Durban’s KZNSA Gallery will convene a forum to discuss the role of South African Social Art and its significance after 20 years of democracy in a day-long seminar to be held at the Gallery on 15 March.

  • 14 March 2014


Towards a working concept of Socially Engaged Art in 2014

Seminar date: 15 March, 2014
9:00am – 4pm,
Venue: KZNSA Gallery, Glenwood

RSVP  for attendance: or tel: 031 277 1705

Durban’s KZNSA Gallery will convene a forum to discuss the role of South African Social Art and its significance after 20 years of democracy in a day-long seminar to be held at the Gallery on 15 March.

The objective is to engage in the context and content of contemporary Social Art in 2014 and, through case studies, explore the possibility of a working concept going forward. This concept will inform the KZNSA’s NLDTF funded exhibition, art education and outreach projects for the 2014/15 season.

The KZNSA Gallery is grateful for support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) for the 2014/15 year.

The seminar will bring together six relevant art experts who will present case studies as their best examples of contemporary social art. The seminar will be open to the public and the afternoon plenary session will allow for audience engagement with the panel.

“We hope to bring together key stakeholders : art teaching institutions, curators, gallerists, city officials in arts and culture and the general public to timeously grapple the notion of contemporary Social Art practice 20 years into our democracy,” explains Peter McKenzie: President of the KZNSA Gallery.

“The country’s long history of socially-engaged art could and should provide working paradigms for the notion of social art. Yet it is clear that 20 years after apartheid the political, cultural and social contexts have a correlation to the trajectory of creative practice in the same period. At issue for this seminar is exploring examples of contemporary South  African art that engages, translates, reflects and explores new creative vernaculars that could prescribe a working concept for social art in the future and how it interfaces with the social challenges that confront us,” continues McKenzie.

Success of the socially engaged art projects depends on the relationships developed between artists, communities, project organisers and the organisations who deliver services within those communities.

For more info – contact KZNSA, KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban: 031 277 1705 /

RSVP  Essential for attendance

Programme: Saturday, 15 March, 2014
Panelists (provisional)

Bongi Dhlomo: artist, curator

When Art talks to truth and Art talks the truth.

The artworks that irked the Minister.....The Spear that ticked the ruling party.
The artworks by young women artists that made the Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulu Xingwana leave the exhibition citing rushing to an emergency meeting after 7 in the evening as her reason for leaving in a hurry.  The artworks in the exhibition were speaking many truths on many levels.  The South African Constitution is hailed the world over as the most progressive and forward looking document.  The work by Zanele Muholi and Nandipa  Mntambo amongst others addressed the clause contained in our liberal constitution's many rights and choices.  The Minister as an elected member of cabinet, by extension, a custodian of such freedoms as:  "Freedom of expression" that the young artists were exercising by creating the artworks walked away from the exhibition.  The Minister walked away less knowledgeable about the artworks and their meanings but choosing to 'censor' the artistic expressions based on her own personal principles and beliefs.
'The Spear' a painting by Brett Murray exhibited at the Goodman Gallery got the whole country talking.  Johannesburg came to a standstill as both the ANC and SACP took to the streets in protest against an artistic expression.  This display of intolerance goes against the rights enshrined in the country's constitution.
Both these  instances happened on our social landscapes and art had spoken to truth, art had spoken the truth.

Bren Brophy: curator

Developed by Brophy, over a decade (2000-2010), the Artists Action Around AIDS and Highly Effective ART (AAAA and HEART) programme was an initiative of the Centre for HIV and AIDS Networking (HIVAN), based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Its aim was to raise public awareness on issues related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic using the visual arts as a tool for communication and advocacy. The project aimed to contribute to the empowerment of communities affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. To this end, AAAA and HEART developed exhibitions, catalogues, presentations, publications, forums, and developmental workshops, and forged links with cultural organisations that advocate for change.

 Specific AAAA /HEART goals were:
To provide a platform for self-advocacy and expression by recording, documenting, and archiving the human stories of living with HIV/AIDS.
To give artistic reflection, translation, and presentation to the challenges and complexities surrounding HIV/AIDS through the development and facilitation of experiential workshops for HIV positive youth and adults.
To educate through art via public exhibitions, presentations, participatory projects, and the production of resources and publications that identified cultural responses to HIV/AIDS.
This programme used art to voice cultural understandings around HIV/AIDS, enhance local conceptualisations of complex biomedical issues, and provide meaningful opportunities for engaged community participation by way of training workshops. Community artists were encouraged to depict the "physical face" of AIDS and to archive, document, explore, and express the human condition. The project conducted "train the trainer" workshops which sought to mobilise trained art workers in utilising their skills for the benefit of affected communities.

Bren Brophy - Bio sketch
Brenainn (Bren) Brophy is a Social Science graduate (University of Cape Town, Fine Art, Psychology and Philosophy). With 25 years professional experience in the arts and culture sector, Bren is currently an independent Arts and Culture Project Developer and Fine Arts Consultant. Formerly the Curator for the KZNSA Galleries in Durban. (1997-99), (2010-13). He was the Programme Manager for the Culture, Communication and Arts Programme (CCAP) within HIVAN, (The Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking at the University of KwaZulu-Natal), (2000-10). He was the Consultant Arts Curator for the XIII International AIDS Conference in Durban, 2000. He was the Gallery Curator for the Market Theatre Art and Photography Galleries, Market Theatre Foundation, Johannesburg. (1991-93). He curated the SHUTTLE’99 Cultural Exchange (SA/Nordic Council of Ministers) in 1999.  Brophy's present focus is the development of Arts and Culture methodologies and interventions that address the issues and challenges surrounding social development, particularly as concerns community advocacy. Brophy researches and develops arts based projects using media and arts based responses to public and social development issues and challenges. He develops exhibitions, public art, workshops and educational programmes that aim to facilitate skills transferral and nurture advocacy and social – cultural transformation. He lives in Durban with a cat, Leo, who is not fond of humans.

Doung Jahangeer: artist / architect

CityWalk: The Cartography of Poetry and Politics of the Urban
The CityWalk initiative began in Durban, South Africa in 2001 as an investigative journey and exploration into the lives and (pathways) of the urban poor; but has become a psycho-geographic celebration of, amongst other things, the power of the in-between as a ‘space of radical openness’ (hooks).  
The walk, which essentially invites alternative ways of seeing urban space/place has been performed around the globe in such diverse cities as London (UK), Copenhagen (Denmark), Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Malmo (Sweden), Paris (France), Berlin (Germany), Amsterdam (Holland), Johannesberg (SA), Cape Town(SA), Grahamstown (SA), Douala(Cameroun), Addis Ababa(Ethopia) and New York (USA) this month on the 20th March.
Critical Praxis for emerging Cultures!
Over a decade of walking the city has enable dala to unearth a methodology when approaching creative practice that embraces democratic processes and values that can act as a tool to facilitate social cohesion and authentic (spatial) transformation. This presentation will, in engaging with this initiative / performance, explore the concept of mimetic urbanism as inspired by the power and poetry of the pavement.

Nontobeko Ntombela: curator
Social Art and the Anti-Social Art Institutions

Public art institutions, be it art galleries or museums have always been understood to be spaces of public interaction, where the meaning and role of art is transmitted through temporary exhibitions. This has meant that the function of these institutions is understood as enablers of social engagement between art and the public. However, given that the role and definition of art is continuously expanding, this compels us to think critically about how these public institutions are responding to the changing dynamics of art making and its reception, focusing particularly on South African public art institutions. Such a question stems from the observation that the role of the artist now traverses beyond the scope of art-production, which can be viewed in the growing number of artist(s) led initiatives, where artists are taking charge in redefining the role of art institutions. As such they have prompted newer terms that discursively positions the artist as a curator, historian, educator and at times even an anthropologist, positions that are usually assigned to those operating within public museums. This also implies that artists, through these initiatives also consider audience interaction through their work, and in turn considers its role as socially engaged art.  This compels us to reconsider the role of the public art institutions in what is demonstratively an institutional shift and how these shifts locate the so-called social art as operating outside of the public art institution.  Following from the above mentioned question, further questions can be asked: With so many of these artist(s) run initiatives actively working outside the establishment, where then do we place the role of the institutions? What happens to these works when they are inserted back into the museum space, considering that museums have visibly become an anti-social spaces due to their declining visitor numbers? And what has made museums unfavourable in the discourse of socially engaged art or rather social art? Can public art institutions withstand or carve a different identity to that of these artist(s) run spaces, without competing with these initiatives and for the same audiences, or visa versa? This presentation will not be about giving answers to these questions, but rather opening a platform for the consideration of different views in discussing the position of art today.

Biography of Nontobeko Ntombela

Nontobeko Ntombela is a curator based in Johannesburg. She holds a Master of Arts in Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, where she also works as an associate lecturer in the History of Art and Arts, Culture and Heritage Management departments. Previously, Ntombela worked as a curator of contemporary art at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (2010-2012), Durban University of Technology Art Gallery (2006-2010) and Bat Centre Art Galleries, Durban (2002-2006). Over the past 12 years, Ntombela has curated a number of exhibitions, mostly at the institutions where she worked and a few independently. Some of her most recent curatorial projects include: Spectaculaire (2013) at Frac des Pays de la Loire, France; The Two Talking Yonis (2013) at Constitution Hill (Women’s Jail), Room and Kalashnikovv gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa; A Fragile Archive (2012) at the Johannesburg Art Gallery; and Made in Africa (2012), co-curated with Andile Magengelele at Sandton Art Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2010 she received a fellowship grant towards her studies from the Ford Foundation and was the guest curator of the MTN New Contemporaries exhibition. Ntombela has also participated in a few international curatorial programmes, such as the Residency XXVII Ateliers Internationaux du Frac des Pays de la Loire (2013), Carquefou, France; Curatorial Intensive (2013), hosted by Independent Curators International in partnership with the Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa; Bilateral Exchange Project Germany and South Africa (2007) at Bochum Museum, Germany; and curators’ workshop Close Connections (Africa Reflected), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Amsterdam (2009). Ntombela also serves on two cultural committees – the Visual Art Task Team for the South African Department of Arts and Culture (2013-) and the Visual Art Panel Committee, National Arts Council of South Africa (2012-). Her research interests involve examining visual politics within the curatorial and exhibition practices in contemporary African art, an area in which she has produced and presented numerous research papers.

Russell Hlongwane: cultural and creative industries consultant

The Interphase
Creativity, Innovation, Aesthetic, Design, Development, Social Cohesion, Education, The New Commerce – and then comes…….. THE ARTIST/ THE CREATIVE.
All these mentioned items seem to be the ''by-product'' of a piece of art. The artist creates a body of works, and that is his primary occupation. And through his primary occupation (of creating a piece of art) he somehow achieves these mentioned ''by-products''.

However, in modern day, ''we'' seem to have placed the ''by-products'' before the ''producer'' (artist). And this ''we'' ______is namely; private sector (1), government (2) and consumerism (3). And these mentioned expectations are driven by private sector and government. In conclusion, art exists for the sake of art and artistic freedom comes with a huge responsibility. So how do we create an equal handed interdependence partnership between private-public and government?



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