New Photography Exhibition “Looking Back” opens at Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion at V&A Waterfront

Category Zeitz MOCAA Exhibitions
Published on 23 August 2017

Exhibition title: Looking Back
Curator: Mark Coetzee (Executive Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA)
Dates: 23 June – 12 October 2014 / Wednesday to Sunday: 12:00 – 20:00
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Venue: Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) Pavilion, Bascule Bridge, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cost: Free for all

LOOKING BACK presents works of three artists in the permanent collection of Zeitz MOCAA: Zanele Muholi (Born 1972, South Africa); Andrew Putter (Born 1965, South Africa); and Yinka Shonibare, MBE (Born 1962, United Kingdom).

This exhibition considers the gaze in contemporary photography both towards history and the responsibility of the viewer.

This exhibition is situated in a purposed environment that suggests memories of both period and modernist interiors. Soundtracks by Zanele Muholi and Yinka Shonibare permeate the galleries. From both ends of the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion, we hear desperate cries of loss and longing.

Theorists such as John Berger, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jean-Paul Satre, have clearly severed the possibility of any anonymity in seeing. We now understand that we do not simply look at something. Our gaze is returned and through this relationship of “viewing” and “being viewed” we become acutely aware that a process of LOOKING BACK happens.

We see ourselves reflected in that which we observe. We are now conscious of the impossibility of any neutrality in looking, but rather we see through lenses of prejudgment informed by religious conviction, gender, orientation, ethics, morality, economics, superstition, culture and even fear. Being aware that as we look, we ourselves are observed creates a state of anxiousness. We begin to recognize our responsibilities in the act of looking both at the present time but also at history itself.

Theories of looking have now delivered a new challenge. If the gaze is implicated in power relationships and even knowledge itself, what opportunities do we have to look in a more democratic way? A more responsible way?

LOOKING BACK challenges us to consider why we gaze the way we do? What are the outcomes of the way we gaze? Can our gaze happen in a way that does not violate something that is different to us, that is unfamiliar or that we do not understand?

Editors’ Notes
Media contact Carla White Launch and Director of Communication, Zeitz MOCAA Email:

Images and additional information

About Zeitz MOCAA

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for- profit cultural institution that focuses on collecting, preserving, researching, and exhibiting cutting edge contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. It is the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art. Zeitz MOCAA was established in 2013 through a partnership of the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz and is generously funded by Growthpoint Properties, Jochen Zeitz, Public Investment Corporation (PIC) acting on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), V&A Waterfront, and Zeitz Collection. The Zeitz Collection acts as the founding collection of the museum. Mark Coetzee is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Zeitz MOCAA. Zeitz MOCAA is housed at the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion by the Bascule Bridge, V&A Waterfront. In 2016, Zeitz MOCAA will open in the transformed heritage listed Silo building, repurposed through a design by Heatherwick Studio, in the Clock Tower/Silo District of the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

About the V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is a 123-hectare, mixed-use destination, and one of Africa’s most visited cultural and historical hubs.

Set on the edge of a natural, historic working harbour with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, it offers local and international visitors a cosmopolitan mix of experiences ranging from leisure, shopping and exclusive entertainment. It also offers prime residential and commercial property. The prime positioning of the V&A boasts sweeping views of the ocean, city bowl and mountain peaks. Up to 100 000 people visit every day during peak season.

Contributing R198 billion to the South African economy over the last ten years, the V&A Waterfront’s cumulative contribution to the provincial GGP since 2002 was over R173bn. Of the total visitors to the V&A, 55% are Capetonians, 19% are South African and 26% are international.

With 22 official landmarks on-site, it is also part of South Africa’s historical legacy. Jointly owned by Growthpoint Properties Limited and the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), represented by the Public Investment Corporation Limited (PIC), the V&A Waterfront was developed in 1988 by the state-owned transport corporation, Transnet Limited, while official commercial trading commenced in November 1990.

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Zeitz Collection

The Zeitz Collection was founded, in 2002, by business entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz and is one of the most representative collections of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. Its mandate is to collect and preserve contemporary cultural artifacts of Africa. The Zeitz Collection is held and exhibited in spaces such as Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, USA and through an extensive presentation of art at Segera Retreat in Kenya.

The Zeitz Collection collaborates on an ongoing basis with the Zeitz Foundation for Intercultural Ecosphere Safety. As part of the 4Cs philosophy (Conservation, Community, Culture, Commerce) the Zeitz Foundation supports creative activities that strengthen intercultural relationships and understanding, and raise awareness of cultural diversity, and inspires others to act in kind.

The Zeitz Collection curator, Mark Coetzee, acts as the cultural specialist for the Zeitz Foundation. Both organizations collaborate on cultural outcomes at the Foundation headquarters based at Segera, Kenya and globally.

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Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion is situated at the V&A Waterfront by the Bascule Bridge near the Cape Grace and is open from noon to 8 PM, every Wednesday to Sunday, with free admission for all. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion presents changing exhibitions, educational programmes and events over a three year period, until the opening of Zeitz MOCAA in the Grain Silo.