Curating as World-Making

Curating as World-Making panel (from left): Sharlene Khan, Nomusa Makhubu, Nontobeko Ntombela, Same Mdluli, Nkule Mabaso and Zodwa Skeyi-Tutani.

Art on our Mind creative dialogue:
Curating as World-Making

Sharlene Khan in conversation with curators Nkule Mabaso, Nomusa Makhubu, Same Mdluli, Nontobeko Ntombela, Zodwa Tutani on the possibilities and challenges in visual arts curation in South Africa (panelists’ biographies below). The discssuion took place in context of Afems 2018 conference ‘The Mute Always Speak’: (Re) imagining and re-imaging feminist futures on 28 September 2018.

VIDEO: Curating as World-Making panel discussion

AUDIO: Curating as World-Making panel discussion

TRANSCRIPT: Curating as World-Making panel discussion

Panelist biographies

Nkule Mabaso (born 1988), graduated with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Cape Town (2011) and received a Masters in Curating at the Postgraduate Programme in Curating ZHdK, Zürich (2014). She has worked as Assistant Editor of the journal OnCurating.org and founded the Newcastle Creative Network in Kwazulu Natal. As an artist, she has shown work in Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa, Germany, and Zimbabwe. She has curated shows and organised public talks in Switzerland, Malawi, Tanzania, and South Africa. Currently she works as a curator of the Michaelis Galleries at the University of Cape Town. She is a PHD Candidate at Rhodes University as part of the research team SARChI Chair Geopolitics and the Arts of Africa. Her research focuses on the Kwazulu Natal interior and calls for the development of context specific policy and that will provide the strategies for the mechanisation of the economic potential of culture in the context of small cities and large towns in South Africa. Specifically the research aims to produce recommendations for the creation of a well-structured municipal cultural policy for the small city of Newcastle that will be a resource that can generate new localised possibilities for the support of local cultural projects at municipal level.

Nomusa Makhubu (PhD, Rhodes University) is a senior lecturer of art history at the University of Cape Town and an artist. She received the ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award (2006) and the Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy (2014). She is the 1st Runner-Up in the DST Women in Science Awards, 2017. Makhubu is a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and was an African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential Fellow in 2016. In 2017, she was a Mandela-Mellon fellow at Harvard University. Makhubu is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) and the chairperson of Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI). She co-edited a Third Text Special Issue: The Art of Change (2013) and later co-curated the international exhibition, Fantastic, in 2015 with Nkule Mabaso. Her research interests include African popular culture and socially-engaged art.

Nontobeko Ntombela is a curator based in Johannesburg. She currently works at the Wits School of Arts developing the postgraduate programs in curatorial and exhibition practices. She previously worked as the curator of the contemporary collection at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (2010–12) and the Durban Institute of Technology Art Gallery (2006–10). Her curatorial projects include Soloat Cape Town Art Fair (2018); A Fragile Archive at Johannesburg Art Gallery (2012); MTN New Contemporaries (2010) for which she was guest curator; Layers at the Goodman Gallery project space, Johannesburg (2010); Modern Fabrics at the Bag Factory, Johannesburg (2008); From Here to There at the Association of Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town (2007), as part of the CAPE 07 fringe. Ntombela has participated in international programs including the Bilateral Exchange Project between Germany and South Africa (2007); Close Connections (Africa Reflected) Curator’s Workshop in Amsterdam (2009); Break the Silence Scotland (2002–3).

Same Mdluli (born 1983, Botswana) is an artist, art historian, and writer living in Johannesburg. She holds a PhD in History of Art, MA in Arts and Culture Management from Wits University and a B-Tech degree in Fine Arts (cum laude) from the University of Johannesburg. She has worked as an administrator in visual arts spaces and projects, participated in various exhibitions, conferences locally and internationally and won some art awards. She has also participated in a number of international residencies including at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and the Institut National d’histoire de l’art (INHA) in Paris. Her research interests are in contemporary African art, black expressive modes and aesthetics as well as the conversations between jazz and visual art. Before she was appointed curator at the Standard Bank Gallery she was a sessional lecturer at Wits University. She also serves as an advisory council member for the National Arts Council.

Zodwa Skeyi-Tutani is a curator and artist based in and inspired by the Eastern Cape. She has curated two exhibitions, Zundiqondisise, Reclaiming Our Voices (2018) with the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg, and Margins (2017) at the Makhanda Arts festival. She is also co-author and illustrator of one bilingual children’s book The Princess’ Journey (2006). She completed her NDip in Fine Art at Nelson Mandela University, and then her Btech in Fine Art at Walter Sisulu University. She is currently enrolled for an MFA in Curatorial Studies at Rhodes University.