ALMA MARTHA was an artistsʼ collaborative collective host of action intervention exhibitions, in Cape Town, which was founded in early 2014 by Juliana Irene Smith under the name ALMA MATER. Later that year she joined up with Molly Steven from the Martha collective and coined the name ALMA MARTHA. The project ended when Juliana moved to Finland mid 2017.

ALMA MARTHA is not your mother.
ALMA MATER in Latin means nourishing mother. It also refers to where one graduated from University. ALMA MARTHA will not be contrived in stating the obvious that art and culture nourishes. In opposition to the term, it aims at being a network that challenges the rules of art academia, not through denying it but rebelling within the system, and working towards making art work that accesses the everyday.

It hosted eight exhibitions in the space in Woodstock in 2015 under the umbrella theme of LEARNING BY DOING. In 2016 ALMA MARTHA wanted to reach new audiences and bring works into new areas, thus using NEW VENUES the overall title and hosted two public art intervention exhibitions, participated in two international art fairs, Supermarket in Stockholm, Sweden and I Never Read in Basel, Switzerland as well as Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain at the Central Methodist Church, Social Muscle Club in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In 2017 AM organized and a week long artists residency for 8 selected artists at the Erf 81Tamberskloof Farm in Cape Town, while also hosting the Addis Video Art Festival and later that year collaborated with Nico Athene on the In Bed with Artists Residency.

ALMA MARTHAʼs mission was based on the theory that the artist and artists collective are social animators. It offers a platform for local, regional and international artists to work singularly or in collaboration within and outside of the white cube. The critique and dialogue with all levels of art participants from artists, curators, professors, students and audience will be encouraged to engage with one another.

ALMA MARTHA works with artists who push the notions of contemporary and being
contemporary. It is not always about the final product but quite often the process. Aesthetic is a personal choice and it is continually transforming. The aim is to support socio-political, collaborative and experimental contemporary art practice, which may not have a platform in a commercial gallery.

ALMA MARTHA believed in the importance of knowledge, research and theory with the aim of conceptuality and or making it political. The goal in all parts is to make work that is accessible to a wide audience and promoting it so that audience in all forms is reached. Broadening the notions of audience and working towards accessing more individuals was a main goal.

ALMA MARTHA was a platform open to growth, feedback and interactions that come from wanting to build an art initiative that pushed to stand on the forefront of contemporary art practice or even dare we say post-contemporary… and the conversation that goes with it.

ALMA MARTHA - You can always come back, if you want to.