His ambitious project to build the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art
(Zeitz MOCAA) at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has placed Jochen Zeitz firmly at the forefront of the local art scene. Now that he has announced the addition of a Costume Institute to the museum, there is little doubt that he will become equally renowned in the world of African fashion. There are several mutual benefits in the juxtaposition of fashion and art, and luxury fashion
houses such as Prada, Cartier and Louis Vuitton have invested heavily in their own art foundations.
The Zeitz MOCAA Costume Institute is based on the model of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which established its Costume Institute ,in 1946. The Met draws on its extensive fashion and accessory archive to stage annual, specially themed exhibitions. The Costume Institute at Zeitz MOCAA will take as its mandate the responsibility to purchase, collect and preserve for future generations the extraordinary contemporary fashion arts to be found in Africa and its diaspora.
Said chief curator Mark Coetzee: “All costume designers from Africa and the diaspora will be celebrated and exhibited. This institution has a mission to represent the diversity of creativity in Africa and its influence beyond our shores. The Costume Institute will position costume designers in Africa along with their peers internationally, and guarantee that their contribution is not only acknowledged but also celebrated.”
At the Zeitz MOCAA gala dinner held in Cape Town earlier this year, Coetzee announced thefirst four fashion designers to be included in the inaugural exhibitions when the museum opens in 2017. Marianne Fassler, Chris Levin, Gavin Rajah and Thula Sindi will all have their work exhibited in major retrospective exhibitions at the museum. Coetzee was inspired to add a costume section to the museum when Strauss & Co held an auction of garments from the personal archives of renowned South African fashion designer Chris Levin.
Coetzee purchased several pieces at the auction, and donated them to the ziko National Gallery in Cape Town. Levin’s exquisite work places him at the fore-front of fashion history in SA. His garments have been worn by none other than Elizabeth Taylor, and the ostrich feather cape Mhe made for her realised $30 000 (R367 159) at a Christie’s fashion auction in New York. Coetzee understood that Levin’s legacy needed to be preserved for the benefit of future generations. The new costume institute will house a climate controlled Marchive area, a research laboratory, a fashion film cinema, libraries and a resource centre.
As Coetzee says, fashion is not just clothing, but has cultural implications for society and conveys visual information about the time and place we live in. We wear clothes every day and fashion can contribute to answering questions about who we are and what we want to be. Fashion is also one of the design world’s earliest responses tothe zeitgeist of an era. Coetzee says: “The Zeitz MOCAA Costume Institute will be an important contribution to African fashion design, as it is from Africa, about Africa and for Africa.”
Jochen Zeitz has just announced the launch of a new artist residency programme at Segera, the East Africa hub of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA). Peterson Kamwathi is the first invited artist, and will spend August at Segera Retreat. “The Zeitz MOCAA Artist Residency
Programme at Segera invites artists whose work engages with identity, history, geography, landscape or discourse of the African continent.
It is an opportunity for artists to spend time in nature — a time for contemplation, research and the ability to engage with Africa not only from a metropolitan point of view. Segera offers artists in residence support so they can use their time at the retreat to work through questions in their practice without the distraction of everyday management they would usually have to deal with at home,” he said.
“An added benefit will be having qualified wildlife scientists available for consultation, engagement with surrounding communities and cultures, with the Zeitz Foundation team to support and interpret the landscape, flora and fauna. In addition, a closeness with nature amplifies pressing issues such as climate change and being responsible for ecosystem management brings value to the artists’ experience.
“Visiting Segera when an artist is in residence offers guests an extraordinary
opportunity to directly engage with the leading artists of our time. Through experiencing this inspiring environment together, including dining together, studio visits, artist’s talks and other social activities, select guests will be able to learn first-hand about the artist’s work, their research at Segera, their studio practice and the issues they are engaging with. This is a rare opportunity to be in the presence of individuals who are creating the history of art of our time.”
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