By Liesl Hartman, Head of Zeitz MOCAA’s Centre for Art Education

Museums are educational institutions accustomed to a specifically physical interface with our visitors. We, like many other museums, consider our gallery environment more than a workspace – it is our professional home.

Since lockdown began, we have had to examine our modes of connecting and teaching and have had to become more agile to connect with the public on various digital platforms. That said, we are currently working tirelessly to be able to welcome you back to our “home” and to celebrate the wealth of creative expression in the silo spaces we all love.

Today we need the voices of artists, thinkers, writers, and arts educators to help us examine and navigate this new world that is not only experiencing a physical pandemic, but witnessing reactions to the pandemic of racial discrimination that has for centuries divided and enraged communities across the world. Resilience, vision and the strong leadership of our institutions are surely the qualities needed for us to progress, together, at a time when fear and anxiety run high.

If we believe that creative expression and educating with the arts is central to our humanity, then we must shape our curatorial work to this uncomfortable new world that currently has more challenges than solutions.

The Centre for Art Education (CFAE) at the Zeitz MOCAA has collaborated with several service providers in arts education over the past two years. We laud their work during this time as they have shaped and transformed their teaching practices practically overnight.

The Lalela Project, The Butterfly Project and the House of Hope, all based in Cape Town, have continued to provide art materials and distribute food and sanitary products during lockdown.

Their commitment to therapeutic teaching methodologies in the arts and a belief in social upliftment through the arts have been their guiding principles. In the spirit of radical solidarity, the CFAE is providing a platform for organisations like these to share, interrogate, and shape our working methods going forward. We need to travel together.

William Kentridge’s procession images in the installation Shadow Procession (1999) take on a new and significant meaning for me as I reflect on all of us moving towards a future that we could not have imagined just a few months ago.
Like the characters in these artworks, we may find ourselves with unexpected ‘travel’ companions as we forge new relationships with people in our personal and professional lives.

We may have to learn to value things that we may not have considered important in the past and be transformed into versions of ourselves that will surprise us by learning new, unfamiliar skills and thus allowing others to see our work in a new light. As we move forward we will hear the echoes and calls for us to celebrate our new achievements, and we will have to answer.

What the past weeks have taught me is that Zeitz MOCAA has a team of strong, creative and committed staff in every department willing to do whatever is necessary to steer us through this period and who, despite the challenges, remain positive and resolute in our work as we prepare to return to our museum home.