CWM IG Auction | Meet the Curators: Binwe Adebayo

Writer, editor, scholar, and founder of Baby Mogul, Binwe Adebayo is widely known across the South African creative landscape. When she is not penning down articles for platforms like Nataal, you can find her kicking ass and taking names at Baby Mogul – a strategy, talent management, and high-level service agency.

She also forms part of our list of art curators for our CWM IG auctions. We caught up with her and here’s what she had to say:

Briefly tell us about yourself and your creative journey.

In the context of this project, what’s probably most relevant is that I’m a long time art and culture critic. I’ve worked in newsroom, magazines, and contributed to various publications that focus on contemporary art. I’m also a media studies scholar and have completed a Masters which focused on digital media and the ‘Black Twitter’ phenomenon in South Africa. While I’m not an artist in the traditional sense, my work as a writer and scholar is immensely invested in the creative and artistic process.

How are you preparing for the upcoming auction?

I’ve been doing a ton of research because I like to do a good job at whatever I offer my hand to. I have relied a lot on intuition and years of experience in the art ’space’ but I’ve been buying books and watching videos on curation. I’ve also had a really collaborative process with the artists on my roster. From thinking through what kind of work will perform well, to questions of pricing, to discussions about size – it’s been an amazing daily process of discussion and interrogation. One of the artists in the auction, Jess Poulos, is someone I’ve known for about ten years, but engaging as artist and curator has been wonderfully interesting.

Talk us through your process of searching for and selecting the artists you have selected to take part in the auction.

I wanted my auction to be as diverse and rich as possible, so I broke the local rule and looked for African artists operating from far beyond South Africa. Naturally, that’s made the production side of things somewhat more complex for me but I wanted an auction that was reflective of our true diversity. So I’ve roped in Kenyan, Ghanaian, Australian-South African artists to tell a broader story. Some were artists whose work I knew well, others were artists I’d been intrigued by and everyone on the roster has been massively creative so I look forward to the buyers’ response.

Is there a specific artistic theme or criteria you looked for? If so, what criteria or theme is this?

I think that’s sort of answered above. But also, considering the broader theme of the 10and5 project, I’ve tried to keep the auction predominantly focused on women and queer-identifying artists. Beyond that, I think that this is more about showcasing the wide range of talent that we are around, so I’ve tried not to be prescriptive. I have focused on a lot of digital art, and we have an artist, Mel Madiba, who works with fire to create her works – so I’m trying to push past the painting = art mold.

This month, we aim to celebrate women creatives through a variety of activations. In your opinion, what is the importance of highlighting women creatives in the industry, giving them a voice, and celebrating their craft?

What role do creatives play in ensuring women-related issues are brought awareness and women in arts are celebrated?

Ultimately, I think the importance is not lost on anyone. The work of representation is and beginning to happen and that’s a good first step. But as the scholar Nancy Fraser rightly illuminates, we need representation, recognition, and redistribution to happen. So for me, the highlighting of women artists is the first step. It’s also the extent to which we pay women artists correctly – how we treat them on set, and in studios. It also means not necessarily earmarking any issue as women’s issues. When I think about gender-based violence which is a searing scourge in this country, I feel the mantle shouldn’t rest with women to do the work. So for me, in the context of art and creativity, its about a consistent and meaningful commitment to giving women environments that allow them to thrive and to be considered in the way we handle projects. I can put 100 women on an auction roster, but if they’ve earned less than their male counterparts, to me that’s a failure. Probably not the most creative- friendly question but my personal concern in this life, and in my work, is about how we infrastructurally change the way we act and react with regards to women in creative spaces.

Between 10 and 5