SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture
Brenda Schmahmann is the author of Through the Looking Glass: Representations of South African Women Artists (2004), Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld (2006), Picturing Change: Curating Visual Culture at Post-Apartheid Universities (2013) and The Keiskamma Art Project: Restoring Hope and livelihoods (2016). She is the editor or co-editor of Material Matters (2000), Between Union and Liberation: Women Artists in South Africa, 1910-1994, Public Art in South Africa: Bronze Warriors and Plastic Presidents (2017); she also co-edited (with Kim Miller) a special issue of African Arts on gender (2012), edited a special issue of Textile: Cloth and Culture on intertextuality and parody (2017) and co-edited (with Kim Miller) two special issues of de arte. Her most recent book (co-edited with Federico Freschi and Lize van Robbroeck) is Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism (2020). She has published more than 75 scholarly articles or book chapters as well as many reviews, and has curated two large-scale travelling exhibitions. She has a rating of B2 from the National Research Foundation.
Telephone: 011 559 7220
Irene Bronner held a postdoctoral fellowship with the SARChI Chair in Art and Visual Culture from August 2016 to June 2019. For research during this time, she received a University of Johannesburg Postdoctoral Research Fellows’ Excellence Award. In her PhD (University of Johannesburg, 2016), Irene examined representations of domestic workers in post-apartheid South African art practice. Her primary supervisor was Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; a compilation clip of her graduation may be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Yj9uSEFfjs. Irene has published in local and international journals, notably in Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture and Woman’s Art Journal. Her research interests centre on feminist studies in the visual arts, with a focus on contemporary Southern Africa, working principally with feminist, queer and postcolonial cultural theory as well as issues of memory, affect, gender, and the aftermath of trauma. She has a rating of Y1 from the National Research Foundation.
Telephone: 011 559 7225
Postdoctoral Research Fellows
Philippa Hobbs (since July 2019)
Philippa Hobbs’s PhD (University of Johannesburg, 2019) examined issues of ideology and female agency in tapestries made at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre, Rorke’s Drift, during the Swedish period 1961-1976. She was supervised by Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; a compilation clip of her graduation may be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG_kGsnkUY0. She was instrumental in collating the Power, Gender and Community Art Archive and lodging it at the University of Johannesburg Library. Philippa has co-authored three publications (with Elizabeth Rankin), including Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke (2011) and Rorke’s Drift: Empowering Prints (2003). As Curator of the MTN Art Collection (2004-2014), Philippa curated national travelling exhibitions, also editing accompanying publications, notably Messages and Meaning (2005). Philippa is currently extending her PhD research to some of the outcomes of the Rorke’s Drift practice, such as the Thabana-li-Mele weavery in Lesotho and Allina Ndebele’s independent workshop in Northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Elia Eliev (since January 2021)
Dr. Elia Eliev (they/them) received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Gender and Feminist Studies at the University of Ottawa (Canada). They also hold an MA in Critical, Cross-Cultural, Cybermedia from the Haute École d’art et de design, Genève (Switzerland), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from the University of Ottawa. Their research interests include: global contemporary art, queer of colour theory, queer of colour critique, critical race theory, afrofeminism, critical masculinity studies, postcolonial and decolonial theories, gender and sexuality studies in the Middle East (in particular, Lebanon), Africa, and the Global South.
Melissa Gerber (since January 2022)
Melissa Gerber obtained her PhD in Music (University of the Free State) in 2021. In her thesis entitled “(De)coding Contemporary South African Opera: Multimodality and the Creation of Meaning, 2010-2018,” she unpacked the multimodal character of opera production and constructed a framework to map the reciprocal processes of meaning-making between creators, designers, performers, and audiences. Initially trained as a classical vocalist, Melissa received her BMus and MMus degrees in Performing Arts (both awarded with distinction) from the University of Pretoria and a Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Royal College of Music, London. Building on her PhD, her current research focuses on the intersections between opera production and its material remnants within the broader network of visual culture of apartheid South Africa. Her research has been published in conference proceedings in the UK and South Africa, and recently in SAMUS: South African Music Studies.
Theo Sonnekus (since May 2021)
Theo obtained a PhD in Visual Arts from Stellenbosch University in 2016 and is currently researching a selection of coffee-table books of homoerotic male nude photography published by Alternative Books in South Africa in the late apartheid period (1981-1991). The project invites critical perspectives on apartheid-era censorship, desire and pleasure, nationalism and heteronormativity, and the politics of multiracial representation. He recently contributed chapters to the Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness (2022) and Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism (Wits University Press, 2020).
Associate Postdoctoral Research Fellows
Alex Halligey is a Postdoctoral Fellow at JIAS (Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study), based at the University of Johannesburg. Her doctoral thesis was published by Routledge in 2019 as Participatory Theatre and the Urban Everyday in South Africa: Place and Play in Johannesburg. Her doctorate from the University of Cape Town was awarded in 2018. Both examine the daily place-making practices in a cluster of three Johannesburg suburbs: Bertrams, Lorentzville and Judith’s Paarl, explored through a year-long participatory, theatre-based public art project Halligey ran from 2015 to 2016. Currently, she is developing a collection of scholarly and creative contributions critically engaging the work of the South African, women-centred theatre arts collective, the Mothertongue Project.
Former Postdoctoral Research Fellows
Irene Bronner (2016-2019)
Currently Senior Lecturer with the SARChI Chair in Art and Visual Culture, FADA, University of Johannesburg.
Malcolm Corrigall (2016-2018)
Currently Postdoctoral Researcher at Bournemouth University, UK., and a Research Associate with the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg
Annemi Conradie (2019)
Currently Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, University of the North West.
Mathodi Motsamayi (2019-2020)
Currently exploring opportunities in the academic and heritage sectors in KZN.
PhD Candidates and their research projects
Firdoze Bulbulia, “#memoryisaweapon: The Personal is Political” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann).
Hazel Cuthbertson, ” “Ideas of Africanness in Alexis Preller’s Discovery of the Sea Route around Africa mural” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann).
S’nothile Gumede, [Project to be determined] (Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann).
Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, “Place branding in advertising campaigns by the Lagos state government” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann; Co-superviser: Prof Deirdre Pretorius).
Khanya Mthethwa, “Decoloniality: An investigation of how coloniality of knowledge has impacted on BaVenda and AmaZulu waist belts”(Supervisor: Prof Anitra Nettleton; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann).
Laylaa Randera, “Fallism and Black Lives Matter: Visual interventions and Protest Art” (Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann).
Sinethemba Twalo, “Affect, Objecthood and Blackness in Dineo Seshee Bopape’s Works” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann).
Dineke van der Walt, “Curating Difficult Knowledge: Engagements with Sexual Violence in Exhibitions from the Early 21st Century” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann).Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Irene Bronner, “Representations of Domestic Workers in Post-Apartheid South African Art Practice”; Currently Senior Lecturer, SARChI Chair, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, email@example.com
Jayne Crawshay-Hall, “Reconceptualising curatorial strategies and roles: Autonomous curating in Johannesburg between 2007 and 2016”; Currently Academic Head at Open Window Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org
Roxy do Rego, “Parodies of Classical Mythologies by Women Artists in Post-Apartheid South Africa”; Currently Art History and Art Practical Lecturer, Humanities Education department, University of Pretoria, email@example.com
Philippa Hobbs, “Ideology, imagery and female agency in tapestry at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre, Rorke’s Drift, during the Swedish period 1961-1976”; Currently Postdoctoral Research Fellow, SARChI Chair, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deléne Human, “Censorship and proscription of visual art in apartheid South Africa”(Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann). Currently History of Art, Practical Art and Art Methodologies Lecturer in the Department of Humanities Education at the University of Pretoria, email@example.com
Thabang Monoa, “The exploration of Blackness in Afrofuturist aesthetics” (Supervisor: Prof. Brenda Schmahmann). Currently Lecturer in Art History in the Michaelis School of Art, University of Cape Town, Thabang.firstname.lastname@example.org
MA and M.Tech Candidates
(Supervisor: Dr Irene Bronner; Co-supervisor: Prof David Paton)
(Supervisor: Dr Marlize Groenewald)
(Supervisor: Mr. Amukelani Muthambi and Prof Deirdre Pretorius)
MA and M.Tech Graduates
(Supervisor: Landi Raubenheimer; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Prof Kim Berman)
Ra’eesah Hoosen [under examination]
(Supervisor: Prof Deirdre Pretorius)
(Supervisor: Dr David Paton; Co-supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Vedant Nanackchand)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Prof David Paton)
(Supervisor: Dr Anthony Ambala; Co-supervisor: Landi Raubenheimer)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Minnette Vari)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Bronwyn Findley)
(Supervisor: Dr Marelize Groenewald)
(Supervisor: Prof Brenda Schmahmann; Co-supervisor: Vedant Nanackchand)
Current B.Tech/Honours Candidates
No candidates in 2022.
- Alexia Ferreira
- Sinead Fletcher
- Carey Jayanandham
Senior Research Associate
Federico Freschi is Head of College and Full Professor at Otago Polytechnic, in Dunedin, New Zealand. Prior to Sept 2019, he was the Executive Dean of and Full Professor at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. His primary research interest is into the political iconography of South African public buildings, with a secondary line of research into the construction of the canon of modern South African art. He has published widely on these and other subjects. In 2016, he was the South African curator of ‘Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning’ at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, the first exhibition of Matisse’s work on the African continent. He is co-editor (with Brenda Schmahmann and Lize van Robbroeck) of Troubling Images: Visual Culture and the Politics of Afrikaner Nationalism (2020). Federico has a rating of C1 from the National Research Foundation.
Paul Weinberg is a well-known and award-winning South African documentary photographer, filmmaker, writer, curator and archivist. He was a founder member of Afrapix and South, the collection photo agencies that gained international recognition for their role in documenting apartheid and resistance to it. Since 1990, he has shifted towards a focus on feature rather than news photography. He is based in Cape Town. Paul has a rating of C1 from the National Research Foundation.
Kim Miller is a Professor and holds the Jane Oxford Keiter Professorship of women’s and gender studies of art history at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Miller’s scholarship, which examines the relationship between visual culture, gender and power in African arts, includes her forthcoming book, How Did They Dare? Women’s Activism and the Work of Memory in South African Commemorative Art.
Malcolm Corrigall is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Bournemouth University. His PhD (SOAS, University of London) examined the history of the Chinese Camera Club of South Africa. During a postdoctoral fellowship with the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture (2016-2018), he researched neglected photographers and photographic traditions in South Africa. His current research interests include digital art in South Africa and the relationship between Nigerian art and politics.