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RETURN TO SENDER

an exhibition by Tlotlo Sereisho and Lira van Staden 

curated by Dineke Orton 

 

Pondering what might be done with colonial sculptures in a postcolonial world, Tlotlo Sereisho investigates the satirical possibilities of repatriating the many public statues of Queen Victoria in former British colonies – including South Africa – to Britain.

Lira van Staden explores strategies that would enable public participation in public art. Testing her ideas for an installation involving postboxes and letter-writing that she plans for the Union Buildings, she has also devised – specifically for this exhibition – an evocative interaction involving models of the Voortrekker Monument.

Both artists are MVA candidates in the Visual Art Department at the University of Johannesburg.

Return to Sender forms part of “Monumental Developments: Contemporary Approaches to Commemorative Public Art”, a conference hosted by the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture between 8 and 11 November 2023.

Click here to view the programme of the conference.

Mandela’s Roots | An Exhibition of Photographs by Bonile Bam

14 September 2023

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Lens in the Landscape: Responses to Bonile Bam | An Online Symposium

18 September 2023

Photographer Bonile Bam’s exhibition, Mandela’s Roots, focuses on places and spaces associated with Nelson Mandela’s childhood and youth. In the course of his fascinating project, Bam visited Mvezo, Qunu, Mqhekezweni, Clarkebury (Ngcobo), Healdtown (Fort Beaufort/Nxukhwebe) and Alice (eDikeni) in the Eastern Cape. While talking of Mandela’s past, his photographs also comment on the present, invoking a sense of people’s dreams of a better future which mostly remain unrealised 30 years into democracy.

The symposium accompanying the show, which took place on 18 September 2023 and was called “Lens in the Landscape: Responses to Bonile Bam”, involved a conversation with Bam as well as contributions by other scholars and practitioners about the ways of using photography and landscape to construct histories and identities.

Click here to view the programme of the symposium

The Moving Stills of Sarajevo: A Visual Anthropology | A Guest Seminar by Staffan Löfving

03 May 2023

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted a guest seminar by Staffan Löfving, Associate Professor, Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies, Karlstad University and Visiting Associate Professor, SARChI Chair in SA Art and Visual Culture, UJ.

In this seminar, Prof Löfving introduced The Moving Stills of Sarajevo: On Performative Imperfection in War and Photography, a book manuscript on which he is working.

The Drum Magazine Project: A Student Exhibition | An Exhibition facilitated by Dr Khaya Mchunu (University of Johannesburg) and Kiara Gounder (Durban University of Technology)

24 May 2023

The Gallery of the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted an exhibition of work from the Drum Magazine Project, which is an on-going cross-institutional teaching and research project designed to explore a decolonial approach to teaching fashion theory and history. Initiated in 2022, this exhibition showcased work created by the second-year cohort of fashion students from both the University of Johannesburg and the Durban University of Technology.

The keynote address was delivered by Prof Ashwin Desai (Director of the Centre for Social Change, UJ). A walkabout was offered by the facilitators and students on Thursday 25 May.

6 Mistress Pieces Iconic Works Of Art

Mistress Pieces | A Book Launch by editor Brenda Schmahmann and contributing authors

15 November 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted the online book launch of  Iconic Works of Art by Women, Feminists and Gender Activitsts: Mistress Pieces (London and New York: Routledge, 2021), edited by Brenda Schmahmann.

In this book, contributors identify and explore a range of iconic works – “Mistress-Pieces” – that have been made by feminists and gender activists since the 1970s. While in some instances revealing cross influences between artists working in different frameworks, the publication simultaneously makes evident how social and political factors specific to particular countries had significant impact on the making and reception of art focused on gender.

7 Uj Sarchi Theharbingers Exhibition 3nov2022 Invite

The Harbingers | An Exhibition by Christine Dixie

3 November 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted the exhibition opening of  The Harbingers by Christine Dixie at the SARChI Gallery.

In The Harbingers, Christine Dixie combined references to historical discourses about childbirth and colonisation, suggesting the gendered underpinnings of both. The inherently violent act of discovery, whether it be through medical invasion of the body in caesarean or other medical practices or the landing of fortified ships at the harbours of coastlines of countries about to be invaded, is encapsulated in the word ‘harbinger’.

The exhibition accompanied the online conference Hitting Home: Representations of the Domestic Milieu in Feminist Art. The artist conducted a number of online and in-person walkabouts during the exhibition’s run.

4aug2022 Seminar

The Politics of Design | A Guest Seminar by Federico Freschi, Farieda Nazier and contributing authors

5 August 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted a guest seminar to discuss The Politics of Design: Privilege and Prejudice in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, edited by Federico Freschi, Jane Venis and Farieda Nazier.

Taking a broad definition of design and drawing on the shared histories and legacies of settler colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, The Politics of Design offers a wide-ranging comparative study that focuses specifically on the role of design in creating and perpetuating the privileges and prejudices of racial hierarchies.

Prof Federico Freschi is Head of College and Full Professor at Otago Polytechnic, in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is also a Senior Research Associate with the SARChI Chair.

Politicsofdesign 4aug2022 Booklaunch

The Politics of Design | A Book Launch

4 August 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture hosted the South African launch of The Politics of Design: Privilege and Prejudice in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, edited by Federico Freschi, Jane Venis and Farieda Nazier.
The launch was accompanied by an exhibition in the SARChI Gallery curated by Federico Freschi and Farieda Nazier.

Watch the opening remarks: Click here

Nugent Guest Seminar

Colonial Legacies: Contemporary Lens-based Art and the Democratic Republic of Congo | A Guest Seminar by Gabriella Nugent

21 July 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture and the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg hosted Gabriella Nugent, currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Art History and World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia. Gabriella discussed her most recent book published by Leuven University Press (2021) that examined a generation of contemporary artists born or based in the Congo whose lens-based art attends to the afterlives and mutations of Belgian colonialism in postcolonial Congo.

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Artist Conversation 4: Allen Laing

8 June 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture and the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg hosted the fourth of an Artist Conversation Series with recipients of Alumni Dignitas and Chancellor Awards.

Allen Laing was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal in 2018.

Click here to watch the conversation. 

Uj Sarchi(art) Cloudiahartwig 31may2022 Poster

Artist Conversation 3: Cloudia Hartwig

31 May 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture and the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg hosted the third of an Artist Conversation Series with recipients of Alumni Dignitas and Chancellor Awards.

Cloudia Rivett-Carnac (neé Hartwig) was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal in 2012. She was in conversation with Vedant Nanackchand about her art practice and community engagement.

To watch the conversation click here.

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Artist Conversation 2: Maaike Bakker

24 May 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture and the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg hosted the second of an Artist Conversation Series with recipients of Alumni Dignitas and Chancellor Awards.

Maaike Bakker was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal in 2013.

She was in conversation with Jayne Crawshay-Hall about her art practice to watch click here.

Uj Sarchi(art) Ushaseejarim 17may2022 Poster

Artist Conversation 1: Usha Seejarim

17 May 2022

The SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture and the Department of Visual Art, University of Johannesburg hosted the first of an Artist Conversation Series with recipients of Alumni Dignitas and Chancellor Awards.

Usha Seejarim was the recipient of an Alumni Dignitas Award in 2022.

Click here to watch the conversation about her art practice

Dixie Exhibition

@Bathhurst St., Makhanda: An exhibition by Christine Dixie

16 March 2022 – 30 April 2022

The gallery of the SARChI Chair in SA Art and Visual Culture hosted an exhibition by Christine Dixie @Bathurst St., Makhanda.

The shopfronts of Bathurst St., Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape merge a colonial past with the present. In the prints, woodcut imitates engraving, in the style of illustrated newspapers that transmitted news from the ‘frontier’ to the European ‘centre’ in the nineteenth century. Today, the frame and filters of the cellphone witness new forms of narrative.

Another exhibition of new work by Dixie, Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things, was shown on a similar timeline at Wits Art Museum.

Watch Prof Brenda Schmahmann’s video introduction shown at the exhibition click here

Jaylin Richardson Exhibition Opening Invitation

Mending: An exhibition by Jaylin Richardson

25 November 2021

The gallery of the SARChI Chair in SA Art and Visual Culture hosted an exhibition by Jaylin Richardson, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Arts in Visual Art at the University of Johannesburg (for which she was subsequently awarded a distinction).

Jaylin’s work centred on the reparative, and subversive, work of stitching and suturing through the medium of embroidery in order to visualize and to heal trauma narratives.

The exhibition opening was held online, and introductory words were given by Ms Bronwyn Findlay and Prof Brenda Schmahmann, the supervisors of Jaylin’s study.

Artist Talk 6 Paul Weinberg Tuesday 27 October 2020

Artist Talk 6: Paul Weinberg

27 October 2020

Veteran South African documentary photographer Paul Weinberg introduced his recent projects that focus on documenting community responses to the health and economic crises brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Artist Talk 5 Iléne Bothma 20 October 2020

Artist Talk 5: Iléne Bothma

20 October 2020

Iléne Bothma introduced her most recent solo exhibition Life, Death and all the Fear In-between and contextualised the works as arising out of her intrepid explorations into the ambiguous, overlapping roles of mother, partner, artist, and woman. She conducted an online walkabout of her show at 99Loop Gallery, Cape Town.

View Iléne Bothma's artist talk here:

Artist Talk 4 Senzeni Marasela 13 October 2020

Artist Talk 4: Senzeni Marasela

13 October 2020

Artist Senzeni Marasela discussed her project Ijeremani Lam (2013-2019). Senzeni identified influences ranging from Dolly Parton to Winnie Mandela and Charles Dickens’ Miss Haversham that all describe women who wait in order to contextualise her decision to spend what ended up being 6 years living and working in the costume of, and in many ways, as the character of, ‘Theodora’, who paid homage to her mother and many women who remain unacknowledged.

View Senzeni Marasela’s artist talk here:

Artist Talk 3 Christine Dixie And Helene Van Aswegen 6 October 2020

Artist Talk 3: Christine Dixie and Helene van Aswegen

6 October 2020

Printmaker Christine Dixie collaborated with book-maker Helene van Aswegen to produce an artist’s book Blueprint for the Disorder of Things in 2020, which critically engages with Foucault’s The Order of Things. Dixie and van Aswegen discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the course of the book’s production, and continues themes explored in previous works, notably To Be King.

Artist Talk 2 Usha Seejarim 29 September 2020

Artist Talk 2: Usha Seejarim

29 September 2020

Artist Usha Seejarim talks about her art practice in relation to material and form: how she plays the two off each other to offer parodic, witty commentary on social and artistic norms by foregrounding the domestic environment and rituals of working-class women. She singles out her large-scale ‘abstract painting’ Dishwashing Delight for instance that parodies the self-involved solemnity of, often, white, male Conceptualists by being composed of numerous small square multi-coloured scouring sponges glued onto board.

Author Talk Elizabeth Rankin

Author Talk: Elizabeth Rankin

Wednesday 16 September

How did the Voortrekker Monument frieze come about and how does one negotiate it from a postcolonial perspective? Elizabeth Rankin introduced the book on the Voortrekker Monument frieze that she co-authored with Rolf Michael Schneider, From Memory to Marble. Her presentation followed shortly after the release of the second volume and discussed the ten-year process of researching and writing the book. Elizabeth Rankin is Professor Emeritus (Art History) from the University of Auckland and former Professor (and Dean of Humanities) at Wits University.

View Elizabeth Rankin’s author talk here:

Artist Talk 1 Paul Emmanuel 8 September 2020

Artist Talk 1: Paul Emmanuel

8 September 2020

Paul Emmanuel talks about the various iterations of his ongoing project The Lost Men, which examines issues of masculinity, militarisation, vulnerability, mourning and loss. He also looks forward to his forthcoming exhibition at UJ Arts and Culture in 2021, where he presents new works that also explore memory and loss, but in the context of his own family.

View Paul Emmanuel’s artist talk here:

Neither Here Nor There

Neither Here nor There An Exhibition by Vanessa Tembane

13 November 2019

Vanessa Tembane exhibited her M.Tech body of work at the SARChI Gallery. Vanessa was supervised by Prof. Brenda Schmahmann and co-supervised by Vedant Nanackchand.

Vanessa explored her own experiences of diasporic displacement. The intergenerational chain of communication between herself, her mother and grandmother, the framing of the past wrought by nostalgia, and the role of photography in establishing belonging were the central themes of her body of work, which paid homage to the Mozambiquan capulana.

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A Place Away

A Place Away An Exhibition by Kate’Lyn Ruby Chetty

16 November 2020

Katie exhibited her M.Tech body of work at the SARChI Gallery. Katie was supervised by Prof. Brenda Schmahmann and co-supervised by Landi Raubenheimer. In her exhibition and dissertation, Katie explored how the narratives told by photographs in a family album tend to exclude evidence of suffering and instead often represent idealised family life. Her extended family had settled in, and taken photographs of, Sawoti, an area in KwaZulu-Natal where many indentured labourers from India settled after their contracts had expired. Invoking a critical and empathic lens onto nostalgia, Katie reinterpreted the idea of Sawoti as an idyllic space that omitted reference to the family’s challenges and losses experienced during indenture and apartheid. Her exhibition opening coincided with the 160-year landing of the first people from India bound for indenture in South Africa

Watch the online exhibition opening here

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Photography And Spirituality

Photography and Spirituality A Guest Seminar by Paul Weinberg

22 October 2019

Paul Weinberg is a research associate with the SARChI Chair in Art and Visual Culture, an award-winning photographer and founder member of Afrapix.

He presented his recent project “Earthsongs”, which documents and interprets landscapes that are sites of spiritual practice. He demonstrated how this work follows on from a deep engagement with his previous photographic projects that recorded people’s spiritual practices in Southern Africa, published in his book Moving Spirit (2006).

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Art Museums In South Africa Today

Art Museums in South Africa today: Who wields the power? A Guest Seminar by Marilyn Martin

3 October 2019

Marilyn Martin posed urgent questions around the politics and directions of contemporary South African art museums. She asked: Who wields the power now that our established but struggling national and municipal art museums have sunk into the shadows? Have males, money and the market captured the art museum space? Are the new private (self-described as ‘public’) institutions immune from critique and scrutiny?

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Between Dreams And Realities

Between Dreams and Realities: A History of the South African National Gallery, 1871-2017 The Johannesburg launch of Marilyn Martin’s book

2 October 2019

Former director of the South African National Gallery, Marilyn Martin was in conversation with Ishmael Mohammed, CEO of the Market Theatre and former director of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda. Based on extensive research and interviews, her book revisits important exhibitions, events and forgotten controversies. Martin highlighted achievements of directions, who often faced political agendas and strained relationships within and outside the institution.

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Understanding Ndebele Arts and Culture: Between Exploitation and Appreciation A Guest Seminar by Craniv Ambolia Boyd

9 April 2019

Craniv Ambolia Boyd was a visiting PhD student at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA). Pursuing his PhD at the Freie Universitat Berlin, Craniv introduced graduate students to methodological as well as practical strategies available to pursue fieldwork, while contextualising his own experiences conducting fieldwork amongst Ndebele textile makers and bead workers.

Understanding Ndebele Arts and Culture: Between Exploitation and Appreciation

What Is Hidden And Revealed

What is Hidden and Revealed: Photographs of Fabric A Guest Seminar by Marcella Hackbardt

7 August 2019

Marcella Hackbardt is Professor of Studio Art at Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio) and was in Johannesburg as a guest of the Curriculum Division at the Wits School of Education. She discussed a wide variety of photographic representations of fabric and considered the messaging contained within them. In responding to form, function, fantasy and faith, Marcella outlined the productive ways in which studio art may be informed by theoretical underpinnings.

A Global Menagerie: Captivating Portraits of Predators and Preys A Guest Seminar by Pearlie Baluyut

6 March 2019

Pearlie Baluyut, Curator and Lecturer of Art History at the State University of New York (Oneonta), discussed curatorial strategies pertaining to the exhibition of artists whose works may be considered conventionally ‘difficult’ and/or ‘different’. Her case study was drawn from her recent curatorial project with the Taiwanese artist Tawan Wattuya, who was available, via Skype, to engage with seminar attendees.

A Global Menagerie: Captivating Portraits of Predators and Preys

Kaliyutopia An exhibition by Kiveshan Thumbiran

29 January 2019

Kaliyutopia

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Kiveshan exhibited his M.Tech body of work in the SARChI Gallery. He was supervised by Prof Brenda Schmahmann and co-supervised by Minette Vari. His work engaged with issues in contemporary South Africa by drawing on tropes and narratives of classical Hindu mythology and by asserting his identity as a South African Hindu millennial. His exhibition was featured in the Mail & Guardian https://mg.co.za/article/2019-02-12-art-making-and-world-building-in-kaliyu-topia and on the website Urban Asian https://urbanasian.com/crown-the-brown/2019/03/exclusive-interview-with-kiveshan-thumbiran-a-south-african-indian-visual-artist-dushant-naidu/.

Kiveshan’s exhibition opening is available here:

Reconstructing Womanhood

Reconstructing Womanhood An exhibition by Hilary Keegan

November 2018

Hilary exhibited her M.Tech body of work in the SARChI Gallery. She was supervised by Prof. Karen von Veh and co-supervised by Shonisani Netshia.

Hilary Keegan examined Mary and Eve stereotypes in order to work through the religious allusions that underscores profane female identity, intended to compel obedience and devotion to a ‘pure’ feminine ideal. She engaged with the deconstruction and reconstruction of her female identity through a series of paintings and constructed altarpieces. The resulting three cycles of artworks act as metaphors for her reconstructed womanhood through a fairy tale journey.

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N's Apparatus

N’s Apparatus An Exhibition by Allen Laing

20 October 2018

Allen Laing’s M.Tech body of work was exhibited in the Johannesburg City Library. He was supervised by Prof. Brenda Schmahmann and co-supervised by David Paton. His M.Tech was awarded a distinction and the Chancellor’s Medal Chancellor’s medal for the most meritorious master’s study of 2018 at FADA.

Through the imaginative encounters of his alter ego (N.) with Professor Walter Roald Etterforsker, purportedly a 19th century ethnographer, Allen’s work combined whimsical, inventive and serious examination of issues around societal constructions of masculinities, colonial encounters, and the documenting and archiving of local knowledge during colonial occupation, which he demonstrated continue to have relevance in contemporary society.

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Tacit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge A Guest Seminar by Jessica Hemmings

21 September 2018

Jessica Hemmings, Professor of Crafts and Vice-Prefekt of Resarch at the Academy of Design and Crafts, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, presented a seminar on how ‘tacit knowledge’, commonly thought of as knowledge that is held in the body. She discussed its positioning within humanities discourse and its applicability and potential in open-ended, arts- and humanities-based research through a series of examples.

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​behind The Warp Women And Weaving At Rorke's Drift

​behind The Warp Women And Weaving At Rorke's Drift 1

Behind the Warp: Women and Weaving at Rorke’s Drift An exhibition curated by Philippa Hobbs and Jenny Marsden

28 August 2018

The artistic contribution by woman weavers of the ELC Art and Craft Centre ‘Rorke’s Drift’ was explored and acknowledged in this exhibition. The range of historic material that narrates this little-understood tapestry practice is drawn from the Power, Gender and Community Art Archive (PGCAA). This archive is a collaboration between Special Collections at the University of Johannesburg and the SARChI Chair in Art and Visual Culture. Material relating to the ELC Art and Craft Centre at Rorke’s Drift was repatriated from Sweden by Philippa Hobbs in 2017 and 2018. She and archivist Jenny Marsden constructed the archive by October 2018.

Eroticism, Morality and Measure

Eroticism, Morality And Measure

Photographs Of Mandela Published By The Weekly Mail

Resisting Erasure: Photographs of Mandela published by the Weekly Mail and New Nation during Apartheid A Guest Seminar by Bryan Trabold

1 August 2018

Bryan Trabold, Associate Professor and Departmental Chair of English at Suffolk University (Boston, Massachusetts), discussed how photographs of Nelson Mandela published by the Weekly Mail and the New Nation newspapers during apartheid framed and advanced the various narratives of Mandela’s iconicity in the apartheid struggle. His seminar coincided with the Johannesburg launch of his book Rhetorics of Resistance: Opposition Journalism in Apartheid South Africa (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).