Zeitz Museum boss quits amid disciplinary inquiry

17 May 2018 - 09:43 By Claire Keeton
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.
Image: Iwan Baan

The boss of the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town has quit after being suspended.

Chief curator and executive director Mark Coetzee was suspended on Wednesday‚ the museum trustees announced. Trustees spokeswoman Tamra Capstick-Dale said: “An inquiry into Mr Coetzee’s professional conduct has been initiated by the trustees. Mr Coetzee has since tendered his resignation.

“In the interim‚ the trustees of Zeitz MOCAA have asked Azu Nwagbogu to assume the role of director and chief curator. Azu is currently adjunct curator with Zeitz MOCAA.”

The museum at the V&A Waterfront‚ which opened last September‚ has the biggest collection of contemporary African art on the continent and the building‚ carved out of historic concrete grain silos‚ is a staggering artistic feat on its own.

ArtThrob‚ SA’s leading contemporary visual arts publication‚ reported that Coetzee had failed to respond to its questions about institutional and curatorial practices at what has been dubbed “the Tate Modern of Africa”.

“Instead he simply replied to an e-mail stating that the questions sent to him ‘seemed quite far removed from the reality of how the museum functions’‚” the publication said online.

He had not replied to its attempts to reach him for comment about the latest developments.

The founding collection of the museum included works by Nandipha Mntambo‚ Mohau Modisakeng‚ Athi-Patra Ruga‚ Jody Paulsen‚ Cyrus Kabiru‚ Kudzanai Chiurai and Edson Chagas.

Acting curator Nwagbogu‚ an acclaimed photographer from Nigeria‚ is the curator at large of photography at the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography at Zeitz MOCAA.