Q&A with Tomorrows/Today Curators, Luigi Fassi and Nkule Mabaso

Tomorrows/Today is a curated section which aims to highlight artists who will be tomorrow’s leading names. A panel of art professionals awards a cash prize to the artist with the most exciting presentation. The section is co-curated by Nkule Mabaso (Curator, Fine Artist and Culture Consultant, South Africa) and Luigi Fassi (Artistic Director, MAN-Contemporary Art Museum, Italy)

Michaela Younge ‘Maiden Voyage to Nowhere Good’ (SMAC gallery, Cape Town)

“Given the current semi-shared conditions of affective and temporal delays, the selection of the Tomorrows/Today as it appears, offers a slow navigation, and intense looking, a moment to reconnect with familiar forms and the intense engagement with two dimensional forms.

The section presents painterly positions and digital works that also require a distribution of our attention and call for the noticing of the subtle gradations. Tomorrows/Today is characterized as a hub, a place in which some decisive artistic achievements are intensively concentrated, as the title of the project suggests - between the now and the yet to come, or more precisely, to emphasize an anticipation of the future in the present. The strength of the section lies in being a field research that has engaged the curators for several months in search of innovative, complex and multifaceted artistic proposals. Tomorrows/Today intersects three parallel stories: that of the participating artists, that of the galleries supporting them, and that of the curators, who carry out research and send out invitations.”

 – Luigi Fassi and Nkule Mabaso

About the Curators

Nkule Mabaso is researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, director of Natal Collective, South Africa and Co-Curator of the South African Pavillion at the 58th Venice Biennale, alongside Nomusa Makhuba. Titled, The Stronger We Become, the exhibition included the works of Dineo Seshee Bopape, Tracey Rose and Mawande Ka Zenzile.

Luigi Fassi is currently the Artistic Director of MAN Contemporary Art Museum (Nuoro, Italy). He served as a committee member of Alserkal Avenue Residency Programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2016 – 2018). He has also curated several exhibitions and public art projects as Visual Art Curator at the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz, Austria (2012 – 2017), and organised the Present Future section at Artissima in Turin, Italy (2010 – 2016).

1. Can you elaborate on the “three parallel stories” and why it is important that they are not read in isolation?

LF: If Tomorrows/Today intersects three parallel stories it is because we as curators are aware of the different levels involved in the making of the section; the role of the participating artists, that of the galleries supporting them, and that of the curators themselves, who carry out research and send out invitations. In the current market scenario artists and galleries are strictly linked to each other, and this is why we approached them both with respect to Tomorrows/Today. In an art fair context you can’t tell the two of them apart from each other, i.e. artists and galleries share the same commitment to bring their best to a fair, which is both a market as well as a research platform.

Aldo Salucci ‘Versace on top’ (right) (A.MORE gallery, Milano

2. What did the process of field research entail? Were you able to conduct studio/gallery visits in person in your curatorial process, or were the majority online engagements?

NM: The process relied on known contacts, artists and spaces, traveling and visiting spaces was not possible. Another important aspect are the people who apply to the section and make very compelling propositions that we then consider for inclusion.

LF: The process entailed carrying a research internationally, bearing witness to artistic practices capable of raising questions and reflections on the current changes underway in the global scenario. A good deal of the work has been done online. In the covid-driven scenario, I think we gave more value than ever also to personal archives, allowing ourselves to do research with less travels.


Mavis Tauzeni, ‘Kananeniwoo’ (First Floor Gallery, Harare)

3. Can you elaborate on the value in this opportunity for “slow navigation and intense looking”?

NM: Slowing down allows time for clarity, over the three days of the fair with a more moderated selection of fair participants means we get a longer time to connect more meaningfully than at other previous opportunities and this is important after the long force hiatus.

Participating artists:

A.MORE GALLERY, Milan, Italy | Aldo Salucci (Italy)

EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town/ Franschhoek, South Africa | Feni Chulumanco (South Africa)

First Floor Gallery Harare, Harare, Zimbabwe | Mavis Tauzeni (Zimbabwe)

Guns & Rain, Johannesburg, South Africa | Bev Butkow (South Africa)

SMAC Gallery, Cape Town/ Johannesburg/ Stellenbosch, South Africa | Michaela Younge (South Africa)

The Melrose Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa | Philiswa Lila (South Africa)

THK Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa | Abdus Salaam (South Africa)