27th March 2024

S04 E05: ‘The Museum’ with Storm Janse van Rensburg and Kutlwano Mokgojwa

Art conversations in South Africa

In this episode, Kutlwano Mokgojwa provides a comprehensive overview of the transformative journey of the Wits Art Museum (WAM), tracing its historical roots to Professor Martienssen’s collection in 1979. The discussion highlights WAM’s evolution from the Wits School of Art galleries to its establishment in 2012, emphasising its role in conserving, exhibiting, and educating around contemporary South African art.

The episode explores challenges faced during a 10-year fundraising period, shedding light on WAM’s engagement with the academic community, the broader public, and its significance within South Africa’s arts ecosystem. Additionally, Kutlwano delves into WAM’s unique relationship with Wits University, showcasing the museum’s commitment to providing access to diverse audiences in Johannesburg. Storm contributes to the episode by reflecting on the dynamic art scene in Johannesburg during the mid-90s, sharing experiences from Market Theatre Galleries and highlighting the significance of institutions like Durban Art Gallery, KZNSA, and Oliewenhuis Art Museum. Storm emphasizes the crucial role of museums in defending creativity and imagination while underscoring their interconnected contributions to expanding possibilities through storytelling. Overall, the conversation offers nuanced insights into Wits Art Museum’s evolution, Zeitz MOCAA’s positioning, and their ongoing impacts on South Africa’s cultural landscape.

Biographies

Storm Janse van Rensburg (b.1972, South Africa ) is a curator of contemporary art who has worked in South African and international contexts for the past 25 years. He currently serves as Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial Affairs at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa. He started his career at the Market Theatre Galleries, Johannesburg (1995 – 1999) and served as curator of the Kwazulu Natal Society of the Arts in Durban (2000 – 2006). He was a founding member of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) and senior curator at Goodman Gallery Cape Town (2007 – 2012). He lived and worked in Berlin, Germany (2012 – 2015) as an independent curator and researcher. He was a fellow of the Academy for Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth, Germany (2013 – 2015).

He served as head curator of exhibitions at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Savannah, U.S.A. (2015 – 2019), where he oversaw a robust exhibitions program of international exhibitions and programming.  He has edited and written for a number of exhibition catalogues and contributed to African Arts Journal, Art South Africa, Metropolis M, Canvas and Contemporary And magazines amongst others, and was editor of the monographs Jacob Lawrence: Lines of Influence (2020) and Johannes Phokela: Only Sun in The Sky Knows How I Feel – (A Lucid Dream) (2023). He co-edited Home is Where the Art is (2022) and Radical Solidarity: A Reader (2023), both published by Zeitz MOCAA.

Kutlwano Mokgojwa is an art curator, writer and administrator. She is a recipient of the 2023 AAMC Foundation’s Propel Program. Her research interest is the contemporary curatorial practice of African cultural art/ifacts that move beyond singular narratives. Kutlwano has co-edited ‘Seen, Heard and Valued: WAM celebrates 40 years of the Standard Bank African Art Collection’ and has curated Threading through the collections, a textile exhibition opening 30 January 2024 at WAM. In Addition, Kutlwano has contributed to four museum publications and ten exhibitions in various roles.

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