Collaborations are increasingly becoming the solution to many of the pandemic constraints that the art world has been facing. South-South is one such new initiative, which seeks to build a digital platform for galleries in the Global South. Liza Essers, Director of Goodman Gallery (in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and London), conceived it as a curatorial initiative from her gallery in 2015. She extended the idea to its digital presence during the pandemic by collaborating with other gallerists, including Shireen Gandhy of Mumbai’s Chemould Prescott Road.
The term South-South has its origins in policymaking and academics to indicate the exchange of resources, knowledge, and technology among developing countries with an aim to shift the international balance of power. When applied to art, South-South bears the promise of similar exchanges, while simultaneously drawing attention to artists and galleries beyond the established art centres in Europe and America.
On February 23, South-South launched its inaugural programme, Veza, which means “to show/produce” in Zulu. The commercial and curatorial programme features more than 50 galleries, including Chemould Prescott Road, Experimenter, and Jhaveri Contemporary from India. Gandhy, who runs Chemould Prescott Road, hopes that Veza will shift conversations away from a Eurocentric model to the Global South, especially in the context of international art fairs. Galleries have been invited to participate in Veza based on their programming, she adds. Even if galleries are based out of Europe, a major chunk of artists they represent are from the Global South.
Chemould Prescott Road has works by Desmond Lazaro, Mithu Sen and Lavanya Mani for sale, among others, in the online viewing rooms (OVRs). Experimenter is showcasing Prabhakar Pachpute and Sohrab Hura. The presentation revolves around the politics of labour in the Indian subcontinent and “confronts the viewers with questions on disenfranchisement, inequality and justice”, according to the gallery’s statement. Jhaveri Contemporary’s OVR has a selection of hand-tinted photographs by Vasantha Yoganathan based on interpretations of The Ramayana. “South South will be a repository for as long as it can go on. The possibilities are many,” Gandhy adds.
In addition to Veza, South South hosts an archive documenting important events from the Global South and an editorial component. The website states that with Veza, the initiative presents “a more holistic world–view of contemporary art”. Veza had an online vernissage with a live auction by galleries and bidding was also possible on South South’s app. Apart from this, galleries have their ongoing online sales, a percentage of which will support non–profit partners. The programming includes collector talks, keynote conversations and think-tanks on topics that consider a post–Covid art world and new methods of documentation. Among them, visitors may want to watch out for a conversation with noted South African artist William Kentridge, who is represented by Goodman Gallery, on February 28.
South South Veza runs till March 7. Log on to https://south-south.art/south-south-veza/