The lecture was delivered by someone representing a dialogue with the “global south” (as per the term on the invitation) — Indian-born, US-based academic Arjun Appadurai — that was intended to shift the focus of the opening to “ideas”, says Kellner.
“There is little good intellectual discourse between South Africa and the global south,” he says.
The former director of the Joburg Art Gallery is clearly keen to mould JCAF into a serious public institution, where the focus is on the art and research, rather than fluffing the egos of collectors, art patrons, and even artists. The Zeitz Mocaa, under former director Mark Coetzee, came under heavy criticism for the lack of scholarship and research underpinning its exhibition and public programming.
The JCAF was introduced first through a glossy, slick, and very considered brochure that was couriered to each person invited to the lecture. In it, there is no mention that this foundation has anything to do with its overly shy patron and the co-founder of African Bank investments, Schachat, or is directed by Kellner. As such, it steers attention away from the white, male identities driving the institution. An emphasis is placed on the methodology driving the curatorial programme, which is said to spring from an appointed research fellow, and concluding with workshops, discussions, and then the publication of a journal capturing the dialogues and insights provoked by the exhibition and collateral activities.
In his opening address, Kellner expressed concern with the way in which art is consumed.