Demanding Recognition: Curatorial Challenges in the Exhibition of Art from South Africa

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

  • Vibe Nielsen
This PhD thesis explores how demands for recognition are influencing debates about curation and decolonisation in contemporary South Africa, where a wish to be recognised on the international art scene is constantly present in museum settings, art fairs and exhibitions. The demands are voiced by curators, artists, students and sex-workers, who demand to be heard in a world which they feel for many years has neglected Africa and African artists and not given them the attention they deserved. The demands for recognition they raise are sometimes demanding for the curators expected to deal with them: despite or because of their often privileged backgrounds, they too experience their lives in an ambivalent and “betwixt and between” (Turner 1967: 97) environment as challenging. The demands for recognition targeted at them and audiences in the Global North can be seen as a wish to be ascribed a positive status in a society in which black South Africans continuously are marginalised. Demands for recognition are often the driving force behind political movements and social struggle (Honneth 1995: 137; Taylor 1994: 25), but this thesis shows that they can also be one of the driving forces behind the establishment of a new museum: at the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, attempts to direct international attention toward the South African art market is not just a corporate adventure, but also an example of an institution that demands global recognition for Africa as a continent that for long has been overlooked in the global art world.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInstitut for Antropologi, Københavns Universitet
Number of pages221
ISBN (Print)978-87-7209-290-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Museums, Curation, South Africa, Recognition, Decolonisation, Contemporary Art, Zeitz MOCAA, Iziko SANG, Rhodes Must Fall

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