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A rare glimpse of AfrikaBurn

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A journey that aims to bring the AfrikaBurn culture to the people of the Northern Cape.

Photograph by Simon OCallaghan of the artwork called Clan 2015, by Sutherland artist Nathan Victor Honey and the Sutherland Kuns en Ontwikkelings Projek at AfrikaBurn which forms part of the exhibition.

KIMBERLEY residents will be afforded a rare glimpse into the internationally acclaimed annual AfrikaBurn Arts Festival which takes place in the heart of the Northern Cape, during a photographic exhibition and short film, that opens at the William Humphreys Art Gallery (Whag) tonight.

Described by the organisers as a participant-created movement and social experiment in decommodification, creativity, self-reliance and radical self-expression, AfrikaBurn is a week-long event that is held annually in the Tankwa Karoo when a temporary city of art rises from the dust, attracting thousands of “participants” from every corner of the globe.

Larger-than-life, interactive artworks, that take centre stage during the event, are burnt to the ground in spectacular style towards the end of the week, symbolising birth, life and death, and the ephemeral nature of the event.

It is these artworks, as seen through the lens of photographer Simon O’Callaghan, that will form part of tonight’s exhibition. The exhibition takes excerpts from O’Callaghan’s book, entitled “Burn – Into the Flames of Burning Art” a documentary photo collection, featuring hundreds of images taken at seven AfrikaBurn events.

Accompanying O’Callaghan’s photographic exhibition is the short documentary film about AfrikaBurn, entitled “Copper Ashes” by Dewald Brand, Herman du Toit and Michael Zomer.

In 2017, the three filmmakers joined the pilgrimage to AfrikaBurn in order to shed light on the true essence of AfrikaBurn. Integrating themselves and listening to the stories of their peers “whistling in the wind”, they attempted to encapsulate the magnitude of the gathering. A gift to the attendees and a glimpse of the glory for those whom have yet to experience AfrikaBurn, the film was the result of their pilgrimage.

Both these projects form part of AfrikaBurn’s “Blank Canvas Express” . . . a journey that aims to bring the AfrikaBurn culture to the people of the Northern Cape.

Since inception, AfrikaBurn has enjoyed rapid growth, both the size of the event and in terms of the visibility it has generated nationally and internationally. It has created a reputation for innovative, mold-breaking works and invigorating the creative economy. The Blank Canvas Express is an attempt at a deeper engagement into the ethos of the organisation its activities, creative processes and the sheer hard work, dedication and determination that goes into inventing the world anew.

The Blank Canvas Express will co-create experiences in different towns across the Province over the next few month.

Another art exhibition, running alongside the AfrikaBurn exhibition and also opening at Whag tonight, is the 2018 Northern Cape Visual Artists Exhibition.

The exhibition features several artworks, including drawings, paintings and sculptures, selected from submissions submitted by artists from across the Northern Cape.

Anna Stewart, from Whag, yesterday said that 2018 saw a record number of submissions and the works included in the exhibition showcase the raw talent artists from the Province has to offer.

The Northern Cape Visual Artists Exhibition aims to showcase and promote the Province’s home-grown talent and include works in a wide variety of mediums, from as far as Upington and Calvinia.

Both the exhibitions will be opened at 6.30 pm by the Director of the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, Sunet Swanepoel. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

– Norma Wildenboer