Research projects

Institutional Research Theme: Capital Cities

The Department of Visual Arts is participating in the UP’s Institutional Research Theme of ‘Capital Cities’. Two recent exhibitions, curated under the auspices of the Department of Visual arts, namely Metromusings (15 - 29 July 2013) and Hidden Urban Histories (27 Aug - 3 Sept 2013) were hosted as creative research endeavours.

presented a visual mapping of the social and political power geographies and complexes that dominate cities and how urban culture can be voiced, claimed, negotiated and contested. In paintings, drawings, sculptures, performance, photography, printmaking and video, a defining question in the context of the city is how space can be translated into place. The exhibition presented visual renderings and conceptions of urban culture and specifically of Pretoria as the capital city of South Africa.
The exhibition was curated by Prof Elfriede Dreyer, and presented artworks from members of staff and affiliated guest lecturers. Participating artists include Carla Crafford, Celia de Villiers, Diane Victor, Elfriede Dreyer, Frikkie Eksteen, Joao Ladeira, Kai Lossgott, Leana van der Merwe, Sikho Siyotula, Loraine Beaton, Magdel Fourie, Berco Wilsenach, Pieter Swanepoel and Sakie Seoka.

Hidden Urban Histories consisted of the work of under- and postgraduate students and was conceptualised from the research theme of ‘Cities lived: memory, identity and belonging’. The daily reality of living in a city means to be part of the accumulated effects of histories and events on particular spaces. A meta-theme of the exhibition was the interrelationship of project to process to product, thus the process of creating artworks became a metaphor for the generative character of the city as a space of erasure and creation. The exhibition was curated by Master candidates Sikho Siyotula and Leana van der Merwe.
An exhibition catalogue accompanied each exhibition.

Faculty research theme: Visual technologies, critical encounters

Under the auspices of the Faculty of Humanities, the Department of Visual Arts has obtained funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation with a research project entitled 'Visual technologies: critical encounters'. The project will cover three broad themes: Nomadic identity; Intersections between digital humanities and visual culture; and Sexuality and medical humanities.

Visual culture and art as commodity have been profoundly affected by contemporary technological conditions in which the linear has become deeply infused with an almost acoustic simultaneity and the stable has been forced into dialogue with the fragmentary and the decentralised. The Visual Technologies: Critical Encounters project aims to provide a critical examination of the specific place and role of visual technologies in shaping cultures and identities, where the word 'technology' is not used in any typically mechanistic or utilitarian logic. Rather, it points to Marshall McLuhan’s idea of technologies or media as “extensions of ourselves”. Thus technology is regarded for the purposes of this project as a prosthesis that introduces a new scale into our encounters with the world and leads to the production of visual culture of a specific kind, inviting critical speculation on a range of visual technologies and contexts. In their digital, curatorial, archival, creative and theoretical dimensions, visual technologies have the potential to develop transdisciplinary discourses within academic disciplines in the humanities, as well as within the spatial, informational, medial and conceptual dimensions of society. The research will investigate vision, visuality and ocularcentrism in its technological dimensions and will lead to both text-based and creative outputs.

Project leaders:
Professor Jeanne van Eeden and Associate Professor Lize Kriel, Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria

Distinguished scholar:
Sarat Maharaj, Professor of Visual Art and Knowledge Systems, Lund University, Sweden

PhD student:
Mr Daandry Steyn, Department of Visual Arts
Core team members:

Visual Studies

Prof Jeanne van Eeden, Head, Department of Visual Arts, UP
Prof Lize Kriel, Associate Prof, Department of Visual Arts, UP
Prof Amanda du Preez, Associate Prof, Department of Visual Arts, UP
Rory du Plessis, Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, UP

Fine Arts
Prof Elfriede Dreyer (former project leader)
Pieter Swanepoel, Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, UP
Johan Thom, professional artist and independent scholar

Information Design

Fatima Cassim, Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, UP
Anneli Bowie, lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, UP

Current postgraduate students who are involved
Adele Adendorff (PhD student)
Robyn Cook (PhD student)
Leana van der Merwe (MA student)
Qawe Mbalu (MA student)
Karen Mentz (MA student)
Sikho Siyotula (MA student)

Research outputs: Nomad Bodies
A practice-led exchange project between the Department of Visual Arts and the Royal College of Fine Arts, Artesis University College, Antwerp, took place from 18 December 2013 to 28 February 2014 under the auspices of the Mellon funded ‘Visual technologies: critical encounters’ project. The research project’s main aim was to set up critical encounters with a range of visual contexts in their digital, curatorial, archival, creative and theoretical dimensions. Such encounters have the potential to develop and engage trans- and cross-disciplinary discourses within the spatial, informational, medial and conceptual technologies of visual culture.

The project included exchanges between Prof Elfriede Dreyer and Prof Kris Van’t Hof and included several site visits, lectures, presentations, in situ projects, student assessments, and an exhibition entitled Nomad bodies curated by Prof Elfriede Dreyer at Artesis. The exhibition is concerned with research on notions of the urban walker, the flâneur, transience, nomadic cultural patterns and movement, transgenderism and volatile transtechnology usage. Nomad bodies presented critical visual representations of nomadism as it relates to embodied technologies, materials and concepts. Nine artists’ work will be shown involving the work of graduate students, lecturers and other South African artists. They are: Diane Victor, Jayna Mistry, Titus Matiyane, Robert Hamblin, Daandrey Steyn, Frikkie Eksteen, Sikho Siyotula, Heidi Fourie, Senzeni Marasela, Ismail Farouk, Simon Rush and Johan Thom. The exhibition was accompanied by a published catalogue, and will be shown again at Fried Contemporary in May 2014.

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