HAVING now been billed as a “gateway” to the National Arts Festival, Nelson Mandela Bay was officially incorporated into the fest’s Fringe programme last night, much to the delight of the city’s arts fraternity.
A well turned out who’s who of Nelson Mandela Bay’s arts world gathered for the event, the culmination of a partnership initiative that will see the city serving as an extension of the Grahamstown fest for festinos who use the Bay as an entry and exit point for their visit.
Held at the historic and thoroughly revamped Athenaeum building in Central, the occasion was also the opening of internationally acclaimed photographer Roger Ballen’s Playpen exhibition.
In his keynote address, the festival’s artistic director Ismail Mahomed – who officially opened the programme to the public – referred to the string of household names that populated the Bay’s rich gallery of performing and visual artists across a range of genres.
“During our dark past and even now in our constitutional democracy, the arts continue to remain one of the most dynamic vehicles for the expression of human rights issues.”
Highlighting how young people are able to find opportunity for dialogue through the arts, Mahomed also said the nation defined itself by the way it made its art and expressed its culture.
“When artists create and exhibit their work, they attempt to engage us in a dialogue. Their work informs, educates, provokes and challenges us.
“More than that, the dialogue generated through their work helps to heal us.”
Playpen is a selection of work which spans Ballen’s career from 1979 to 2011. An NMMU photographic exhibition is also currently being hosted at the Athenaeum.