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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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