On Monday night, thieves broke into the exhibition space at Greatmore and made off with computer equipment (and incidentally, several video and sound artpieces – though this wasn’t necessarily intentional). The African Time exhibition that we all worked so hard on had to be closed.
I will confess that I have a somewhat unhealthy love affair (unhealthy for someone working in my field) with films about art thefts and jewel heists (How to Steal a Million, To Catch a Thief, The Italian Job, The Thomas Crown Affair – originals and remakes). But of course the reality is far less glamorous and far more frustrating.
Here’s the piece I wrote about African Time:
Train delayed. Meeting starts an hour late. Electrician tells you your phone will be fixed ‘now now’. People nod their heads sagely and say ‘that’s African Time’.
There is a perception that Africans have a loose relationship with time. So much so that ‘African Time’ has become a synonym for being late. But is there more to it than that? What if it is Western concepts of timekeeping and timetables that hinder, while African Time frees us from constraints?
In the first resident curatorship at Greatmore Studios, curator Yvette Dunn brings together a dynamic collective of artists to unpick the concept of African Time. What emerges from the exchange is the sense that African Time is the time in between: in between and outside clocks, diaries, calendars, alarms, schedules and the other ways we measure out our days.
John Lennon said ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. African Time represents the space created for the really important things in life - the life that happens to you regardless of the day-to-day routine.
The 13 artists participating in African Time play with elements such as ‘Stop’, ‘Rewind’ and ‘Fast-forward’ to challenge visitors to the exhibition to step outside the boundaries of linear timekeeping and observe for themselves what happens when they become immersed in African Time.
Exchange between artists is an integral part of the exhibition. South African artists are joined by artists from Scotland, Portugal, Mexico and Germany; each exploring different interpretations of time. Though each artist has a different perspective, the works are united by their willingness to explore the free space – both physical and metaphorical - created by African Time.Greatmore Studios has established the programme of resident curatorships to maximise the potential of its new exhibition space – but more, to build on its unique role as a conduit between different sections of the Capetonian art world. The ongoing exhibitions programme will challenge and experiment, with thought-provoking curated exhibitions acting as the starting point for dialogue.