It all began in November 2009, with a “once only/once in a lifetime” invitation from a friend working on a film in Zimbabwe to visit Africa and side-perk of giving a lecture at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare, about my doctoral research. My vision was firmly on developing my career as an art critic, academic and curator with projects in Europe and Australia. Life, however, has a way of placing us in situations where our principles become a call to action and in my case, shifted me from position of a dispassionate art critic and observer into an activist.
Factor into this the impossibility of access to “live” contemporary or historical art (money to travel and difficulty of obtaining visas); difficulty of virtual access to art and art opportunities due to difficulty of access to internet and computers (money, money and money); and finally enormous shortages in educational resources both at practical and theoretical levels. All this results in entrapment of the artists in the chains of poverty, ignorance and bad taste and non-art motivations of their main NGO clients. The few escapees I encountered in 2009 have all been aided by personal contacts and access to some education abroad but for the majority, this is more than a pipe dream.
Meeting more artists during my first visit, I learned that there was also simply a lack of space for experimentation. There were no artist-run spaces in Harare and to be honest, in all of Zimbabwe. The pain of the situation was for me exacerbated by the fact that I met some genuinely earnest and eager voices with ideas that had the potential for flowering if only the opportunities were there. So when one evening over a dinner conversation, Marcus Gora a young music executive suggested, “Well, I don’t know if this can help, but in our office downtown, we have a spare room next to the tailor’s workshop, if you want you can come and take a look,” I jumped at the opportunity.
Since 2019 | Harare.zw, EMERGING PAINTING INTERNATIONAL Prize
Since 2016 | Harare.zw, EMERGING AFRICAN ART GALLERIES ASSOCIATION, Chair
Since 2015 | Cape Town.za, ART AFRICA, Editor-at-large
Since 2009 | Harare.zw, FIRST FLOOR GALLERY, Director
Since 2008 | Paris.fr, University of Paris, Doctorate/PhD studies on art history, cultural policy, and cultural economics
2007 | Sydney.au, University of Sydney, Master of Art History and Theory
1992 | Melbourne.au, University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Laws
1992 | Melbourne.au, University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Economics
Lives and works in Harare.zw
Educated in Australia
Born in Minsk.ru
Valerie Kabov. INVESTEC Cape Town Art Fair. Cape Town.za 2018.
. Valerie Kabov in conversation with Candice Breitz and Zanele Muholi: Do Artists Need to Leave Africa to be Successful? ART BASEL Conversations 2017.