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UJ’s UNFESTIVAL Programme announced

University of Johannesburg Arts Culture Unfestival UJ

Mona Lisa’s SMILE

Mona Lisa’s SMILE is not really an exhibition, but veteran UJ Art Gallery curator Annali Dempsey thought it was interesting that Da Vinci anticipated the technology that would be used in future pandemics. ‘For instance, he depicted a Mona Lisa wearing a gas mask, another with a latter-day medical mask, and her hoarding objects similar to today’s toilet paper. Some of the Mona Lisa’s unkempt hairstyles and rounded features allude to hardships suffered by women during periods of the plague,’ Dempsey explains. ‘It is known that Da Vinci survived the bubonic plague in the late 15th century while living in Milan, Italy. Up until early 2020, what has been unknown is the effect these pandemics had on Da Vinci’s portraiture,’ she adds. Dempsey, however, remains cryptic with regards to the form this work will take on the UNFESTIVAL programme, merely insinuating that ‘All will be revealed with Mona Lisa’s SMILE.’

Buy tickets

UNFESTIVAL SA runs from 26 May to 14 June 2020, and is a symbolic concept in aid of the UJ FADA Dean’s Bursary Fund and Business and Arts South Africa’s artist relief efforts. Visit or for full programme details. Bookings open on Thursday 21 May 2020. Show your support by buying a ticket – but please don’t come.

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