South South is a new online platform devoted to art from the Global South and its diaspora, bringing together over 50 galleries spread across five continents.

Spearheaded by the dealer Liza Essers, owner and director of Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg/Cape Town/London) and in partnership with a gallery consortium that includes leading gallerists from Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Mexico City, Kampala and Tokyo, among other places, the initiative was born out of a critical need to strengthen south-south collaborations that have previously existed out of plain sight.

Image of Diana Fon seca’s artwork Untitled (from the “Dedgradación series) , 2020, paint taken from the facades of buildings in Havana on wood
Diana Fonseca, Untitled (from the “Dedgradación series), 2020

The year-long project launches with South South Veza (23 February – 7 March), consisting of an invitation-only selling event powered by auction technology, a peer-led online viewing room (OVR), and an archive-in-progress. Further elements include Institutional Hybridity, a talks programme curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of London gallery The Showroom; a film programme curated by Rodrigo Moura, chief curator of El Museo del Barrio in New York; and an exhibition titled KIXIMBI: meditations on the middle passage and other Atlantic phantoms, curated by architect Paula Nascimento and writer Suzana Sousa.

KIXIMBI takes the seas of the South Atlantic as a point of departure to explore the forced movement of people across continents historically and at the present, as manifested in contemporary artworks. Featuring artists including Francisco Vidal, Aline Motta, António Ole, Dalton Paula, Yinka Shonibare and Buhlebezwe Siwani, the exhibition brings together ‘artists of the Global South and its diaspora that are part of different geographies who exist in their own contexts and carry a collective memory present in their practices and identities which resonates directly and sometimes indirectly to the African continent.’

Image of Yinka Shonibare CBE’s artwork, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle , 2009
Yinka Shonibare CBE, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, 2009
Image of artwork by Dalton Paula entitled Reisado, 2009

Dalton Paula, Reisado, 2009

Nascimento and Souza add, ‘we do not think of “the diaspora” as an isolated space (or people) but rather, consider how a sea such as the Atlantic serves as as an important link in the relations between the continent and the distinct but similar cultures that exist elsewhere; both in terms of the religion (African religions as well, as for instance the orishas and the gods of the sea), but also in terms of sea mythologies, the people who died during the Middle passage and the ones who continue to die today crossing to Europe.’

In a move to actively counter the limited financial support available to not-for-profits in the region, the auction will forego buyer’s premiums, and 20 per cent donations from sales will go to support the critical work carried out by local organisations including Raw Projects in Dakar, Green Papaya in Manila and Casa do Povo in São Paulo.

Image of an artwork by Cassi Namoda entitled, “Lovers with ardent desires and strong will face obstacles along the way, safety in new lands are few and far between”
Cassi Namoda, Lovers with ardent desires and strong will face obstacles along the way, safety in new lands are few and far between, Cyclone Eloise, 2021 a dedication to all those who have been impacted by climate change in Mozambique and it’s neighbours, 2021

South South is timely and necessary in its addressing of art world imbalances and promotion of fairer value systems centered on community, collaboration and exchange that counter challenges faced by artists of the Global South and its diaspora both in their local contexts and globally. §