South South heads everywhere to shift the global art market

Lifestyle

South South heads everywhere to shift the global art market

New platform aims to redress an imbalance in the art world and provide an alternative art history

James Sey

The global art market is at last being acknowledged as big and profitable enough to be worthy of investment, based on some serious returns.

Unfortunately for us at the southern tip of Africa, most of those returns end up with the heavy hitters in the markets of Europe and the US, especially for contemporary art. African art in particular, including art from SA, the continent’s most well-resourced art industry, often ends up changing hands at auction or among dealers in those markets, leaving the works of art and the revenue out of the hands of the artists who produce it.

Grass-roots cultural activism sees the issue as requiring cultural restitution, with figures such as Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza twice arrested for museum theft in France last year in actions to recover what he considers to be looted cultural artefacts. Diyabanza is the spokesperson for pan-African group Unité Dignité Courage, which strives for the “liberation and transformation of Africa” and the restitution of African heritage. But help of a more law-abiding type may be on the way...

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