VIAD Research Associate, Yvette Greslé will be launching her book titled Unearthed, on the 24th of October 2019. The event will take place Upstairs at the Island Queen in London. The book explores ‘memory as force’ with contributions from Shiraz Bayjoo, Jane Bustin, Cecile Malaspina, Denise Wong and Aurella Yussuf.

‘I grew up with the ordinariness of the colonial order of things and the banality of apartheid in the spaces where other whites, like me, lived …’ Unearthed demonstrates, through a weave of time and place – be it then or now, the Seychelles, Johannesburg or London – how the ‘ordinariness’ of prejudice and violence persists. Raising memory from burden to force, this book pulls you in and takes you to an understanding of why it is important to speak.

Yvette Greslé manages what many cannot – she reclaims memory without falling prey to sentimentality. Achingly spare, Unearthed is a haunting catalogue of remembrance, an unflinching and melancholic examination of racism and privilege.
— Sisonke Msimang

Yvette Greslé is a writer and art historian based in London. Her endeavours relate to the transformative and political possibilities of the moving image and writing as memory work. She is a Research Associate at VIAD, with the University of Johannesburg.

Click here for details on the launch.


Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

Special issue editors:

Dr. Alexandra Kokoli, Middlesex University,

Dr. Maria Walsh, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL,

A long-contested cultural space, the museum is beginning to be recognised as a battleground not only of competing understandings of its remit and value, but also, more literally, as material documentation of real violence. Artefacts obtained through imperialist invasion and looting are interpellated through the museum into material evidence of the supremacy and worthiness of the colonisers, thus perpetuating the legacies of empire and consolidating them into current global inequalities. Museums help convert real violence into symbolic tensions and divisions within the communities they purport to serve. 

The modern museum’s ‘hidden’ origin in violence, both in its histories of looting and in its use of objects to tell and/or preserve stories about nationhood, also relates to current debates in the contemporary art museum. This special issue of Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, focuses on the unconscious roots and ramifications of museological origins, histories and practices, addressed through any school of psychoanalytic thought, from both clinical and academic perspectives. Whose stories are visible in these spaces and how do they serve their audiences? Art museums naturalise the socio-cultural biases of the canon by inculcating standards of taste, aesthetics, and value in their audiences, and mapping implicit hierarchies within their displays or, more poignantly, between what is on display and what remains in storage. The critical discourse of contestation, which exposes and unpacks the mutual implication of collections, institutions, and displays with patriarchy, colonialism and racial capitalism, has gradually morphed into lively negotiation in which curators, artists, and stakeholders explore and campaign for new ways of understanding the histories and publics assembled herein.

As part of this new understanding, the therapeutic potential of engaging with museum collections and exhibitions is also being explored from psychodynamic, object-relations, and other perspectives (e.g. Froggett and Trustram, 2014). The emphasis here is often on reparation, which raises questions about the interrelationship between the political and the therapeutic, especially in relation to communities of trauma (Brown, 2004) for whom reparation can be a further act of violence. Can the museum house the narratives of pain and displacement held by objects in ways that acknowledge the rupture of trauma, but also present more entangled symbolic relations between cultures and publics? Artist Kader Attia’s concept of repair in his vast installation The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures (2012) is a practical model of how exchange between and across cultures might be rethought in terms of the psychosocial dynamics of identification and desire.  

Contemporary curatorial thinking and practice confronts some of the most complex questions of museology and heritage studies in which practical considerations of conservation interweave with philosophical and political reflections on transience, memory, and commemoration. How might psychoanalytic thinking enable both a regenerative approach to such questions and a critical lens through which to examine the inherent ‘goodness’ thought to reside in object relations? Last but not least, psychoanalysis offers a toolkit through which to examine the strength of feeling, i.e. the passionate attachments, that curatorial decisions, acquisitions, de-acquisitions, and reclassifications inspire in their publics, particularly in the case of national and civic collections. 

This special issue aims to combine academic article-length contributions (6,000-8,000 words) with shorter interventions (1,500-3,000) by academic writers, artists, activists, and curators on current and pressing case studies or issues, including but not limited to:

Situated at the intersection between psychoanalysis and the social world, submissions are expected to fulfil the mission statement of the journal in mobilising the psychoanalytic toolkit to bring about positive social change, through analysis and/or proposals of models for future practice (

Please submit an ABSTRACT of 300-500 words and a BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE of up to 100 words to the special issue editors by 9 December 2019.  Authors will be notified of the outcome of their proposal in January 2020. First full drafts will be due in June 2020.


VIAD would like to congratulate Saidiya Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, at Columbia University, on this prestigious recognition. The MacArthur fellowship, is given out annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

Saidiya Hartman is a scholar of African American literature and cultural history whose works explore the afterlife of slavery in modern American society and bear witness to lives, traumas, and fleeting moments of beauty that historical archives have omitted or obscured. She weaves findings from her meticulous historical research into narratives that retrieve from oblivion stories of nameless and sparsely documented historical actors, such as female captives on slave ships and the inhabitants of slums at the turn of the twentieth century.
— MacArthur Foundation

Hartman was one of the participants at our Imagined New colloquium held in May and will also be collaborating with us on The Sojourner Project to be held next year. It has been a pleasure working with you!

For more information on the award please see the announcement of the award here, and the complete list of the other MacArthur Foundation fellowship and grant awardees.


Leora Farber, Director at VIAD is currently on residence at the University of Western Australia, at their SymbioticA artistic laboratory. On Thursday the 19th of September 2019, she will be presenting a talk on her artistic practice and latest body of work , Intimate presences/affective absences (or, the snake within).

In this talk, I provide an overview of my artistic practice, focusing on underpinning themes of the body; skin; embodiment, abjection, medical bio-technology, and cultural displacement within feminist, postcolonial and decolonial paradigms. I trace how these thematics come together in an ongoing bio-art project, involving use of cellulose fibre to create casts of domestic objects that carry associations with colonial legacies, and a series of bacterial drawings related to the patterns reproduced on these objects. Hauntingly spectral, in states of ‘in betweenness’, the casts and drawings blur conventional boundaries between visibility and invisibility; past and present; materiality and immateriality; living and non-living; presence and absence; actuality and imagination; being and non-being; growth and decay.
— Leora Farber

For more information, visit the Symbiotica website here.


VIAD would like to affirm its full support of UJ’s official stand against xenophobic violence, released in response to recent attacks and looting in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the country. These violent eruptions have seen at least twelve people killed, and speak to a climate in which foreign nationals from across the Continent do not feel welcome or safe in South Africa. As stated in our recent support of the University’s pronouncement against gendered violence and rape culture, VIAD is committed to working against the forms of violence that in South Africa (and elsewhere) sustains a normality of threat to all whose lives are rendered precarious on account of their race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language or ‘legal status’
— The VIAD Team

The University of Johannesburg joins the national call to stop all acts of violence, intolerance and xenophobia.  The assaults on people and the looting of property simply because they were not born in South Africa can never be justified.

The violence, coming on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, is a serious blight for a country like ours, which is founded on the values of Ubuntu.

In South Africa, where foreigners are easy targets, we need to exercise caution and act with restraint, even in the midst of the social and economic problems we face. We should desist from peddling inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech that foment violence, because violence never solves any problems. As the saying goes, violence begets violence.

We support the view of the President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, who said: "The people of our country want to live in harmony. Whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way. There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries."

At UJ, we recognise the intellectual and cultural contribution that students and scholars from Africa and other parts of the world make to our University and society at large, and we remain steadfast in providing a safe and welcoming environment for all its staff and students. 

As aptly captured in our University's values, we must practice mutual respect and inspire our community to transform and serve humanity.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal


VIAD would like to echo the sentiments expressed in UJ’s official statement against GBV. As a Centre, we hope in all of our programming, research and interactions to work collaboratively against the engrained patriarchal violence that, in South Africa and elsewhere, sustains a normality of threat to the lives of women, children, LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities, as well as all whose lives are rendered precarious on account of their ethnicity, language or ‘legal status’
— Leora Farber (VIAD Director)

The University of Johannesburg is gravely concerned at the recent spate of Gender-Based Violence (GBV),especially the ever increasing incidences of attacks on women and children in public and private spheres.

The recent incidents, the latest being the deadly attack on the University of Cape Town student – 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana is chilling, and every parent’s worst nightmare. It is unacceptable, and indeed abhorrent that women must fear the act of simply walking in the streets. It is also unacceptable that women and girls, often the vulnerable members of our society, must continue to experience rape, sexual harassment, assault and murder in the hands of even those they trust. 

UJ, therefore, condemns in the strongest possible terms these continuous attacks on women and girls that are taking place across the country. Violence against women and girls robs them of their futures, harms families, communities, societies and institutions across generations.

It is also concerning that while the government has taken measures to develop laws, policies and programmes to respond to GBV, it remains one of the most prevalent human-rights violations in the country. We believe that effective prosecution of perpetrators is an important deterrent that must be reinforced. 

The rights of women and children in particular, are fundamental rights that our society needs to take responsibility for and protect. GBV creates a climate of fear by victimising instead of empowering women and girls. We have to continue to educate our people and prosecute those that do not learn to respect the dignity and rights of others.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor and Principal


Alberta Whittle’s show at the Dundee Contemporary Arts (Scotland) explores history, colonisation and it’s aftermaths. The show titled How flexible can we make the mouth runs from the 12th of September till the 24th of November 2019. The exhibition draws together her recent works on performance and memory and postcolonial legacies.  

How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth refers to Whittle’s current preoccupation with healing, writing, breath and orality. Writing has always been an integral part of her practice and the texts she produces are meant to be read aloud, to be heard as well as seen. She also works rhythmically in relation to writing and reading, particularly looking at punctuation marks as visual signifiers of shifts in breath and breathing. Looking at the relationship between historical written testimonies and ancestral knowledge shared through oral traditions, the artist will be using video and performance to create direct encounters with audiences, encouraging mutual empathy, learning, and understanding.
— Dundee Contemporary Arts

This marks the Bajan-Scottish artist’s first major solo in a UK institution. The show’s curator, Eoin Dara,  has this to say of the fact:

In my opinion, she is one of the most important artists working in Scotland right now, she’s been working steadily in Scotland for decades, she’s spent a long time building up a practice between here and the Caribbean. She exhibits in major shows internationally, she’s made huge strides.
— Eoin Dara, Curator, as quoted in The Herald

For more information, see the Dundee Contemporary Arts website here.


Some Are Born To Endless Night — Dark Matter (13 September 2019 - 25 January 2020) is the first major institutional solo exhibition in the UK of the British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor. Curated by [ VIAD RA ] Renée Mussai (Senior Curator & Head of Curatorial, Archive & Research at Autograph), the site-specific immerse exhibition features more than 60 works, which will be shown at Autograph's galleries in Shoreditch, London. Many of the works will be on display for the first time, and include a new Artist Commission.

Merging abstraction and figuration with a performative engagement of the self, Viktor’s multifaceted, evocative practice is rooted in the concept of unruly visual pleasure as a politics for refusal – deeply invested in generative concepts of black futurity, subversive rupture and bold imaginary. Beauty, in Viktor’s world, is forged from and within a restorative praxis of disavowal, as a radical method of transfiguration
— Renée Mussai, Curator

For the exhibition, Autograph has commissioned four new unique works on paper by the artist which will form part of her ongoing Dark Continent series.

These new works will enter the Autograph Archive, which form part of their unique collection of photographic material which reflects Autograph's mission: “to use photography to explore questions of cultural identity, race, representation, human rights and social justice”.

An artist monograph publication is also forthcoming, October 2019. Edited by the curator Renée Mussai, with texts by Emmanuel Iduma, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Christina Sharpe, and an in-depth conversation between Lina Iris Viktor and Renée Mussai. The monograph is published by Autograph with supportof Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Chicago.


VIAD RA Prof M. Neelika Jayawardane in her op-ed piece in the Journal of African Studies, writes on the value of capacity-building-workshops hosted by European collaborators under the guise of imparting knowledge and questions whether those workshops are beneficial or merely entrench ‘colonial extractive relationships’.

Click here to read the article

…this workshop experience awakened me to the fact that such projects do little in terms of actually sharing beneficial stills, having any long term impact, or finding practical solutions for the specific problems faced by ‘participants’ from Africa. Yet an endless stream of ‘capacity-building’ workshops, initiated by individuals from a broad range of European institutions with organisations and institutions (with far fewer resources and access), proliferate on the African continent. Each claims to create equitable, beneficial ‘collaborative partnerships’. These ‘workshops’ seem to be concentrated in certain hotspot target- regions: Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana are among the most prolific recipients of workshop torture.
— M. Neelika Jayawardane (2019), Journal of African Cultural Studies


Congratulations to VIAD RA Jennifer Bajorek who was recently announced a recipient of the prestigious Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award, for her 2019 publication Unfixed: Photography and Decolonial Imagination in West Africa (Duke University Press).

The Millard Meiss Publication Fund is made possible by a generous bequest of the late Professor Millard Meiss. Two times each year, CAA awards grants to publishers in art history and visual culture to support presses in the publication of projects of the highest scholarly and intellectual merit that may not generate adequate financial return.
— CCA Commons

Click here for more information on the Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award. View Jennifer Bajorek’s bio


Artist and VIAD Research Associate Alberta Whittle has an upcoming solo exhibition entitled Business As Usual at the Tyburn Gallery in London. A multi-faceted artist whose practice includes film, performance, and various forms of collage and assemblage, Whittle is known for work which uses the body as a site of potential for transformation and resistance. Creating space to acknowledge the effects of history on the present, she envisions new models for the future, drawing on science fiction, decolonial knowledge, and the power of vulnerability.

The exhibition will run from 31 May – 27 July 2019.

For this exhibition, the artist has conceived a series of large-scale digital collages which bring together elements of photography and painting, using performative self-portraiture to depict re-imagined histories and radical futures. She uses collage to reveal the mutability of narratives and encourage multiple ways of knowing. Accommodating various perspectives, images and texts, this practice allows her to disturb the constructed notion of a singular, objective history, and shed light on a wealth of stories and experiences which have been overlooked. These images show manifold alternative possibilities, overflowing in rich kaleidoscopic symmetry.
— From the Tyburn Gallery

For more information on the exhibition, please see the Tyburn Gallery website here.


The VIAD team would like to extend their congratulations to Research Associate Renée Mussai for her work on Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness!

A collaboration with Renée Mussai (Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial, Archive & Research at Autograph), Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018) was recently announced by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation as the winner of the Best Photography Book Award 2019. The book comprises 100 photographs from Zanele Muholi’s internationally renowned travelling exhibition, also curated by Mussai, currently on view at the Seattle Art Museum, USA. It features an in-depth In Conversation text-work between Muholi and Mussai, as well ascontributions from Unoma Azuah, Milisuthando Bongela, Ama Josephine Budge, Cheryl Clarke, Fariba Derakhshani, Andiswa Dlamini, Christine Eyene, Tamar Garb, Thelma Golden, Sophie Hackett, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Peace Kiguwa, Mapula Lehong, Sindiwe Magona, Napo “Popo” Masheane, Hlonipha Mokoena, Jackie Mondi, Renée Mussai, Pumelela “Push” Nqelenga, Oluremi C. Onabanjo, Ruti Talmor, Christie van Zyl, Carla Williams, and Deborah Willis. 

Zanele Muholi has been awarded the Best Photography Book Award 2019 for their striking monograph Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness produced by Aperture. After entering the world stage in the early 2000’s, Zanele has come to the forefront of public attention, particularly in the past weeks with work on display in Ralph Rugoff’s main show at the 58th Venice Biennale, and an announcement this week that they will be exhibiting at Tate Modern in 2020. Zanele’s Kraszna-Krausz Foundation awarded publication presents a series of bold self-portraits that are timely and relevant statements on race, gender and identity.
— From the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation website

For more information on the book and the award, please see the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation website here.


VIAD is proud to announce that Research Associate Prof Cheryl Finely has been appointed as Distinguished Inaugural Visiting Director of the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies. She will be leading a new program at the AUC aimed at building a pipeline for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to impact the museum professions and the art world by majoring in art history or minoring in curatorial studies at the undergraduate level and being prepared through internships and art intensive programs to attend graduate school (MA/PhD programs in Art History, Curatorial Studies and Museum Studies) or obtain jobs in museums, galleries and the larger art world professions.

For more information on the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies, please see this link.


Associate Professor Jennifer Bajorek presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, as a featured speaker at ‘photographic representations and colonial discourses’ on 10 April 2019. The event formed part of MoMA’s forums on contemporary photography, which was founded in 2010.

The upcoming session will examine links between photographic legacy, vernacular histories, and colonial discourses. It could be argued that, since its advent in 1839, the photographic gaze has been inflected with colonial ideologies. At the same time, the preservation of photographs and their negatives is integral to scholarly and artistic approaches to interpreting the narratives of a society. Gaps or neglect in the archive also pose a challenge to reconstituting underrepresented or erased histories. Contesting the distorting lens of colonizing perspectives, the practices of several contemporary artists and scholars have sought new ways to interpret historic events and reclaim cultural heritages.
— From the Museum of Modern Art

Read an article about the Forums from Art in America.

To watch the recording of ‘Photographic Representations and Colonial Discourses’ please visit the MoMA website here.


VIAD is proud to announce the release of ‘Vivan Sundaram Is Not A Photographer: The Photographic Works Of Vivan Sundaram’, a new book by research associate Dr Ruth Rosengarten, published by Tulika Books, Dehli.

Belonging to a generation of figurative artists that emerged from the Baroda School in the early 1960s, Vivan Sundaram has consistently and passionately engaged with the historical and political particularities of his own position as a subject in India and in the world at large. Ruth Rosengarten explores how, from the 1990s, Sundaram’s practice has become paradigmatic of a mode of work that might be defined at one level as curatorial—where the location of production and that of public display converge. He began using photography as a more active agent in his work in the 1990s; a change that coincided with his abandonment of painting as a practice and his engagement with installation. Rosengarten highlights the fact that incorporation of photography into his installations is only one aspect of Sundaram’s simultaneous recruitment of multiple sources, materials, and technologies. Moreover, the idea of photographs as archival documents sits alongside his engagement with other forms of archival material through which he (re)assembles and orders the past.

The London launch of the book will be hosted by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies on 29 May 2019. If you are able to attend the launch, more information can be found here.


Dr Alexandra Kokoli, senior lecturer in visual culture at Middlesex University London and research associate at VIAD, has been awarded a mid-career fellowship by the Paul Mellon Centre. The award consists of a 4-month remission from teaching and administration to be used towards the completion of her book project The Virtual Feminist Museum of Greenham Common, the first-ever monograph dedicated to the art and visual activism of the Greenham common women’s peace camp (1981-2000).

Long celebrated for the performative activist strategies of women protestors against nuclear proliferation and their craft-based DIY interventions on the periphery fence the USRAF airbase, the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and its Berkshire site are beginning to be recognised as English (and Welsh) heritage with a transnational reach. Kokoli aims to consolidate, elaborate, and further promote this recognition, while also troubling the notion of ‘heritage’ with the tool kit of feminist art history. Viewed through the lens of feminist intergenerational transmission, Greenham Common exemplifies Griselda Pollock’s formulation of the virtual feminist museum: mobilising Aby Warburg’s Nachleben (afterlife/survival by metamorphosis), the virtual feminist museum untethers artefacts, images, and practices from their historical contexts and sets them in motion, tracing their travels, reoccurrences and transformations across time and space. Kokoli argues that the virtual museum of Greenham Common is fuelled by the transdisciplinary intersection of scholarship and the continuing fight for change, be it against war, the arms trade, nuclear power, global inequalities, or austerity.

For more information on the award please see the announcement of the award here, and the complete list of the other Paul Mellon fellowship and grant awardees.


It is with great sadness that VIAD announces the passing of Couze Venn, whose ten-year association with the centre profoundly influenced its research culture and direction. After a long and courageous struggle, Couze was admitted to the Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay (UK), where he died on 13 March 2019.

On a personal level, I would like to express my deep appreciation for the mentoring role Couze played in my artistic and academic journey, and to acknowledge the fine thinker and humble, generous person that he was. Thank you Couze, your contributions will challenge and influence generations to come
— Leora Farber, VIAD Director
Couze Venn was an outstanding academic who published on a number of fields. One who had the temerity to think outside the frame, as After Capital, the title of his last book suggests. At the same time, he was also a person of great understanding and humility who always had time to positively encourage others. He was a wonderful friend, colleague and mentor to many. The spirit of his encounters and words will live on
— Mike Featherstone

Just a few weeks ago, and despite serious health struggles, Couze Venn published an opinion piece in Open Democracy. From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet, he demonstrated (and historically located) neoliberalism’s normalised economy of hostility as a zero sum game of winners and losers, whose only beneficiaries are the far right.

Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and ‘losers’.
— Couze Venn from Open Democracy

Click here to read the full tribute in Theory, Culture & Society article and here to read his Open Democracy piece


Brown University recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Centre for The Study of Slavery & Justice (CSSJ). The centre was founded in 2012 by VIAD Visiting Professor Anthony Bogues (bio), following a commission initiated in 2003 by brown’s then president, Ruth J. Simmons, which tasked a steering committee to examine the university’s historical entanglement with slavery and the slave trade. In addition to the work it does within Brown, the CSSJ supports a range of research and curatorial projects focused on histories of racial slavery, its legacies, and its ramifications for the present. VIAD and the CSSJ will collaborate this year on an exhibition and public programme curated by Bogues and featuring renowned Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié.

The CSSJ is a centre in the world … It does not just reside in the academic space. Sometimes the academy tends to be isolated from the world, but we are engaged with it. We have no other option, because the issues and questions we work on demand rigorous scholarship and are critical to the world we live in today.
— Anthony Bogues, VIAD VP & CSSJ Founding Director
We are very proud of our work with CSSJ … We see it as essential to forge new relationships amongst museums and research institutions, as well as between public institutions and their audiences in order to make museums and universities into sites more relevant to addressing questions of repair, reckoning, reconciliation and justice.
— Paul Gardullo, Director of the Center for the Study of Global Slavery

Click here for Gillian Kiley’s article on the CSSJ


With the support of 386 Kickstarter backers, Shravan Vidyarthi and VIAD RA Erin Haney are thrilled to announce the publication of ‘Priya Ramrakha - A Photo Book from a Forgotten Archive’. The books were printed in Heidelberg, Germany, in late October and bound shortly after that. The first copies travelled to Paris photo in November, and the book is now available via Amazon (link).

From a long-hidden archive, rediscovered photos from one of Africa’s most storied and influential photojournalists

In October 2017 VIAD hosted the first comprehensive survey Ramrakha’s work. View exhibition details here.


VIAD is thrilled at the appointment of Amohelang Mohajane as the new curator of the NWU Gallery, North West University, Potchefstroom. As VIAD’S 2018 curatorial intern, Amohelang was an integral part of the centre’s programming. We wish her all the best in this new and well-deserved position, and look forward to future collaborations!

The NWU Gallery (North West University) was established in 2002. This designated space, sharing a building with the main university library and NWU Archive in Potchefstroom, boasts climate controlled storage facilities and a large exhibition space for temporary exhibitions. It has seen over a hundred exhibitions since its launch, from esteemed local and international artists alike. It also houses the NWU Art Collection artworks not currently on loan.


VIAD RA Prof John Edwin Mason recently took to twitter, criticising the perpetuation of the white gaze in the Taylor Wessing photographic portrait competition (its most recent winner was the much-criticised South African ex-pat photographer Alice Mann). Although promoting itself as a leading international competition - “which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world” - the demographic of past winners speaks to a problematic ethnographic legacy in which white artists benefit from the aesthetic commodification of black and brown bodies. Hyperallergic picked up on the story and interviewed Prof Mason:

So, let me get this straight … All four prize winners in this year’s Taylor Wessing competition are portraits of black or brown people made by white photographers. That’s f_cked up ... I’m by no means saying that white photographers can’t make portraits that challenge the white supremacist gaze. Some have and some do,” he said. “But photographers of color, by and large, are more likely to make images that subvert the white gaze. They do it by creating images that are rooted in the particular historical experiences of black and brown peoples. They create, that is, new ways of seeing and of knowing.
— John Mason

Click here for Jasmine Weber’s Hyperallergic’s article, Discerning Photography’s White Gaze - The three top winners of the prestigious Taylor Wessing Prize depict people of color, photographed by white photographers.


Cornell University Art Historian & VIAD RA Prof Cheryl Finley's new publication - Committed To Memory. The Art of The Slave Ship Icon - will be launched at New York University on Thursday the 13th sept. Presenting this remarkable contribution, Prof Finley will be in conversation Jennifer L. Morgan, chair, Department of Social And Cultural Analysis-NYU. 

For me, what’s key is the icon’s longevity and its enduring presence in the minds of black artists and their allies, who’ve used the image to show offenses against human rights and violence against black people and black bodies...

Click here for details on the launch

Click here for the recent Cornell Chronicle feature


VIAD RA Prof M. Neelika Jayawardane writes on the responsibility of art institutions in relation to gender-based violence perpetrated by 'star' artists - citing the current controversy around South African artist Mohau Modisakeng.

Click here to read her Al Jazeera feature

How we, as professionals in the art world, decide to react towards the violent people working in our field will have a significant impact. Individuals in influential positions and persons on boards are the guides of institutional policies - they reflect prevailing “norms” and belief systems of dominant cultural groups. And conversely, institutions shape our values and what we accept as “norms

View Prof. Neelika Jayawardane's bio


VIAD is thrilled to announce a number of important new book publications authored and/or edited by research associates Cheryl Finley, Kimberly Lamm, Nathaniel Stern, Bryan Trabold and Couze Venn. 


/ Committed to Memory. The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton University Press - link)


/ Addressing the other woman. Textual correspondences in feminist art and writing (Manchester University Press - link)


/ Ecological Aesthetics - artful tactics for humans, nature, and politics (Dartmouth College Press - link)


/ Rhetorics of Resistance. Opposition Journalism in Apartheid South Africa (University of Pittsburgh Press - link)


/ After Capital (Sage Publishing - link)