The lily-white line-up at PE's prestigious art exhibition

2014-09-07 15:01

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It’s great news that Nelson Mandela Bay (aka Port Elizabeth) is promoting the development of art in the Eastern Cape and is expanding its prestigious annual art competition into a megacurated event.

Thirty artists have been selected to exhibit in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Biennial.

So far so good. But then you take a look at the list and you have to wonder what happened to transformation in the art world. Or rather, what didn’t.

It seems that of the 30 artists selected, 27 are white. How does this still happen in 1984? I mean, 2014.

Asked for comment, the museum’s director, MelanieHillebrand, said that entrants were nominated by fellow artists.

“Nominators were not asked to make their selection based on demographics, although this aspect was discussed by the selection panel. It surprised [us] that?...?the pool of nominations did not represent broader racial diversity.”

She said the museum is involved in numerous development projects.

Perhaps part of the problem is one of the conditions for nomination: artists must “be alumni of accredited tertiary institutions”, but our nxa is not so much for the museum as for the South African art world in general.

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