The Young Artist Project (YAP) is an initiative started by the KZNSA Gallery in 2002 as a direct response to the absence of an institutional platform in KwaZulu-Natal for experimental practice. Initially the project invited four artists annually to present a first solo exhibition in the KZNSA Electric Gallery. Each artist was commissioned to present a new work or, where applicable, to realise a new component in an existing project. The motivation of YAP is to assist the artist financially in realising a concept, and to fund-raise for the covering of exhibition costs, thereby allowing the artist to remove financial concerns from the creative process. In addition to the exhibition, YAP aims to provide each participant with a catalogue of their exhibition which contextualises their work within a socio-political and art framework locally, nationally and internationally. A seminar concludes the cycle of exhibitions, where participants present their findings, and engage in discussions of their work with other curators, writers and academic researchers.
As an extension of the initial concept, the KZNSA, funding partner Pro Helvetica and dala – a local art/architecture organisation – have extend the borders and boundaries of the project and the gallery. The 2009 Young Artists Project aims to link emerging artists from countries that border South Africa in order to develop a series of interventions in public space. Four emerging creative practitioners from Lesotho (Retsepile Moholi), Botswana (Mojorosi Modisane), Mozambique (Idelio Vilanculos) and South Africa (Michele Silk) have been selected to participate in the project. These artists arrived in Durban on 16 August 2009, and will be in residency until 10 September 2009.
The purpose of this artist-in-residency programme is to develop a cross-border public dialogue on cities, space and art for social change in southern Africa. The project is aimed at developing meaningful collaboration and public participation in the practice of art for urban transformation.
The starting point for the project has been to explore the notion of intersections. Intersections are physical, conceptual, psychological and philosophical spaces where people, ideas and objects interact. Intersections mark meeting points in our cities and lives, some fleeting, others profound. The idea here is to explore the concept of intersecting spaces in southern Africa. How does our socio-political and physical environment condition these relationships? Through this discussion, how can we develop meaningful intersections that promote more humane and liveable cities?
YAP 2009 is as much about process as it is about the eventual outcome. For the purpose of this project the studio, the canvas, the gallery will be in the streets of Durban. The documentation of the process and products will be exhibited at the KZNSA. A catalogue will also be produced as a record of the process. In order to generate further public dialogue about public art for social change, a forum discussion will be organized where artists will have an opportunity to present their work to members of the public.