ijusi – Design based in African Experience is a traveling exhibition initiated by the Michaelis Galleries at the University of Cape Town and is recognized as one of the official World Design Capital 2014 projects.
The exhibition is a curated ‘retroflective’ of Durban-based designer and publisher, Garth Walker’s ijusi magazine - an experimental, non-commercial design magazine first published by Walker in 1995 that has over the years acquired a venerated cult like following .
Following South Africa’s first democratic elections, ijusi encourages and promotes a visual design language rooted in our quintessential South African experience. Drawing from all 29 issues of ijusi, from 1995 – 2014, the exhibition focuses on the question which ijusi has posed from the beginning: “What makes me African, and what does that ‘look’ like?”
Based on an ‘Afrocentric Design Adventure’, Garth Walker released the first issue of ijusi from his studio. Thought at the time to be the one and only issue, Ijusi #1 was designed solely by Walker, with all text written by Siobhan Gunning. With the success of ijusi’s first two issues, Walker then invited both South African and International designers, writers, and artists to contribute. Over the following years, subsequent themed issues have made invaluable contributions to the ongoing discourse surrounding representation and identity in South Africa, specifically within the contexts of Graphic Design, Illustration, Typography, Writing, and Photography. From its onset, ijusi has effectively showcased a burgeoning South African visual culture, which has come to be recognized for its quality and diversity.
Due to ijusi’s strictly non-commercial nature, Walker launched a portfolio of prints with Rooke Gallery to ensure ijusi’s potential, inviting a selection of South Africa's leading artists and photographers, world-renowned graphic designers as well as local unknown designers to submit. These three portfolios and the work selected from each ijusi issue, for ijusi – Design based in African Experience, purposefully blur the supposed distinctions between Fine Art and Design.
With the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa in mind, the ijusi magazines can be seen as a historic series of documents, testaments to a developing country dealing with various socio-economic stratifications and political dimensions. With an often-satirical approach, ijusi offers a platform for discovery, highlighting the wealth of talent, rich traditions, and strong sense of heritage in South Africa.
Curated by: Professor Stephen Inggs, Garth Walker and Josephine Higgins.
KZNSA curatorial management, Bren Brophy
Contributors Include: Roger Ballen, Jonathan Barnbrook, Lauren Beukes, Willem Boshoff, Katherine Bull, Brandt & Conrad Botes, Jean Brundrit, David Goldblatt, Pieter Hugo, Stephen Inggs, Mark & Anton Kannemeyer, William Kentridge, Michael MacGarry, Sne Mtetwa, Stefan Sagmeister, Mikhael Subotzky, Guy Tillim, Sean O’Toole, Brode Vosloo and Garth Walker, amongst many others.
Garth Walker - Garth Walker founded Orange Juice Design in Durban in 1995, one of South Africa’s best-known graphic design studios and one of few with an international reputation. In 2008, Walker again went solo with his new studio, Mister Walker. Walker has been widely recognised with over 100 design awards, including a Grand Prix at the Loeries, and published in at least 80 magazines and books. He is represented in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, Biblioteque Nationale de France, Victoria & Albert Museum, The Smithsonian, and numerous university and academic collections worldwide.