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FADA Student Ph.D Research

 Textual and creative research output

The Faculty continues to contribute to the various disciplines in art,   design, architecture, visual culture and art and design history through textual research output, participation in relevant conferences and, lastly, through creative research output. The target for 2022 was 62 research output submissions  , with all departments and division being research active. VIAD remains the largest contributor to the Faculty’s research output.

Table 1: FADA textual research units submitted to DHET for accreditation 2015-2022, showing the percentage of contributions to international journals

Total outputs50.7535.08757933536162
% International articles70%45,9%60,6%66%89%100%96,2%In process


The DHET introduction of creative outputs has been incorporated into FADA’s research output target. A staff exhibition held in the FADA gallery has enabled several staff to actively participate in creative research output in the Design and Fine Art categories. In addition, the artist in residence programme hosted by UJ Arts and Culture has delivered four creative outputs in the category Theatre, Performance and Dance.

NRF-SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture

The Chair-holder, Prof Brenda Schmahmann, had been extremely active in research and publications, research related activities, doctoral supervision and student support in 2022. The following activities of the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture should be highlighted.

An  article Prof Brenda Schmahmann (the Chair holder) wrote on Marco Cianfanelli’s sculpture outside Chancellor House in Johannesburg was published in The Sculpture Journal (Liverpool University Press), while the article she co-authored on the Karel Landman Monument (with Vineet Thakur and Peter Vale) was published in Image & Text. The article she wrote for Textile, Cloth and Culture   on the Covid Cloths by the Mapula Embroidery Project, has come out in online form. Prof Schmahmann submitted chapters on the Keiskamma Art Project’s Intsikizi Tapestries for a volume on Heritage published by Bloomsbury and another on Usha Seejarim’s   public sculptures for a volume published by University of Provence Press and Liverpool University Press. Prof Schmahmann submitted three further book chapters in the course of the year – two to volumes on public art being published by Routledge and one to a volume on contemporary art for De Gruyter. She delivered a guest lecture to the Gauteng Institute for Architects and presented conference papers at the annual conference of the Association of Art History in the United Kingdom and at a conference on textiles hosted by the French Institute (IFAS) in Johannesburg.

There were publications by others associated with the Chair. Irene Bronner published an article on Paul Emmanuel’s work for Image & Text and an engagement with a video by Penny Siopis in De Arte. Postdoctoral fellow, Philippa Hobbs, published an article on Rorke’s Drift tapestries in Social Dynamics, and the online version of the article Theo Sonnekus submitted to Visual Studies has come out. PhD graduate, Roxy Do Rego, developed an article from her PhD work, which was published in De Arte.

The Chair hosted the conference, Hitting Home: Representations of the Domestic Milieu in Feminist Art, between 14 and 17 November 2022.  While the conference was online, an accompanying exhibition, The Harbingers, by Christine Dixie, was hosted in our gallery. The conference included 26 papers, a selection of which will be developed into a special issue of Image & Text and will be published in 2023. The conference also provided an opportunity to launch Iconic Works of Art by Feminists and Gender Activists: Mistress-Pieces, which came out in 2021.

On 19 October, Staffan Löfving, an anthropologist and associate professor at Karlstad University in Sweden, Paul Weinberg, a research associate with the SARChI Chair, and Prof Schmahmann co-convened a workshop at SASUF Goes Digital 2022, a week-long event hosted by the Swedish-South Africa Universities Forum. The topic was Photography and Visual Heritage in Sweden and South Africa. The eight presentations included papers by postdoctoral research fellows with the SARChI Chair, Philippa Hobbs and Theo Sonnekus.

Between 30 August and 1 September 2022, the Chair hosted Making and Interpreting Art in 2022, an online conference and exhibition for honours and master’s students in South Africa. The exhibition was curated by Dineke van der Walt, a PhD candidate in our cohort who curates festivals such as the Klein Karoo Kunstefees. Dr Irene Bronner organised the conference programme, and was ably assisted by PhD candidate, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, and postdoctoral research fellow, Melissa Gerber.

The end of the 2022 academic year saw Delene Human, supervised by Prof Schmahmann, being awarded her PhD. Angelique Bougaard, on SARChI-linked NRF scholarship (supervised by Irene Bronner and co-supervised by David Paton) was awarded her master’s with distinction. Kailashnee Naidoo, with a SARChI-linked NRF scholarship and who was supervised by Lize Groenewald, also submitted her master’s successfully.

PhD candidate, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, was interviewed about her practice by CNN ( There were also some important awards. Philippa Hobbs, postdoctoral research fellow, received an NRF rating of C2. Dineke van der Walt, PhD candidate, won the kykNET Fiësta Award for the Best Achievement in Visual Arts.

 The Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) Research Centre

VIAD’s goals and target areas for 2022 were to enhance the global excellence and stature of UJ, with focus on its strategic drive towards decoloniality, internationalisation, and academic excellence. These goals were achieved through VIAD’s numerous quality creative and textual research outputs, the achievements of its research associates (RAs) and visiting professors (VPs), and the content of the projects undertaken. The quality, integrity and impact of its numerous research outputs by its international research associates (RAs), who are predominantly international, have made an important contribution towards excellence in research, innovation, and internationalisation.

The Centre’s  commitment to UJ’s Global Excellence and Stature (GES) strategy has been proven through the quality (and quantity) of work VIAD has produced. The Research Centre (RC) has solidified its on-going and long-term contribution to FADA’s and UJ’s international profile for GES through the appointment of some of the foremost international and national scholars working in the fields of Black Studies, and African-Diasporic Visual Culture, as well as distinguished international artists such as Alberta Whittle, and South African artists, Senzeni Marasela and Nolan Oswald Dennis, all of whom are doing cutting-edge work.

One of VIAD’s strongest contributions to FADA, and towards excellence in research and innovation in UJ, and its national and international profile and stature is the quality, integrity and impact of the RC’s numerous research outputs. The exceptional quality and academic standard of VIAD’s Research Associates (RA) and Visiting Professors   (VP) textual and creative outputs; the contributions they make to VIAD’s focus on ‘Living histories’; and their high-level positions within their institutions and profiles within the research community, bring an enormous amount of prestige to VIAD and FADA.

In terms of research outputs, VIAD submitted 36.50 units for textual research, and 4.5 Creative Research output submissions. This far exceeds its target of 25 units for the year.

Through a series of online public programme events, interdisciplinary platforms, panel discussions exhibitions and publications, in 2022 VIAD deepened work that was initiated and has been developing since 2017. Projects supported in 2022 contributed towards a critical rethinking of history-making and future-imagining within the historical paradigm (and contemporary afterlives) of racial slavery, colonial modernity and apartheid. This research thematic is directly related to UJ’s strategic drive towards transformation and decoloniality.