I founded ANON. in 2019, inspired to create an art platform and community that was inclusive and celebratory of local artists, while engaging both artists and viewers on difficult and important, socially relevant topics. The original format was a pop-up gallery concept promoted with a high-volume social media blast and digital content on every participating artist.
At the time, I recognised a gap for a local art platform that was anti the traditional mode of white-box gallery that had its own reputation for being exclusionary, elitist, and a bit who’s who. And so I launched the platform, in February 2019, with a debut pop up art show in Cape Town, that featured over 30 artists and 120 original artworks.
The name ANON. was inspired by the Virginia Woolf quote:
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”
The inaugural exhibition showcased art by a variety of artists, including prominent South African artists, photojournalists and emerging artists, across mediums – including painting, drawing, illustration, photography, ceramics, embroidery, poetry and live performance. Headlining artists include Zanele Muholi, Kilmany-Jo Liversage, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Danielle Clough, Laura Wenman and Lindeka Qampi.
Speaking to its ethos of inclusivity, ANON. is about giving a voice to the voiceless, a name to the unnamed. From the beginning I have also centred exhibition themes around gender and it’s been about expressing female identity in all its complexity, having a conversation around female artistic expression as well as how women are represented in art, encouraging creativity in women, and prompting dialogue around gender – whether it be gender identity or fluidity, breaking stereotypes or reinforcing gender roles. All opinions have their place.
ANON. is also about the power of art to create empathy and dialogue, with art activism as a powerful format for encouraging social change and shifting collective consciousness around important ideas.
The second exhibition, entitled Rise, was triggered by the gender-based violence protests in Cape Town in September 2019, which happened as a result of the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana and many other women and girls at the time. As a response to the protests I brought together artists, protestors and activists into an exhibition space which showcased protest art, photography, poetry and many of the original protest posters and photographs from the marches in Cape Town at the time. Featured artists included Grace Cross, Nicky Newman, Carin Bester, N.D. Mazin, Kilmany-Jo Liversage, Lindeka Qampi, Pony of the Sea and Mariette Momberg.
After a first pop-up held in Salt River in October, kindly supported by the wonderful Tammi Glick of Dale Glen Property and the Maitland Art Institute, I then had further interest to travel the exhibition to a second venue in Cape Town for three months in 2020, which then also led to an invitation to take part in an artists panel for the Salonfestival in Cape Town and later an online webinar / panel held on 10and5.com.