The 2020 edition of the RMB Turbine Art Fair (RMB TAF) closes on 2 September, and for the first time in its history was conducted as an online event to creatively combat the changes caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
One major feature of the fair was the special sale of two unique print series by the doyen of South African contemporary artists William Kentridge. Both editions were created in collaboration with the Artist Proof Studio (APS), a well-known Johannesburg-based art printing centre of excellence which is responsible for much community development and capacity building in the country’s creative economy.
The first print series is entitled ‘Weigh all tears’, which features that phrase printed in striking lapis lazuli pigment against a background of book pages. The phrase itself, as Kentridge explains, is taken from a poem by Rilke, and is one of many such resonant sayings that he collects. The proceeds from the sales of 20 of these signed digital prints at RMB TAF go to the Vulnerable Artist Fund, set up to provide some succour and assistance to many artists whose means of making a living has been severely impacted due to the pandemic, and who have no other recourse to socio-economic assistance. Though only 20 were on sale at RMB TAF, the whole edition runs to 75, and more signed prints will be available through APS, to sustain a flow of income to vulnerable artists.
The second print edition is a still life, signed, limited edition coffee-lift etching, ‘Roses in a glass’, printed at APS. Again, 20 of these were on offer at RMB TAF, with proceeds going to the groundbreaking and vital development programme run by APS, which provides young artists with life skills and direction. In Kentridge’s view, it is the arts expressed by people like this that will provide our deeper, longer-term understanding of the trauma that people have gone through during the pandemic, rather than the statistical voices of the science most of us listen to at the moment.
Remarkably, and gratifyingly, both editions of prints on offer at the fair have completely sold out. Comments Kim Berman, founding director of APS, ‘We are humbled and grateful for the public response to these fundraising efforts. It demonstrates the common humanity that art touches in all of us in tough times. The money raised will go towards keeping our country’s artistic and cultural identity alive, and enables us to continue to be part of that at APS.’