​The Research Centre (RC), Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) is an integral part of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), spanning across all of its eight departments. The RC’s conceptual underpinnings are based upon the thematics of visually embodying identity in art and design practices.

The overarching aim of the RC is to develop a strong research ethos and culture around the focus of visual identities in representation. Particular emphasis is placed on post-apartheid, post-colonial ‘South African’ cultural identities which are currently emerging and in formation in South Africa as a rapidly transforming society. Since 1994, attempts to celebrate South Africa’s transformation from minority to majority rule have given rise to multiple constructions of ‘post-apartheid identities’. Taking its cue from the relevance of transforming and constantly evolving conceptions of South African identities (individual and collective) in our post-1994 democracy, the underpinning thematic of the RC attempts to identify and address ways in which these identities might be articulated and realised through visual representation. This core thematic of VIAD, explores these negotiated, performed, re-conceptualised and/or re-imagined visual identities from a primarily Pan-African, post-colonial perspective, whilst considering these as part of a broader post-modern paradigm, focussing on questions of how we, as ‘post-apartheid’ South Africans, might begin to ‘image ourselves’. This diversity spans across disciplines and encompasses various forms of representation.

In order to realise the above aim, since its inception in June 2007, the focus of the RC has been on the following objectives: 

  • Developing FADA as a renowned centre for practice-based research through engagement with issues of image in relation to text within art and design practices.

  • Developing a body of knowledge in the area of visual identities in art and design through the contributions of its Research Fellows, Affiliated Researchers,  Staff Researchers and through post-graduate research. 

The RC houses the Research Niche Area (RNA) Visualising Identity in a Post-Colonial Environment. The RC and RNA work systemically, each serving to bolster and support research projects outputs under the thematics of visual identity.


Leora Farber
Director: Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design
Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture
Bunting Road Campus
University of Johannesburg
Email: leoraf@uj.ac.za 
Tel:  +27 (0)11 559 1393 
Fax: +27 (0)11 559 1136