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Senior Lecturer
Name: Dr Ruth Sacks
Location: 125, FADA Building Bunting Road Campus
FADA Visual Art Permanent Academic Staff  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +27(0)11 559 1705


About Dr. Ruth Sacks

Lectures in:

History and Theory of Art I
History and Theory of Art II
History and Theory of Art III
Postgraduate Studies

Qualifications: BAFA (UCT) MFA (UCT); PhD Humanities (WISER, Wits)

Short Biography:

Dr Ruth Sacks ( is a visual artist and academic whose practice is based in the medium of artist books, sculptural installations and interdisciplinary writing. Her first academic book, Congo Style: From Belgian Art Nouveau to African Independence was published by Michigan University Press in 2023. The Remaindering (2022) is her most recent artist book. Research interests include Africa in the Anthropocene and the post-independence aesthetics of the African City. Sacks has exhibited widely locally and internationally, including at: CIVA Museum and Archives (Brussels), M KHA Museum of Contemporary Art (Antwerp), ZKM | Centre for Arts and Media (Karlsruhe), Performa09 (New York), the African Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, the National Museums of Kenya (Nairobi), the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Kunstverein (Amsterdam) and Extraspazio (Rome).

Recent publications (books, single authored):

Sacks, R. (2023) Congo Style: From Art Nouveau to African Independence, Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press. DOI:

Recent publications (book chapter, edited volume):

Sacks, R. (2023) ‘Behind Johannesburg: Plants and Possible Futures in an Industrialised Hinterland’ In Gupta et al (eds.) Hinterlands,  Planetary Hinterlands: Extraction, Abandonment and Care, Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-24243-4_18

Recent publications (journal articles):

Sacks R. and Thumbran, J. (2022) ‘Rethinking Resilience: South Africa and Self Reliance’, In Sacks, R and Thumbran, J. (eds) Social Dynamics, Special Issue: Rethinking Resilience, Taylor & Francis.

Sacks, R. (2020)  ‘Sites of Unfinished Independence in Johannesburg and Kinshasa’, In Murray, N., Pyper, B. and Weintraub, J. (eds.) Critical African Studies Vol. 11, Issue I, Special Edition Secret Affinities, Taylor & Francis.

Sacks, R. (2018) ‘Lived Remainders: The contemporary lives of iron hotels in the Congo’, In Douchet, I., Frichot, H. and Smith, C. (eds.) Architectural Theory Review Vol. 22, Issue I, Special Edition Resist, Reclaim, Speculate: Situated Perspectives on Architecture in the City,

Taylor & Francis.

Recent Conference and Seminar Papers:
2023: ‘Imagining Africa in the Postcolonial City: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Congo Style, African Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco. 
2022: ‘The Everyday Materiality of Colonial Buildings’, Lagos Studies Association, University of Lagos [online]
2022: ‘What Can Art Bring to African Studies on a Wounded Planet?’, Africa-Europe: Reciprocal Perspectives, Albert Ludwig University, Freiburg, Germany
2021: ‘Between the Botanical Garden and Contemporary Art’, In Whose Place: Confronting Vestiges of the Colonial Landscape in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand [online]
2021: ‘Inner City Planting in Dialogue with the Hinterland’, Hinterlands Workshop, online
2019: ‘Questioning Resilience’, The Third African Studies Association in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

Sacks, R and Thumbran, J. (eds) Social Dynamics, Special Issue: Rethinking Resilience, Taylor & Francis.

The Remaindering (2022), Garamond Press, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas (2013), Garamond Press, Johannesburg, South Africa
An Extended Alphabet (2011), Expodium, Utrecht, The Netherlands
False Friends (2010), Kunstverein Publishing, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Recent Solo Exhibitions
2022: Concrete Ecologies, Pulp Paperworks, Johannesburg, South Africa
2017: Matterings, The Point of Order, Johannesburg, South Africa 
2015: Open Endings, TTTT, Gent, Belgium
2013: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas, Museé Jules Verne, Amiens, France
2012: 2,000 Meters Above the Sea, Center for Historical Reenactments, Johannesburg, SA
2010: Double-Sided Accumulated, Extraspazio, Rome, Italy


Recent Group Exhibitions 

2023: Style Congo: Heritage and Heresy, CIVA Museum & Archive, Brussels, Belgium (curated by Sammy Baloji, Silvia Franceschini, Nikolaus Hirsch, Estelle Lecaille (cat)
2023: Overwhelmed, UJ Gallery, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
2022: Situated Makings, FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
2021: Response-Ability, Greenhouse Project, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2021: Power of 35! ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2020: Here Comes Summer, Museum Cultuur Strombeek, Brussels, Belgium.
2020: Rally, Melpark Sports Centre, Johannesburg (Johannesburg Lasts)
2019: AMPERES, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M KHA), Belgium
(curator: Nav Haq)
2019-15: Future Africa: Visions in Time, Makerere Art Gallery, Kampala, Uganda; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; Goethe Institut South Africa, Johannesburg, SA; National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya; Bayreuth Academy, Germany (catalogue)
2017: Booknesses, FADA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016: African Art Book Fair (featured artist), Dakar, Senegal (curator: Katja Gentric)
2015: A New Spirit in Booking, Museum Cultuur Strombeek, Brussels, Belgium
(curator: Luc Derycke)
You Love Me, You Love Me Not, Galeria Municipal do Porto, Portugal (curator: Suzana Sousa)
Monologues, Aardklop Festival, Potchefstroom, South Africa (curated by Meredith Randall)
2014: Book arts: Artist’s books, Gallery AoP, Johannesburg, South Africa
Suspicious Minds, Iziko Annexe, Cape Town, South Africa
2014: Nesting Narratives, GoetheonMain, Johannesburg, South Africa
2013: !Kauru, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, South Africa (curator: Melissa Goba)
Back and Forth, South London Gallery, London, UK (curator: Marie Canet)
Regions A-G, Johannesburg City Library, Johannesburg, South Africa
NOPX|artbook|2012|2013, NOPX|limitededitionpics, Turin, Italy
2011: The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989, ZKM Center for Art & Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (curators: Andrea Buddensieg & Peter Weibel) (catalogue)
Don’t/Panic, Durban Art Gallery, South Africa (curator: Gabi Ncobo) (catalogue)
Malleability Revisited, Expodium, Utrecht, the Netherlands (catalogue)