Nomusa Makhubu

Nomusa Makhubu


Artist and Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, University of Cape Town
ArtRage and the Politics of Reconciliation
Mandela Mellon Fellow
Fall 2017


Nomusa Makhubu (BFA, MA, PhD, PGDHE)

Dr Makhubu is a senior lecturer of Art History at the University of Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art, and has a PhD in Art History from Rhodes University. Makhubu's research focuses on art interventionism, popular culture and social engagement in African visual art. She is the recipient of the ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award (2006), the Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy (2014) and the First Runner Up in the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Women in Science Awards. With a National Research Foundation Y1 rating, Makhubu’s recent publications include “Screening the Fantastic – Citizenship and Postcolonial Theoconomies in African Video-Film and Photography” (African Identities, 2017), “Art by any Other Name: Mediated Performance Art and Temporality in Early Nollywood Video-film” (Critical African Studies, 2017), “This House Is Not for Sale: Nollywood’s Spatial Politics and Concepts of ‘Home’ in Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Art” (African Arts, 2016) and “Interpreting the Fantastic: Video-film as Intervention” (Journal of African Cultural Studies, 2016). She co-edited a Third Text Special Issue: ‘The Art of Change’ (2013) and co-curated the international exhibition, Fantastic, in 2015. Makhubu is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science and the College Art Association (CAA) International Committee, the Chair of the Africa South Art Initiative, and a member of the research team for Comparing "WE's": Cosmopolitanism, Emancipation, Postcoloniality at Lisbon University's Centre for Comparative Studies. Makhubu is an alumna of College Art Association-Getty International Programme. She is also a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. She was an African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential Fellow in 2016, an Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation research fellow (2010) and an Institute for Creative Arts (UCT) fellow (2017). She teaches in the Stanford University Bing Overseas Studies Programme.

Project Description

ArtRage and the Politics of Reconciliation

Focusing on the visual symbolism of the Shackville protests in 2016, this chapter engages with the raw sentiment that has been cloaked by the rhetoric of reconciliation, diversity, and inclusiveness. Angry demonstrations – precipitated by the fragmentary nature of post-1994 South African publics – have been targeted specifically at artworks. Retreating from often-limited forms of “open public debate”, recent creative protests have made impact through engaging with public visual symbols. This necessitates re-examining the kinds of decisions that were taken about existing symbols and art in public spaces in the early post-1994 years. Many of these decisions were aimed at subduing emotions about the injustices of apartheid, healing wounds, and constructing “common” narratives as public memory. They were embroiled in the politics of reconciliation. While this presentation recognizes, the place-specific nuances of the current reconciliation rhetoric amid public outrage, it seeks to analyze the analogies involved. Like the nomenclature of the 1995 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) such as Gugulethu Seven and the Cradock Four, students who were arrested for the Shackville protest came to be known as the Shackville Five. This raises the question: why, when reconciliation had come under scrutiny for not delivering justice, have the current protests returned to the politics of reconciliation. Through a discussion of art that is contested and art that is created to contest, this presentation links the various strands of debates about art in public places in the post-1994 decades with those arising from recent protests since 2015, but specifically the Shackville protests in 2016.

Fall 2017: Mandela Mellon Fellow


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