"I believe it is Africa's turn. As a continent that is demographically huge, young and energetic, it's time for Africa to take its position on the world stage as a central power, not just economically, but culturally, too." - Stefan Simchowitz
"For me, success means artists making beautiful work and having the work become visible, both within and outside of the continent." - David Altman
Our guests on this episode of the Latitudes Podcast are South African-born, U.S-based friends of more than 30 years: Stefan Simchowitz and David Altman. Their wide-ranging conversation explores everything from walking the line between collector and dealer, what success means in the art world and the promotion of cultural production from Africa.
As a platform for critical thinking, the Latitudes Podcast seeks to spark debate and provide our audience with a wide range of viewpoints from across the art ecosystem, even those that may ruffle feathers.
Touching on the political, spiritual and everything in between, we hope this discussion gives you greater insight into Altman and Simchowitz - the man The New York Times has dubbed the Patron Satan of the Art World.
Simchowitz is well known - some may say notorious - as an art collector, curator and advisor who owns gallery spaces in the Los Angeles area; and runs a number of art residencies in the U.S and South Africa.
Altman is a producer and businessman who has been involved in development and charitable work for decades. His work has taken him to the US, Italy, Kuwait and Kenya and, having travelled widely in over 75 countries, he maintains an extensive global network in both the private and public sector.
I love the continent. It's a magical place. Even as a white man, a white Jew from South Africa, the continent of Africa has infected my spiritual bones. - Stefan Simchowitz
When I grew up in South Africa, in the middle of apartheid, we didn't really have access to news or information, but we were very highly influenced by things from America, whether it was having a Frigidaire, eating Kellogg's Rice Krispies for breakfast, or reading American comic books. So the idea that years later I'd have the ability to get behind artists whose work we love, empower them with resources to make work and then, in the reverse, show the cultural production of Africa in the USA - that was a very exciting proposition. - David Altman
Stefan Simchowitz (1970-), born in Johannesburg, South Africa, is a Los Angeles-based art collector, curator, advisor, photographer, polemicist and film producer. He is a vocal proponent of social media as a legitimate vector for discovering, distributing, and popularising the fine arts outside and alongside the traditional institutional, educational, critical and gallery infrastructures.
The Simcoportrait is a self created genre of photography in which he has collapsed documentation of anything and everything into a single thing - this includes still life, landscape, street, self portraiture, and documentation photography. The Simcoportrait is merely a portrait of the subject in whatever genre of photography it may fall.
What is unusual about his practice is that it accompanies him everywhere as a live documentation under the seemingly nondescript amateur everyday photographer. There is a formal discipline to his image taking and image making that is reflected in the obsessive compulsion to capture and create.
David Altman is a South African born, US based, social entrepreneur, with education initiatives focused on skills and human development in the public and private sector in Southern Africa. For two decades, he was the Executive Director of the US Export Council and worked with Nelson Mandela’s first government, facilitating trade and investment between the US and Southern Africa. David is an avid supporter, patron, and collector of African Contemporary Art from across the continent.
About the Latitudes Podcast
Hosted by dynamic broadcast journalist and penchant for the arts Refiloe Mpakanyane, The Latitudes Podcast, which is the only podcast dedicated to contemporary African art, is an immersive and engaging platform that builds a new layer of access to the contemporary visual arts from Africa.
Latitudes is now a pan-African platform with a global audience, and this podcast is an additional discoverability tool for global audiences to uncover African art and learn about the featured topics and speakers.
Season one of the Latitudes Podcast explores new ways of accessing and thinking about the contemporary visual arts from Africa, while building a robust archive of thought leadership.
About Refiloe Mpakanyane
Refiloe Mpakanyane is a broadcast journalist, with a penchant for the arts. Known for her love and support of local African literature, art and artists, Mpakanyane has an Honours Degree from the Wits School of Journalism and majored in International Relations, Media Studies and English Literature for her undergrad. Her firm grounding in the critical, analytical and creative thinking of the humanities discipline has underpinned her passion for broadcasting, leading her to delve into working not only behind the scenes in radio and television production, but in front of the camera and hosting her own radio shows as well.
About Latitudes Online
Latitudes Online is the world's leading online marketplace for art from Africa. Discover and buy artworks from over 1,700 artists and enjoy editorial from leading voices on the continent. When you buy from Latitudes Online you have peace of mind that your artwork will be safely delivered to you in perfect condition. Click here to start your collecting journey.
About iTOO Artinsure
iTOO is a collective of industry leading experts across a range of special risk insurance offerings. Art and collectables are a fast growing asset class around the world. Representing years of value that could diminish in a matter of seconds, it’s critical to take the time to insure with an expert who understands the length and breadth of the industry. Damage, an increasing rise in cultural crime and forgery can translate to serious loss in terms of your appreciating works and collectables.
Further Reading In Articles
African Artist Directory