Renowned arts and cultural establishment, the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre (FNCC) has poured water on accusations that it breached its contract with a local artist, Julia Hango, by dismantling her exhibition before deadline.
The Villager had last week reported that FNCC came under fire by Hango for running her exhibition in a gallery which was reportedly kept dirty, dimly lit while the artist alleged that the institution had often times covered her nude artworks.
The FNCC’s director, Jerome Kohl, has however come out of the cocoon to say that contrary to the allegations, it was Hango herself who had decided to take off her art works before deadline.
“The FNCC did not, in any case, cancel her exhibition or take the decision to finalize it a week early,” he said in a written response to The Villager.
He however could not deny that Hango’s works were occasionally taken down, which the artist found offensive, but Kohl said they only did that to protect her pieces from possible damage.
He said each time they notified the artist of their intent, although Hango said that she was only informally notified once.
She said a lady who works at the centre had to “whisper” their intentions to her.
“In this case, the artworks were taken down for the Art Battle held last Friday. This event’s set up as well as the high attendance of people would have put the artworks at risk.”
“Indeed, we would like to raise the fact that the FNCC gives out the platform and the venue to artists entirely for free, and therefore has the need to use the space of the exhibition for other paying events as a way to gain necessary income. Taking down artworks during set up insures the artworks are not damaged,” he emphasised.
To the contrary, Hango said FNCC pockets a certain percentage out of every art piece sold.
Kohl added, “On keeping the doors of the gallery closed during the day, we regret to say that this is an absolute obligation in terms of security, as we are responsible for the artworks inside the gallery, and try to prevent theft of works, or once again, damage. When it comes to cleanliness and lighting of the space, we welcome the raising of these issues that we were not aware of, and will work towards fixing them in the future.”
Kohl said in regards to the changing of the exhibition end date, initially at the end of Thursday 22 March, to the morning of Thursday 22nd March, they gave Hango the option to say no, and that she was contacted and asked for her permission.
“Any real objection and a discussion would have been possible at the time of the proposal. However, the artist agreed to it. Due to the fact that it was not a forced change we do not deem this a breech of our original agreement especially as it was a change of merely moving the closing of the exhibition from the end of the day to the same morning,” explained the director.
He also took some jabs at Hango.
“Julia Hango, before taking matters to social media and the press, did not ask to meet with the director of the FNCC, to present her inconformity with what had been happening or to demand explanation. The director was, and is still, willing to hold an open discussion.”
“On a few occasions, the artist missed her appointments to come bring the artworks to the centre to start the hanging process, which left us tight with regards to time and human resources on the day of the opening, having guests arrive while the process was not entirely done. This not only puts a strain on the FNCC team that has to work under stress, it also gives the centre an unprofessional image, seeing that exhibition-goers walk into a space not entirely ready for them,” he said.