bubble wrap and white sheets. There, a man wearing special white gloves carefully unwrapped our art from the garbage bag I had thrown it in only because it had been raining when I left the house. (Did I mention that I also used the wrapped artwork as an umbrella to shield myself from said rain?) 

He looked at it and said, “I like this! This is what my mind looks like when I’m trying to fall asleep at night.”

He was awesome!

I took my form to the lady at the next station and he informed her of the ‘repair job’ that had been made to the one side. (Yup, I had slapped some tape on a little tear that was probably made when I ripped my mirror out of the box.)

She then informed me that although I had stated that the artwork was only valued at R100 (and I thought even that was a stretch), she would have to change that because they don’t insure anything for less than R1000.  Yup, like a toddlers Christmas present, that cardboard box was now way more valuable than its intended contents.  


Interiors of Cape Town's silo art museum Zeitz Mocaa


Visiting the Exhibition

I had never been to the museum before so I didn’t know what to expect. I had to explore all of it. While one level was devoted to the #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs exhibit, exhibitions by renowned artists took up the rest of the multileveled museum space. 

Some of the professional art consisted of work in line with what I have come to expect from a contemporary art gallery like this one:

Contemporary art - Zeitz MOCAA
(Ironically, this is not the carrot they dangled on a stick to get me here.)

Fortunately, it wasn’t all conceptual. 

Contemporary art dragon - Zeitz MOCAA

When we got to the floor that housed the #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs exhibition. It was everything I believe an art museum should be. It was filled floor to ceiling with paintings, photographs, sculptures, colour and life!

Sculptures at Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz Mocaa

There was a wide variety of media including traditional paintings, ceramics and photography, as well as: 

  • Embroidery 
Embroidery art - #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs - Zeitz Mocaa

  • Paper art
Paper art - #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs - Zeitz MOCAA

  • Video art
Video art - #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs - Zeitz MOCAA

  • Shell collages 
Shell art - #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs - Zeitz MOCAA

  • Plastic bottle tops
Bottle top Mandela  - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • This strange but interesting horseshoe web thing that depicts a person’s face. (I really hope that this was created to look this way and not a found object that eerily resembles someone who died in a mysterious horseback riding incident.)
Horse shoe art  - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • A deconstructed guitar. (Sorry musician friends, I know it hurts to look at it.)
Deconstructed guitar - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • This delightful latex and hypodermic needle creation:
Mask art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA
  • Bedazzled feminine hygiene products. (Who wouldn’t want to hang that in their dining room? What a great dinner party conversation starter!)
Tampon art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • Possibly in line with the above:
Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • This massive - probably once super expensive - Persian rug that I really hope was ruined before it was repurposed as ‘art’. (The picture really doesn’t do the scale justice!)
Persian rug - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

  • And, to complete the experience, a taxidermy hadeda (South Africa’s famous really loud raptor-like bird) …at least I hope it’s been properly taxidermied. 

Dead Hadeda - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

There were artworks that my highschool art teacher definitely would not have approved of:

Monochrome blue art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

Monochrome blue art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

Monochrome blue art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

Monochrome blue art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

And, it’s no surprise that there were many COVID-19 inspired pieces: 

COVID 19 art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

COVID 19 wave - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

COVID-19 mask art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

COVID-19 art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

If anyone’s read my bucket list, you will notice that the Museum of Bad Art is on it. Also on it is the Museum of Broken Relationships, a gallery where seemingly mundane objects that somehow played a part in, or exist as a reminder of, a relationship that fell apart are on display for all to see. I feel as though if the Zeitz MOCAA had created an exhibition devoted solely towards lockdown art, it would have been a something of a combination of both.

I didn’t leave until I had contributed to this interactive piece:

"To Live a More Fulfilling Life, I still hope..."

Interactive art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

Other people's contributions:

Interactive art - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

My contribution: 

#amquerying - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA
 (The book publishing one but I hope Muizenberg gets a Creamery too) #amquerying

And, of course, we found our family masterpiece:

#MyMOCAAfave - Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

Throughout the exhibition the art is not labelled, only numbered. A full list of the artists and titles can be found here


Why You Should go to 'The Home Is Where The Art Is' Exhibition:

While it’s nice to see a carefully curated selection of art by professional artists (who may or may not demonstrate skill or effort), there’s something quite fascinating about an exhibition of work by some professionals but mostly but some very serious amateurs, who are all connected by geographic location and the desire to create or appreciate art. I have been to many art galleries and many museums on my travels and there is something about this exhibition that is so full of life. Not only is it filled with numerous impressive works of art but what it says about the people who have created it is fascinating. Especially in a year like 2020!


When Can You See This Exhibition?

Opening hours:

The Zietz MOCAA is open Thursday - Sunday: 10:00am - 6:00pm  
The #HomeIsWhereTheArtIs exhibition was originally scheduled to run up until Jan 2021, has been extended up until 24 October 2021. (Updated Jan 2021)

Zeitz Museum Ticket Prices:

Tickets are R210 per adult (at time of posting) and children under 18 get in for free. 
For more information, see the Zeitz MOCAA website.

Home Is Where The Art Is - Zeitz MOCAA

How to Get to the Zeitz MOCAA: 

  • If you have your own transport, directions can be found here.  The entrance to the parking can be found next to the Radisson Red Hotel. Alternatively, you can park at the V&A Waterfront and explore the area on foot. 
  • If you are relying on public transport, the museum is located on the Sea Point route / Route 104 of the My City Bus
  • Alternatively, if you don't feel like travelling there at all, you could just stay there! The Zeitz MOCAA is also home to the Silo Hotel. Located in a former grain elevator, it is now one of Cape Town's most luxurious 5-star establishments. 

Silo Hotel - Zeitz MOCAA
The Silo Hotel

COVID-19 Precautions at the Zeitz MOCAA:

  • All visitors are subject to a temperature check prior to being granted access to the museum. 
  • Everyone is required to wear a facemask at all times in the museum. 
  • Visitors are encouraged to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other.
Home Is Where The Art Is - Sculpture


Other Things to do During Your Visit to the Zeitz MOCAA:

Be sure to head up to the Ocular Lounge on the rooftop to enjoy a cup of tea and the view (or cocktails and fine-dining if you're feeling fancy.) It boasts a 270-degree view of the port area, the city centre and table mountain (partially obstructed by the Silo Hotel).

There is also an outdoor courtyard with a glass floor over the central part of the museum. On a sunny day walking across it is quite daunting. ( Or so I'm told. I went on a cloudy day and couldn’t really see much.)

Zeitz MOCAA Rooftop Terrace, Cape Town
The rooftop terrace

Other Things to do in the V&A Waterfront:

The Zeitz MOCAA is located in the V&Waterfront area. In addition to a vast array of shops and restaurants, the waterfront is also home to an aquarium, a food market, the Watershed (a craft market), the Cape Wheel (a Ferris wheel), numerous boat tour operators and the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island, all in walking distance from the Zeitz MOCAA.

Zeitz MOCAA and Table Mountain, Cape Town


PS: Keep your eyes peeled for Rodrigo. 

He is hidden in there somewhere. Let me know if you find him? (Or just follow the QR code.)

Clue:  

#findRodrigo at the Zeitz MOCAA
#findrodrigo

And if you've visited the exhibition, tell us about your favourite artwork in the comments below?


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Home Is Where The Art Is - pin

Some other Sharonicles you may enjoy:

2 comments

  1. Anne-Kathrin SchernerJanuary 22, 2021 at 3:01 PM

    Hi,
    I found your blog by accident and I really love it! You described the whole process, the exhibition and everything, as I have experienced it! So special.
    I am the creator of the weird little horse shoe (and it is not in memory of anything, just a fun project/ challenge) :) and I find it so amazing that you found and featured it! Thank you! And the exhibition is now being extended till October 2021 - Yippee!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi
    I'm so glad you stumbled upon the Sharonicles. Thanks for the kind words.
    Wow, that exhibition featured so many works of art. Congratulations on creating something so memorable!
    I also had no idea it had been extended until October 2021. That's great news!

    ReplyDelete