On ethics and good practice: an open discussion to be had in Africa / EYONART / by Christine Eyene

n Thursday 17 May 2018, South African writer and former Artthrob editor Matthew Blackman published an article announcing that an inquiry was being launched into the professional conduct of Mark Coetzee, the former executive director and chief curator of Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. The article speaks of “unconfirmed rumours” of “abuses of power” of an unknown nature and that “although several people at the museum and Waterfront have been asked for comment none has been forthcoming.” It also mentions that the museum had received very little criticism, despite “questionable institutional and curatorial practices”.

As far as I know, Blackman is probably the only South African observer to have clearly and publicly voiced his concerns about the museum’s governance. He did so in An Open Letter to Jochen Zeitz and Mark Coetzee in 2015, more than two years before the museum opened its doors. The letter is also mentioned by South African art critic Sean O’Toole in a recent article on Coetzee’s resignation, published in Contemporary And (C&), in which he observes that no one ever responded to the points raised by Blackman.

When the open letter was published in 2015, the comment section included remarks by a user named “Karl Max” who suggested Blackman interviewed Raphael Chikukwa now deputy director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and myself, since we were both collaborators of Coetzee between 2009 and 2010. I was never approached by Blackman but had I been at the time, I would probably have refused to comment on the matter. Just like I declined several opportunities from the press to share my views on the museum as it opened to great international acclaim last year. I always felt that the criticism should come from South African art critics and curators, not from me. ….

To read the full article, please go to the direct link.