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MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award announces first curator

On 16 March 2022, UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with the MTN SA Foundation launched the MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award Programme and announced Khanya Mashabela as this year’s curator.

Khanya Mashabela curator

Mashabela was successfully selected as the 2022 curator by the Legacy Panel and initiated her research process in February. The programme requires her to conduct comprehensive desk research of emerging South African visual art practitioners working in a contemporary genre. During the research phase, Mashabela will be travelling to studios, galleries, and museums in as many of the provinces as possible; study relevant contemporary literature; and consult extensively with other specialists in the field of contemporary South African art, to enable the nomination of four candidates who will participate in the next phase of the Awards programme.

‘Khanya is an amazing curator, very bold. This year we really put the emphasis on a young, black female curator because it is so important to work towards gender equality. It is not very often that female curators have the opportunity to go into such spaces. As much as we would like to believe that everyone is offered equal opportunity in the arts space, female curators are often side-lined.’

Thabo Seshoka, curator of the UJ Art Gallery

The Legacy Panel consists of four previous MTN New Contemporaries curators namely: Dr Kathryn Smith, Dr Portia Malatjie, Nontobeko Ntombela and Khwezi Gule with Melissa Goba, as the panel convener. The Legacy Panel was not only responsible for identifying and proposing the curator in November 2021; but will also assist with the subsequent phase of the programme in 2022 by verifying the curator’s research and proposal of the selected artists and acting as adjudicators when selecting the winning artist for the Gala event in October.

Mashabela will focus her work during the year on emerging artists working or moving into the digital or virtual format. This is in line with both the MTN Foundation’s mandate and UJ Arts & Culture’s strategy to advance the discourse around the relationship between the arts and technology. Furthermore, the MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award Programme will have a dedicated space on UJ Art Gallery’s website, Moving Cube, allowing for increased exposure for the curator and participating artists.

Khanya Mashabela curator
PHOTO by Mia Louw

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