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FEATURE / EMMA JORDAN







                                                                                                                                                                JOBURG





                                                                                                                                                                ART FAIR








                                                                                                                                                                Joburg Art Fair comes of

                                                                                                                                                                age as it celebrates it's first

                                                                                                                                                                decade with Africa's biggest

                                                                                                                                                                and best art event to date.



          The idea of

                                                                                                                                                                                                       This idea of making art accessible is
          making art                                                                                                                                                 ight years ago I had just arrived in     the core of the Artlogic manifesto. In March
                                                                                                                                                                     Joburg and a friend invited me to
                                                                                                                                                                                                     2008 the Joburg Art Fair opened with 27
                                                                                                                                                                     a party at the then super-trendy
          accessible is                                                                                                                                        EMonarch hotel. At the time, it       galleries. Held at the Sandton Convention
                                                                                                                                                                had recently undergone a million rand
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Centre, the mandate was not just about
                                                                                                                                                                                                     creating a central commercial space to
                                                                                                                                                                refurbishment and was the place to party in
          the core of                                                                                                                                           the city. We had a great time and although I   showcase African art, it was also about
                                                                                                                                                                                                     making the art easily accessible to the
                                                                                                                                                                faintly remember the art on the walls – the
                                                                                                                                                                                                     general public. This at a time when big fairs
                                                                                                                                                                Monarch was at the forefront of supporting
          the Artlogic                                                                                                                                          local South African artists, displaying an   were taking off globally – Frieze in London,
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Art Basel in Switzerland and the Armory
                                                                                                                                                                enviable owners' collection – the party
          manifesto.                                                                                                                                            itself was more a celebration of all the   in New York. It was important the fair was
                                                                                                                                                                greats of Joburg: stylists, editors, gallerists
                                                                                                                                                                                                     positioned as a 'happening', go-to-event,
                                                                                                                                                                and investors sipped martinis and danced
                                                                                                                                                                                                     greasing Joburg's marketing and media
                                                                                                                                                                well into the early hours of the morning.   wheel to get the masses interested and by
                                                                                                                                                                   We were there at the invitation of Ross   proxy, the coffers filling. The year following
                                                                                                                                                                Douglas, the former CEO and founder of   the Monarch party, the Joburg Art Fair
                                                                                                                                                                Artlogic, the events company that was   opening night was held at the Sandton
                                                                                                                                                                redefining South Africa's artscape. With   Convention Centre, and with a champagne
                                                                                                                                                                a history in nature documentaries, Ross   sponsor, it instantly became, and continues
                                                                                                                                                                made the leap into art when he worked on   to be, the must-go-to event of the year.
                                                                                                                                                                an event with William Kentridge, showing      Seeing the value of art as investment
                                                                                                                                                                the artist's groundbreaking '9 Drawings for   FNB came onboard as the headline
                                                                                                                                                                Projection' at venues across the world. The   sponsor. At the time, in 2008, the then
                                                                                                                                                                artwork, a series of nine short animated   CEO of Financial Investments Robert Keip
                                                                                                                                                                films made between 1989 and 2003, trace   said: “Art is big business all over the world
                                                                                                                                                                the public and private life of Soho Eckstein,   – but less so here and we hope the Fair
                                                                                                                                                                Kentridge's protagonist. Eckstein is a mine   will offer South Africans an opportunity to
                                                                                                                                                                owner, land developer, and cuckold, whose   participate in the art market”.
                                                                                                                                                                life is set against the ever-changing social      Ten years later the FNB Joburg Art
                                                                                                                                                                and political realities of South Africa. Today   Fair has grown. In 2016 almost thirteen
                                                                                                                                                                the piece is owned by New York's Museum   thousand visitors viewed the best of
                                                                                                                                                                of Modern Art (MOMA). Then, in 2005,   African art, and, astoundingly R43million
                                                                                                                                                                Douglas was instrumental in moving the   worth of art sales took place over the three
                                                                                                                                                                artwork into the public sphere – curating an   days. Eighty-plus exhibitors signed up from
                                                                                                                                                                event that showed the films in New York's   over 17 countries. Whatever Kiep said in
                                                                                                                                                                Central Park, London's Barbican and at the   2008, today, African art is definitely big
                                                                                                                                                                Guggenheim in Berlin.                business on the continent and abroad.

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