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Meet the Powerhouse Women of LATITUDES Art Fair

South Africa’s exciting new celebration of creativity, the LATITUDES Art Fair, promises to make the continent’s art more accessible.

LATITUDES Art Fair | House and Leisure
‘Rahel’ (2019) by Sungi Mlengeya.

September is art month in Johannesburg and the new LATITUDES Art Fair is one of the events we’re most looking forward to experiencing during this thrilling time in the annual arts calendar.

The debut edition of this ‘new fair for African art in international times’ will take place in a specially designed glass pavilion in Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square and will see an exciting mix of South African, African and international galleries coming together to celebrate the best in African art right now. 

Visitors can expect exciting offerings from established names in South African art, such as Artist Proof Studio, Warren Siebrits and The Artists’ Press, as well as a variety of cutting-edge local galleries including Kalashnikovv Gallery, Ebony/Curated, Guns + Rain and TMRW Gallery.

William Kentridge’s groundbreaking Centre For The Less Good Idea will also have a presence at the new event. 

LATITUDES Art Fair | House and Leisure
Kimathi Mafafo’s ‘Transcendent II’ (2019).

African galleries including Arte de Gema from Mozambique, This Is Not a White Cube from Angola, First Floor Gallery from Zimbabwe and Afriart Gallery from Uganda are bringing the continent to the country.

Joining them will be international galleries specialising in art from Africa, like Norway’s Weekend Server, Spain’s Suburbia Contemporary, Gallery Tiny from the United States and ArtCo from Germany. 

LATITUDES Art Fair | House and Leisure
‘Selfie’ (2017), by Cristiano Mangovo.

The event, which takes place during the weekend of 13-15 September, has been realised by a pioneering group of art-world women, who each bring something of their unique past experience to this new chapter in South African art.

Curator and art entrepreneur Lucy MacGarry is LATITUDES Art Fair’s executive director, art advisor Makgati Molebatsi is the fair’s business development director, curator and writer Anthea Buys will creatively direct the event, media specialist Nokwazi Zimu will head up the VIP Programme, and writer and events curator Roberta Coci is the fair’s experience director.

LATITUDES Art Fair | House and Leisure
From left: Makgati Molebatsi, Lucy MacGarry, Roberta Coci and Nokwazi Zimu.

We caught up with the LATITUDES Art Fair team to find out more: 

Why do you think Johannesburg, and South Africa, needs another art fair? 

Lucy MacGarry: By coming together as an arts community to increase our cultural offering, we have greater potential to define Joburg as an international destination and ‘cool capital of the southern hemisphere'. After all, we have galleries, artist studios, museums and markets to rival any in the world. Ventures such as LATITUDES can only strengthen the industry by providing another platform for audiences to access the visual arts and for artists to find much-needed exposure. We look forward to the city embracing our fair alongside the many other exciting events on the calendar during September's art week.

Makgati Molebatsi: To expand the market and provide more choice during the weekend of the bigger art fair. Satellite art fairs create a buzz and excitement and increase awareness around art when there is more than one art fair in one weekend. This has happened in major cities with art fairs. 

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What will a female-run art fair do differently from the others? 

Nokwazi Zimu: What LATITUDES intends to do isn't necessarily because it’s being led by women, but is simply a reaction to the current art-fair space in South Africa and across the globe. African contemporary artists are not as well represented as they could be – great talent remains unknown. Furthermore, many people in Africa, particularly South Africa, would love to start collecting, yet feel intimidated by the space, so our mission is to be inclusive and show these individuals that there are ways of accessing art in a more affordable way, and that platforms like LATITUDES Art Fair are an avenue to do so. Also, as a women-led fair, our promises are not in vain. Women have shown, in just about every business study conducted in the world, that a promise by a woman is a fulfilled one. So if we say we will do this, rest assured it will be done. Perhaps not at the level we would like to achieve in our first year, but we aim to get there with time. 

How did you come up with the name LATITUDES?

Roberta Coci: The aim of LATITUDES Art Fair is to be more inclusive and to bring a fresh approach to the traditional art-fair model. We gravitated towards the name LATITUDES, not only because of its geographic connotations, but also because of the adjectival definition, being freedom from normal restraints, limitations or regulations.

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What are you excited about at LATITUDES 2019? 

Makgati Molebatsi: I am excited about the platform for independent unrepresented artists. 

Lucy MacGarry: We have an exciting group of galleries participating in our project called Spotlight. We’ve introduced Spotlight as a curated selection of artists from Africa and the diaspora whose work is unknown or under-represented outside of the regional contexts in which they or their galleries operate. Each artist is presented through a concise feature showcasing three works. Curatorially, the Spotlight section allows a conversation between different artistic practices while giving due spatial specificity to each installation. Practically, this platform allows African galleries to explore relationships with the South African market without taking on the financial risk of a full exhibition stand at LATITUDES Art Fair. 

Nokwazi Zimu: The Independent show [a curated exhibition of early-career artists with no gallery representation]. It is here that raw, undiscovered talent will be found. And I’m excited to see it unfold.

Roberta Coci: Not so much a project, but I am excited that we will be bringing an art fair to an unconventional and very public location. Having it in a glass-sided marquee on Nelson Mandela Square is going to result in something quite fresh, unexpected and different.

The debut LATITUDES Art Fair will take place at Nelson Mandela Square from 13 to 15 September 2019. For more about this exciting event, head to their website

House and Leisure is giving away 10 pairs of tickets to LATITUDES Art Fair, including a set of VIP tickets and tickets to the exclusive VIP Daytona party, valued at a total of over R12000. To enter, click here.

*Competition applicable to residents in Gauteng province who are 18 years of age and older. Additional Ts&Cs are available here.

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