JCAF’s mandate is to advance the public’s understanding of modern and contemporary art, and to identify and collaborate with scholars and institutions globally. Germane to this is the redress of the imbalance between ourselves and the ‘Global North’ in relation to knowledge, through a fundamental questioning of who produces knowledge about the Global South, who writes its histories, who generates new knowledge about its artists and who curates its content.
At JCAF, knowledge is generated or set in motion through a structured research methodology that includes (i) a Theme – a broad subject of contemporary and historical significance (ii) an appointed Fellow who guides the research process and (iii) a Researcher.
Outputs include (i) a Workshop (ii) Salons – discursive platforms for debating and sharing ideas in response to the curatorial programming – and (iii) the publishing of the JCAF Journal to disseminate the curatorial programme and the research initiatives to the international art community through scholarly contributions, and to act as a repository of important cultural debates taking place in the Global South.
I think the future of museums will be a lot more personalised than the current one-fits-all visitor experience, with technology allowing people with different interests to each have a tailored experience.
Jim Richardson, Founder of Museum Next
By providing innovative solutions for the use of technology in museums and exhibition practice, JCAF aims to create resonant and emotional connections that provide new ways of seeing and thinking about art.
JCAF’s technology-based engagement with art aims to foster a rewarding personal encounter between the visitor and the artwork. To this end, JCAF has employed an integrated and immersive approach to the use of digital technology, in the form of a digital universe incorporating (i) online booking for visitors to the foundation (ii) a website portal (iii) an interactive touch-screen wall (iv) social media (v) an exhibitions app and (vi) a digital LAB.
The interactive touch-screen wall serves as an exploratory space, encouraging playful interaction with the knowledge developed through our programmes. As the entry point for any visitor, it sets the tone for a technologically oriented institution. Exhibitions are supported by an app that replaces traditional museological labels and allows for a participatory engagement with the artworks. The app provides contextual information on each artist and artwork while amplifying the larger curatorial narrative.
Through its various digital platforms, JCAF aims to provide a more personalised and self-curated experience for the public that foregrounds exploration and intellectual engagement.
Reflecting on current ideas and contributing to critical debates, JCAF’s remit is to reposition knowledge through curated exhibitions that engender a global understanding of modern and contemporary artistic practice. This will be achieved by presenting the artworks through a socio-historical lens, supported by supplementary archival material that contextualises the artworks for the viewer.
The following criteria inform JCAF’s curatorial framework (i) to reposition contemporary South African art globally (ii) to participate in a dialogue between local and international, modern and contemporary art (iii) to actively disrupt the dominant view of Western modernity and (iv) to present exhibitions that are scholarly and non-commercial.
JCAF curates its exhibitions according to a Theme that runs for an indeterminate period of time, and that includes a film and music programme. JCAF believes in the transforming potential of art to awaken and inspire new ideas and insights in people and society. By offering unexpected perspectives, JCAF aims to deepen the viewer’s experience of art, encourage close looking, and act as a space for contemplation and new ideas.