Elana Brundyn has done it again. This formidable cultural maven is as much a force of nature in the South African art world as are the many respected institutions she’s helped build, so it’s no surprise that her new endeavour, Brundyn Arts & Culture (BA&C) at Mandela Rhodes Place in Cape Town, has tongues wagging following its opening in late June.
Elana needs no introduction. She was the founding CEO of the renowned Norval Foundation, overseeing and adjudicating the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize during her tenure there while also pioneering the Norval Foundation Sculpture Garden (home to the only large-scale sculptural work by Yinka Shonibare on the continent). The annual Cape Town Art Book Fair was her idea, and Zeitz MOCAA’s Museum Programme was co-conceptualised by Elana in 2017. And this isn’t even mentioning the many boards she serves on where her indispensable advice and knowledge continues to contribute to the development of and engagement in African art both within and beyond the continent.
Brundyn Arts & Culture, in many ways, builds on the legacy that Elana has been forging for over 25 years. Not only does this new addition to the South African art ecosystem offer museum-quality physical space for art and art educational events and exhibitions, it’s also the nexus for Elana’s art advisory and consultancy services. Creative practitioners, private and public institutions, museums, galleries and collectors can benefit from her networks of knowledge, personal connections and ongoing commitment to pushing creative boundaries through BA&C’s art consultancy services.
It made perfect sense to formally open BA&C to the public through a collaborative exhibition of work that aligned with Elana’s goals of broadening our definitions of creative discourse, and visual artist and photographer Lebohang Kganye’s body of work titled Mmoloki wa mehopolo: Breaking Bread with a Wanderer, was the ideal choice. Produced over 10 years, Kganye’s exhibition includes work from 5 different projects that move deftly between fiction and reality and across different mediums to encourage us rethink our definitions of what constitutes the archive. Lebohang’s images are reconstructions of performative moments of individual and collective memory. Her life-size figures and photographs project into and onto the exhibition space, becoming part of a new story.
If an exhibition by an artist of this calibre is Elana’s opening salvo at BA&C, we can’t wait to see what else she has in store. Mmoloki wa mehopolo: Breaking Bread with a Wanderer is on until 15 October.