This is not a museum or a commercial gallery and there is no permanent art collection. Instead the new foundation envisages itself as a combination of academic research institute, and most crucially for Joburg art lovers, a platform for museum-quality exhibitions. JCAF's trustees are a trio of established local art collectors; Gordon Schachat, the Enthoven family and Phuthuma Nhleko, who have come together to create a space to share in the appreciation and promotion of South African contemporary art.
The foundation is housed in what was once a tram depot in Forest Town (near Four Seasons The Westcliff and the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre) that has been completely transformed into a soaring contemporary space. The design nods to the building's unique heritage with many elements of the original building preserved (you can even still see the old tram lines) complemented by a modern mix of industrial materials.
JCAF places a firm emphasis on technology and its use in experiencing art. None of the works on display are labelled. Instead you are invited to download the app or use one of the Ipads on offer to find out more about the artists and their works, or there is also the option of taking a walkabout with the curator which we highly recommend. Furthermore, the exhibition space boasts some of the best audio-visual technology in the city, which is put to great use in immense sound and video installations.
It is envisaged that exhibitions will change once to twice a year with a long-running theme tying exhibitions together. The inaugural exhibition, currently on display until January 30 2021, is Contemporary Female Identities in the Global South which features works by five of the most globally recognised contemporary artists from the region; Bharti Kher (India, UK); Wangechi Mutu (Kenya, USA); Nandipha Mntambo (South Africa); Shirin Neshat (Iran, USA) and Berni Searle (South Africa).
Making a visit particularly special is the experience of having the whole space to yourself. Even before Covid-19, JCAF had always envisaged that visitors would book appointments online to come and visit. Now with the rigours of social distancing in place what might have been an unusual idea is already the norm.
The foundation is open Tuesday to Saturday and appointments allow for a 1 hour 45 minute visit. You can view the calendar of available visiting days and times, and book your slot, online at www.jcaf.org.za