Curatorial Care, Humanising Practices: Past Presences as Present Encounters

Wednesday 11 - Friday 13 April

FADA Gallery

Johannesburg, South Africa

Free, registration essential

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Autograph ABP and the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), University of Johannesburg, are hosting a three-day conference to coincide with the opening of Black Chronicles IV, an exhibition curated by Renée Mussai at the FADA Gallery.

Using the exhibition and photographic portraiture as a departure point, the conference will build upon a critical rethinking of curatorial practice, as traditionally bound to a colonial logic of collection, arrangement, ‘safe-keeping’ and display. Challenging the authorial custodianship associated with this tradition, and its historic (but lingering) application in the ethnographic/raciogenic arrangement of marginalised bodies, proposed in this reappraisal is an ethical recourse to curatorial care – where contemporary practices linked to traditional understandings of curating, as a ‘caring for objects’, are reconstituted in relation to (re)-acknowledged subjectivities.

In seeking to engage with such curatorial approaches – as practices through which, as Anthony Bogues suggests, “we may grasp how different acts of humanization occur’” [1] – the conference will comprise an interdisciplinary programme of papers, presentations, panel discussions, screenings and performances. Through an engagement with a multiplicity of critical approaches to collection, presentation and display, and the ways in which these practices impact upon audience engagement, participants will reflect on curation as a means to facilitate opportunities for intersubjective encounters, through the re-inscription of voices historically consigned to the objectifying violence and routine silencing of colonial modernity.

[1] Bogues, A. 2010. Empire of Liberty: Power, Desire, & Freedom. London: University Press of New England: 119.


Prof Anthony Bogues / Curator, Academic & Director of the Centre for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University

Prof Jay Pather / Curator, Choreographer & Director of the Institute for Creative Arts, University of Cape Town

Renée Mussai / Senior Curator and Head of Archive & Research, Autograph ABP, London

Prof Deborah Willis / Artist, Curator & Chair of the Dept. of Photography & Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Full programme to be announced