The IFAA Project


The IFAA Art Platform, produced by Artistic Director Sithabile Mlotshwa, was founded in 2008 Arnhem, as a biannual international festival and artists in residency platform, whose purpose was to build a bridge of international exchange between creators of all disciplines from across the globe and creators from the Gelderland region of the Netherlands.

2008-09-24 16-31-182008 IFAA participants visit IFAA venues: Meeting with Wouter Welling, curator, Africa Museum Berg en Dal, Nijmegen

The realization of the first IFAA project in Arnhem was the first step at strengthening the collaboration ties started at Dak’art Biennale in 2006 by N’gone Fall for the ResArtis Awards. Sithabile Mlotshwa Founding Director of the Thamgidi Foundation which at that point was also a member of the ResArtis  Network had attended the 2006 Dak’art Biennale in order to give a Thamgidi Foundation Res Artis Award.

2008-09-24 10-21-46 13.32.17 13.32.172008 artists visit to IFAA venue Plaatsmaken and in conversation of Julie Lichtenberg

Although the 2006 ResArtis Awards at the Dak’art Biennale, were meant to be a first step at building a bridge and expanding the Network to the rest for the African continent, Sithabile knew that one visit to one country in the African continent was not enough to build a bridge 0f exchange. With this, Sithabile saw the visit of ResArtis as an opportunity to not only build a bridge with the African Continent but to instead build a bridge of international exchange where creators from across the globe would come together to share and exchange knowledge. This is how IFAA was born.

2008-11-2614-29-15Artists dialogues, lunch debate with IFAA partner, Kunstcollectief Barneveld  and a warm welcome by Wethouder of Barneveld at the Oranjerie te Barneveld.

The first step of building this bridge was between Africa and Europe and would be realized in Arnhem, the capital city of Gelderland. This is why the project was called IFAA – meaning: International Festival of Art in Arnhem. IFAAlogo

While the project was well received by the cultural organizations in the east of the Netherlands, as well as across the country, the international character of the IFAA Project, the scale of the project and the fact that the producer was black, became problematic for the city council, politicians, business, Funding bodies and cultural institutions.

Despite the unimaginable challenges, which included death threats, the IFAA 2008 project was realized with great success. The spin off of the 2008 IFAA led to the 2009 IFAA exhibition in Barnsley, UK and 2009 IFAA in Amsterdam. When a partner in Beijing proposed to realize IFAA Beijing, in 2010 and another in Belgium proposed IFAA Belgium, in 2012, it is at that point that the IFAA project, changed it’s focus from having it’s central point in Arnhem to being an international project with it’s main core being to connect cultures from across the globe through culture.

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Since 2012, IFAA became the IFAA Art Platform that now functions as an International Collective of Cross-cultural Thinkers and Creators from across the globe.

The new IFAA Art Platform whose focus would be on international exchange came with a new logo and a new website. To-date, IFAA has developed many projects among them; IFAA Regional Projects, City to City platforms, IFAA Global, Collector’s HUB, Green is Cool, IFAA Festival of World Cultures, iDesign, and many more. With the residency program at its core IFAA brings people from across the globe to collaborate in ways that foster fruitful dialogue based on mutual respect. Founded on the philosophy of Ubuntu, “the essence of being human” IFAA is a celebration of a Culture of Cultures – that facilitates and enables international cross-disciplinary collaborations, that address reality of our time. IFAA activities include Exhibitions, Residencies, 48 hours, Research, IFAA Collectors HUB, IfaaContemporary (a mobile Gallery), Public Space interventions, IFAA Festival of World Cultures, IFAA Design Platform, Publications, The IFAA Global Prize, Sustainable Solutions Awards and the Production of Art Fairs and Biennales, through IFAA Global.


Since the launch of the pilot phase in 2015 – 2016 for the major 10 year IFAA project, presented at the Gallery of Solutions – Musee de L’Art et de I’Espace – COP21 at the World Summit, which brought together artists from across the globe to Cite Internationale des Arts, in response to Social and Environmental Degradation, the artistic director is now hard at work, in preparation for Phase 2, which begins with a major fundraising campaign for the 10-year IFAA project.

IFAA 10 year Project: Looking into the Future, Our World, Our Common Home


Below is information about IFAA

What is IFAA:

IFAA, an international cross – disciplinary Festival and Artists in Residency Platform, is an ephemeral space of encounter that takes place in different cities across the globe. Founded in 2008, Arnhem, the Netherlands by Thamgidi Foundation and produced by artistic director S’thabile Mlotshwa, its purpose is to facilitate intercultural artistic exchanges, critical dialogue, debates and cross- disciplinary collaborations that lead to building and sharing of knowledge and the strengthening of intellectual activity across cultures.

IFAAIFAA Amsterdam image by; Giovanni Piesco

The IFAA Art Platform serves as a “melting pot” of cultures, bringing together diverse communities, artists, thinkers and arts organizations. IFAA greatly values the sharing of knowledge through mutual respect and seeks to strengthen the Celebrating of a Culture of Cultures.

2008-12-1321-27-50Powder of Moving identities, by Giovanna Giorli

Form of project:

The IFAA residency program, set as an ephemeral space of encounter, with the purpose of responding to now – is realized in different cities worldwide based on the context and project and takes place usually between 2 weeks to – 3 months. It is done through cross – disciplinary collaborations, including Debates, Public space projects, Conferences, Educational program for schools, Design, Green is Cool, Network Sessions, IFAA Global, IFAA Network, IFAA Regional, IFAA City, IFAA Contemporary, 48 Hours, Curator’s Platform and a World Festival which includes Performing Arts with: Music, Dance, Film Screenings and Literary Arts with Poetry, Storytelling and Spoken word.


History and growth of IFAA:

Since inception of IFAA 2008, in Arnhem the Netherlands and celebrating 8 years of existence, IFAA has successfully built regional and international partnerships for the realization of IFAA in their respective cities. These partners include: Art in Redlight for IFAA Amsterdam, The Civic and Cooper Galleries Barnsley IFAA traveling exhibition in Barnsley, Asbl Au Fil dela Terre for IFAA Belgium, Beijing Studio Centre for the development of IFAA in Beijing, IFAA Nijmegen, IFAA Global, Collector’s HUB, Green is Cool, IFAA Festival of World Cultures, iDesign, and many more. The IFAA Art Platform also runs its own gallery realized in order to finance its projects and most importantly to enable creators. The IFAA Art Platform includes a network with more than 25.000 creators, collectors, business and institutions, worldwide and major online following.

IFAA rob installation

Who do you think you are? Public space performance by Rob Sweere

The success of IFAA turned it into a Platform, that now co-produces biennales – among them Yango biennale in Kinshasa, in Congo DRC, the upcoming Lome Biennale for Contemporary Art, Design, Performing Arts and Environment, including the giving of IFAA Awards through its partnerships. The last Major IFAA project to be realized by Producer and Artistic Director of IFAA, Sithabile Mlotshwa is the IFAA 2015 – 2025 project aimed at contributing to a better world through Culture. For more information about IFAA – please visit:

Below are videos from the IFAA 2012 project: 

Jeanne Marie Tosolini partner IFAA 2012 & Jean Dalemans speak about the value of IFAA.

Junfeng Ding – The role of language in communication

The fictional idea of being connected – by Marcos Lora Read

The same generation and the same influences, different places and different histories, a dialogue between two artists; Ivan & Toufik on communication.

Matthias De Groof – On Communication of Knowledge

Keiko Sato – How does information break the communication between people?

Analysis of the physical, spiritual and moral image of a place – by Kiripi Katembo Siku

Visual exchange and the impact it has on human interactions – by Angela de Jesus

The basic human need & common ground – by Jan Ru Wan IFAA 2012

A need to connect…Sithabile speaks about the core of IFAA – as a breeding ground of ideas, learning & knowledge sharing. It’s also the reflection on the IFAA Art platform…a cross-disciplinary festival and artist in residency project that I began in 2008 Arnhem the Netherlands with the purpose of building an ephemeral space of encounter that has resulted in a powerful force bringing and connecting creators from across the globe.

For more information about the project see:




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