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Dr. Ruth Sacks

Name: 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: MFA (UCT); PhD Humanities (WISER Wits)
Short Biography:
Dr Ruth Sacks is an academic and visual artist whose practice is based in the medium of artist books. Her first academic book, Congo Style: From Belgian Art Nouveau to African Independence will be published by Michigan University Press later this year. Research interests include Africa in the Anthropocene and the post-independence aesthetics of the African City. She is currently one of the co-directors of the large-scale group project Response-Ability, taking place at the Joubert Park Greenhouse Project. Sacks has exhibited widely locally and internationally, including at: 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):
Sacks, R. 2021 (forthcoming). ‘Congo Style: From Art Nouveau to African Independence’. Michigan University Press and Wits University Press
Recent publications (journal articles):
Sacks, R. and Thumbran, J. (forthcoming). ‘Rethinking Resilience: South Africa and Self Reliance’, In Sacks, R and Thumbran, J. (eds) Social Dynamics, Special Issue: Rethinking Resilience
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.
Sacks, R. 2016. ‘Anonymous Objects as Exhibition Organisms’, In Bowker, S. and Bremner, C. (eds.) Fusion Journal 09,Anonymous. The Void in Visual Culture, Charles Stuart University, Australia.
Recent Conference Proceedings:
Sacks, R. ‘The City Can Speak for Itself’, In Liebow, E., Proceedings of African Futures Conference, Vol 2, Issue 1.
Sacks, R. 2015. ‘Looking for the Congo in Congo Style’, Proceedings of the conference: Admired as well as Overlooked Beauty: Architecture and Urbanism of Historicism, Art Nouveau, Early Modern and Traditionalism, Češka, Brno, Czech Republic, pp. 231 – 243.
Recent Conference and Seminar Papers:
2021: Unnatural Nature: Reimagining the Colonial Greenhouse, In Whose Place? Vestiges of the Colonial Landscape in Africa, Wits History Workshop, Johannesburg, SA <forthcoming>
2019:Questioning Resilience, The Third African Studies Association in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
2018:Loaded Inheritance: African Art and Decolonisation, African Studies Association Annual Conference, Atlanta, USA
2017:The City Can Speak for Itself, Africa in the World: Shifting Boundaries and Knowledge Production, African Studies Association, Johannesburg, SA
2017:Lived Remainders: The Contemporary Lives of Iron Hotels in the Congo, Wits City Institute Fellows Seminar, Wits University
2017:Tracing Art Nouveau in Mbanza Ngungu, III coup De fouet International Congress, Institut del Paisatge Urbà, Barcelona, Spain
2017:Designing Congolese Modernism, 17th ACASA Triennial, Accra, Ghana
2017:Creative Practice in the Nervous University, Artsearch Symposium, WSOA, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
2016:New Urban Epistemologies, Decolonising the University in Africa, University of South Africa, Pretoria (UNISA), SA
2016:Anonymous Objects as Exhibition Organisms, WiSER WISH Seminar, Wits University, SA
2016:‘Style Congo’ in the Post Colony, College Arts Association (CAA), Washington DC, USA; Object Agencies, Médiation passée, présente et future, Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
2014:Looking for the Congo in ‘Congo Style,’CCAA Seminar, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, SA
2014:Revisiting ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ via the colonial exhibition, Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
2014:Art Nouveau Dreamscapes and the Nightmare of the African Colony, WiSER WISH seminar (Writing from the Global South workshop), Johannesburg, SA
2014:Fictional hierarchies in the fin de siècle total artwork, Gesamtkunstwerk. A Concept for all Times and Places Conference, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Journal Editing:
Sacks, R and Thumbran, J (eds) (2021), ‘Rethinking Resilience’, Special edition ofSocial Dynamics<forthcoming>
Johannesburg Lasts Collective (eds) (2021), ‘Johannesburg Lasts: Last, Lasting, Lost’, … Ellipses. Journal for Creative Practice, Issue 4. [Online]
Koide, E, De Groof, M. and Sacks, R. (eds) (2018),A Global South Dialogue on African Art and Historical Narratives from DR Congo, Artl@s Bulletin, Vol. 7. Issue 1
Published Artists’ Books
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas (2013), Garamond Press, Johannesburg, SA
An Extended Alphabet (2011),Expodium, Utrecht, TheNetherlands
False Friends (2010), Kunstverein Publishing, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Selected Solo Exhibition
2017: Matterings, The Point of Order, Johannesburg, SA
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
2010: False Friends, Kunstverein, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2007: Open Studio, Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux, France
2005: When the Inside Stays Inside, João Ferreira Fine Art, Cape Town, SA
Selected Group Exhibitions
2020-21: Response-Ability (Co-Director), The Greenhouse Project, Johannesburg, SA (sponsored by the Prince Claus Fund and Goethe Institute Johannesburg)
2020: Here Comes Summer,Museum Cultuur Strombeek, Brussels, Belgium.
2020: Rally, Melpark Sports Centre, Johannesburg (Johannesburg Lasts)
2019: AMPERES, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (MUKhA), 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: Contemporary South African Artists’ Books, 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)
2009: Performa 09, produced by the Museum for African Art, New York, US (curator: Roselee Goldberg, facilitated by the museum for African Art in New York) (catalogue)
Dada South?,South African National Gallery, Cape Town, SA (catalogue)
Test Patterns, San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco, US (curator: Leigh Illion)
Futur, Frac Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France (curator: Marie Canet)
2008: ZA giovane arte dal Sudafrica,Palazzo de Papesse, Siena, Italy (curator: Lorenzo Fuzi) (catalogue)Scratching the Surface Vol. I, AVA, Cape Town, SA (curated by Gabi Ngcobo) 2007: The African Pavilion(Luanda Pop_Check List),52ndVenice Biennale,Italy (curators: Fernando Alvim & Simon Njami)
2007: Fresh II, Grahamstown, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, SA (curator: Jay Pather)
2006: 1st Architecture, Art and Landscape Biennial of the Canaries,Los Lavaderos, Tenerife, Canary Islands (curator: Antonio Zaya) (catalogue)
Funded Residencies
2021: Nafasi Art Space, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania<forthcoming>
2014: Pro Helvetia SADC residency, Kinshasa, DR Congo
2014: Osthang Project, Darmstadt, Germany
2013: International Residency at Récollets, Paris, France
2008-2009: Hooger Instituut Voor Scone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium
2007: Cité Des Arts (ABSA Atelier Award), Paris, France
Selected Awards, Fellowships and Subsidies:
2019: Wits PhD to Monograph Publishing Award, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA
2019: Ivan Karp / African Critical Inquiries Program Workshop Award
2019: Wits PhD to Monograph Publishing Award, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA
2017: Awaiting Examiners Grant, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
2016: Completion Grant, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SA
2013 – 15: Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Grant for Doctoral Studies
2015: Ivan Karp / African Critical Inquiries Program Doctoral Research Award
2014: National Arts Council of South Africa Bursary for Postgraduate Study
2013: French Institute of South Africa Publishing Grant
2012-13: South African Season in France & French Season in South Africa Project Grants
2009: National Arts Council Bursary for Overseas Study
2008: Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Grant for Overseas Study