PHILLIPS: In the collection currently being presented for sale we can see a group of works that engage with a range of different traditions encompassing portraiture, craft and narrative storytelling. What are you looking for as a collector, and are there any common trends among these artists?
SERGE TIROCHE: The collection is about nurturing excellence in whatever form it takes. It’s not about a specific theme, medium, age group or any other limiting factor. There are many common narratives because the artists are practicing simultaneously and deal with the issues of our time – be they political, social or ecological. If there is a common thread it is that in my eyes all the artists in the collection have an innate talent and a fully developed personal vocabulary. They are generally young, ambitious, connected and endlessly creative.
P: How do you see the Residency fitting into the landscape of contemporary African and diaspora art? How important are opportunities like this for young, emerging artists?
ST: I think our residency, and the growing availability of residencies in general, is essential for exploration and inspiration and part of the today’s globally oriented process to personal growth as a professional artist. In some instances, the Africa First residency resulted in the first international travel opportunity for African artists and their families, and quite incredibly, a first time visiting an international museum. Such moments are immensely valuable to artists making their first steps in the art world. Meeting fellow artists, curators and collectors, and getting to know a new culture occasionally mark a turning point in the visiting artist’s practice. Furthermore, I am fortunate to have a network of collaborating institutions in Israel, so the residency often leads to further exhibitions and publications.
P: What plans do you have for the residency going forward?
ST: Like most other places, over the past 18 months our borders have been closed and it has been impossible to host visiting artists. We therefore used our facilities to lend support to local artists. Our next artist in residence is an Israeli/Ethiopian artist we hope to introduce internationally in the near future (as we did with Nirit Takele). As soon as practical, we will resume the international residency program, expanding the facilities and exhibition opportunities via local partnerships with various institutions and commercial galleries. We are proud of our graduate artists, many of whom saw their careers evolve quite rapidly since their visit. Africa First has also provided financial support to international exhibitions, publications, and prizes, and has donated works produced during the residency to major international museums. We hope to do more of that in the future.
Read more about the auction here.