Arte Botanica 2019 | A One of a Kind Event Celebrating African Talent


Arte Botanica is an annual event curated and co-created by Manthe Ribane and Benji Liebmann. Manthe Ribane is a multi-displinary artist, musician and co-founder of Dear Ribane and Benji Liebmann is an artist and the director of Nirox Foundation. The event which was on the 9th of November, focuses on the relationship between art, music and fashion and brought together a programme of exciting collaborations.


Held at Nirox Sculpture Park - a UNESCO heritage site, the event brought together South African fashion designers such as Laduma Maxhosa, Ella Buter, WANDA LEPHOTO, Sash x Katharien de Villiers, Dear Ribane, Viviers and local contemporary artists such as Unathi Mkonto and music performances by the Johannesburg Philharmonic, Msaki and Tresor.


With the vision of putting sustainable, ethical and conscious fashion on the forefront - the natural beauty of Nirox served as the perfect backdrop. The event's dress code was white and natural tones.


Ribane shares that one of the core visions of the event is, "celebrating our people and everyone that was there and everyone that is yet to come. It's basically a celebration of them paving a way for us to believe that it is possible. And, you know for me to be where I am now, it is through everyone that played a big role and I think in Africa, we really need to have beautiful headlines and moments. We felt it is important to create these experiences and also introducing new forms of inspiration in the cradle of humankind, and also incorporating the subject of sustainability, because that's the big subject now in the world because of global changes whilst highlighting different disciplines of art."


She goes on to further say: "the were so many beautiful miracles in that day. And I felt like it was a birth for all of us to be part of a new subject; a new opportunity for us to challenge our abilities further and further and also having Nirox Sculpture Park as the first Sculpture Park in Africa to pave a way of new experiences because this was the first of a kind, since they normally do sculpture events; and introducing different elements that art plays a big role in. I think it is a new wave of opportunities, information and experiences and it will get better and better every year. " 


Wanda Lephoto is the founder and creative of self titled brand WANDA LEPHOTO®. Wanda and his team showcased an installation of archival pieces since they haven't released any new pieces as they are in a time of reflection.

"The collection people saw at Arte Botanica was old archive pieces that we hope show a piece of our journey and growth from when we started to now."

Amy Zama, African Ginger (Seth Pimentel) and Imraan Christian collaborated on an installation in partnership with Haus of Strauss. A crossover collaboration between photography, fashion, creative direction and illustration.


Their installation was called Eldorado Oliphant, "Which is inspired by the Oliphant family which we shot in the Eldos community (a Coloured community in Joburg). We were really struck by their story and because [the surname] is Oliphant (Elephant) it represents wisdom, loyalty and regal-ness and it only made sense to match that with the brand that is Levi's." - Amy Zama

Trevor Stuurman is a photographer and creative director, his beaded bicycle installation was inspired by his grandmother who used bead as a child, to celebrate her progressive and resourceful nature. The bicycle is a metaphor for his colonial surname, Stuurman which means to steer in Dutch and his mission was to put culture on wheels, to move it forward.

Collective Dear Ribane's (Manthe Ribane, Tebogo Ribane and Kay Kay Ribane) installation piece titled 'Humanoids Transcend Above the Water' is about entering new cosmic dimensions concerning survival and thriving in any situation.


"Staying above water is the need to stay above and beyond all situations. The use of floats is a continuation of the installation performance we did in Morocco, at the Macaal Contemporary Museum.'Humanoids Transcend Above the Water' is about creating art that is healing and communicates to individuals in their own cosmic realms of thoughts and feelings. Sparking a new way of defining what it is to be human. Transcending legacies of pain into dignity."



Unathi Mkonto is a multidisciplinary artist who works between fashion and architecture. His installation was inspired by taking the inner city Joburg and bringing it to nature and merging the raw aesthetics of the Joburg CBD with nature whilst drawing the lines between art and fashion.



Unathi's installation was showcased by Lebo Otukile and Nkuley Masemola with makeup by Orli Oh.




Photography: Anthony Bila

Words: Phendu Kuta