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Salimata Diop Image Credit: House and Leisure
Salimata Diop Image Credit: House and Leisure

Salimata Diop

One of the Visionary Curators behind Cape Town's Art Africa Fair.

Kholeka Kumalo

‘Art Africa Fair belongs to a new generation of art fairs that represent the future,’ says Salimata Diop, a Senegalese art critic and member of the curatorial team for this year’s first fully curated international art fair in Africa. ‘The aim is to present a snapshot of the creation in Africa that is faithful to reality: a greatly diverse, dynamic, fast-changing landscape, with young and talented artists as the vanguard.’

Tasked with curating the Bright Young Things (BYT) programme, a regular Art Africa magazine feature showcasing emerging artists that has turned into an international awards programme, Salimata focused on promoting committed artists who were new to the art world and in need of a generous platform. But she believes that talent alone is not enough. ‘The most important development factor is the role played by all actors of the art market: art fairs, galleries, museums, art centres, residency programmes, auction houses and even universities. They all play a part, along with the artists themselves,’ she says.

Curating BYT gave Salimata the opportunity to work in a new way, so instead of starting with the concept of building a unified narrative (typical of mos art fairs), her process involved highlighting what set each exhibited body of work apart.

As well as curating solo and group exhibitions around the world, Salimata is artistic director for the Also Known As Africa contemporary art and design fair in Paris, making her no stranger to


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