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The Mangaung Art Fair Pop-up Visual Arts Showcase

Palesa Motsumi


Launched in 2017 during the Free State Arts Festival, the Mangaung Art Fair is an inspiring artist-centred exhibition platform to showcase local talent and empower the local Art scene in the province.  The Mangaung Art Fair is spearhaeaded by Sematsatsa Library, a woman – led creative consultancy and agency.

The first pop-up was to be ‘Thabure Towering about the hill’, a photographic exhibition by Lihlumelo Toyana, a queer woman documentary photographer based in Bloemfontain.  The exhibition space was to be held at the popular Reizis Square but without financial certainty due to the lack of payment of PESP awarded funds by the NAC, the venue was lost.

A second exhibition ‘We, The People I & II’ was to feature artists Baba Tjeko and Thabiso

Phepeng, whose works depict the diversity in mark-making, inspired by the Basotho and Tswana culture. In addition to this, five young emerging artists were to be mentored by Tjeko and Phepeng.  The Wesleyan Museum had been negotiated with for hosting the mentorship workshop and the works of the five emerging artists, whereas Tjeko and Phepeng’s work was to be part of an exhibition in public spaces around the city.

The curatorial team have completed the catalogue of the exhibitions.  They have however had to cancel with venues and put artists on hold due to lack of payment of PESP funds from the NAC.  With local business and artists having acted in good faith, the reputational impact of this lack of payment and thus postponements, possible cancellation, on Sematsatsa Library, is significant.