D’Zair: Art and Craft A Johannesburg, opening on 29 January 2016 and running through 4 May 2016, presents 13 contemporary Algerian designers for the first time in South Africa. The commissioned works by Yamo, Mohamed Ourrad, Jamel Matari, Leila Mammeri, Samir Hamiane, Hamida Benmansour, Mourad Krinah, Idir Messaoud, Amine Belkebir, Neila Rahil, Said Issadi, Mohamed Walid Bouchouchi & Radia Zitouni, were made possible by the support of the Algerian Ministry of Culture and the AARC (Agence Algerienne Pour le Rayonnement Culturel).
The project between MOAD and Algeria has been in development since 2013, when MOAD first had to define the idea of ‘What is African?’ One major schism on the continent is between Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Mediterranean-bordering states. Why are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt excluded from the majority of discussions about Africa? Hellal Zoubir, one of North Africa’s most accomplished designers and lecturers began tackling this question. His proposal, which has turned into a four-month exhibition, is to expose as many examples of North African design to new audiences.
While fostering this cultural exchange, Zoubir points out that visitors to the exhibit should pay attention to the handmade nature of the Algerian objects. In a written statement, Zoubir writes, “Algeria does not have the infrastructure that would allow designers to machine prototype, which has had the advantage of merging traditional artisans’ dexterity with designers' plans – resulting in unique outcomes.”
Executive Director at MOAD, Aaron Kohn, describes the importance of this project, “At the MOAD, we constantly attempt to convince African designers living in New York and exhibiting in Paris to come for a project in South Africa. Even more difficult is to convince someone in another part of Africa who is actively trying to break into Europe or America, to see Johannesburg as an attractive space for exhibiting, working, or selling.”
After the tremendous success of the first two years of exhibitions at MOAD, renovations began in September 2015 to transform parts of the building into additional creative spaces (studios, workshops, and a restaurant). D’Zair: Art and Craft A Johannesburg will mark the reopening of MOAD, and offer visitors a new perspective into African design.