Gabi Ngcobo appointed Curatorial Director of Javett-UP

Posted on June 11, 2021

“The Javett-UP is committed to bringing critical artistic engagement from the bottom up. I’m excited to be part of this reimagining,” says Gabi Ngcobo of her recent appointment.

Gabi Ngcobo has been appointed Curatorial Director of the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP). Ngcobo, who was recently included in ARTnews’s list 25 Curators Shaping the Art World Today, brings years of experience to the position, having worked as an artist, curator and educator. She is recognised for her multi-layered, decolonial approach to curation, and her collaborative experiments in reconfiguring and transforming normative understandings of historical positions.

Between 2011 and 2020, she was a lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at the Wits School of Arts, and since the early 2000s, has been engaged in collaborative artistic, curatorial and educational projects in South Africa and internationally. Recent curatorial projects include Mating Birds at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban (2019) and the 10th Berlin Biennale titled We Don’t Need Another Hero (2018). She was a co-curator of the 32nd Sao Paulo Art Biennial (2016) and also co-curated A Labour of Love at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, which later travelled to the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

“It is both challenging and timely to be curatorially directing the Javett-UP from this particular point in historical time,” said Ngcobo about her new position. “The COVID-19 pandemic has both challenged and given art institutions opportunities for rethinking their socio-political stances and to revisit founding missions, collection strategies and curatorial focuses. The Javett-UP is a newly found art centre that is committed to bringing critical artistic engagement from the bottom up. I’m excited to be part of this reimagining and to be surrounded by a great team of equally passionate people.”

More recently, Ngcobo curated All in a Day’s Eye: The Politics of Innocence in the Javett Art Collection (2019), a curatorial project that formed part of the inaugural exhibitions at the Javett-UP. In November 2020, she stepped in as the Javett-UP’s Interim Curatorial Director, helping to shape the curatorial department as well as curate, with her team, Handle with Care, an exhibition of selected works from the SOUTH32 collection, which is on a 10-year loan to the Javett-UP.

Ngcobo is a founding member of Johannesburg-based collaborative platforms NGO – Nothing Gets Organised (2016-) – and the Center for Historical Reenactments (2010 – 2014). 

Her writing has been published widely, including in the reader Uneven Bodies, which is affiliated with New Zealand’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2021); The Stronger We Become, a catalogue of the South African Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2019); Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, YBCA/SFMOMA (2014); We Are Many: Art, the Political and Multiple Truths, Verbier Art Summit (2019); and Texte Zur Kunst (September 2017).

“I have followed Gabi Ngcobo’s inspiring and critical work for over 20 years, on both local and global arts spaces and platforms,” said Lekgetho Makola, CEO of the Javett-UP. “She has contributed to the radical shifts in contemporary art discourses and intellectualisms in our time. We are looking forward to exciting programmes mediated together with Gabi towards reimagining our collective futures through art, research and curatorial practice.”

Ngcobo and team’s current curatorial iteration, the Handle with Care exhibition, is open to the public until early next year at the Javett-UP.

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