Ângela Ferreira: South Facing

Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa
07 May 2017 - 30 Jul 2017

Ângela Ferreira, Sites and Services, 1991–92. Photographic silver gelatin print. ​© Ângela Ferreira.

Ângela Ferreira, Sites and Services, 1991–92. Photographic silver gelatin print. ​© Ângela Ferreira.

South Facing is Ângela Ferreira’s first solo exhibition at a public institution in South Africa. The exhibition includes recent and previously unseen work as well as a new commission in response to the Gallery’s Meyer Pienaar extension.

Built in 1989 during the final years of apartheid, the extension was intended to create a more accessible public threshold between the original neo-classical colonial-era building and the adjacent urban park. Inherent structural problems resulted in JAG’s temporary closure in 2017, providing an opportunity to re-examine the relationship between an institution once regarded as a symbol of elitism with its emergent multicultural post-apartheid urban context. Continuing an oeuvre of architecturally-responsive critical artworks, the commission draws on the visual history of the construction processes of the extension, particularly the contentious barrel-like copper-vaulted roofs, extending Ferreira’s ongoing investigations into colonial-era mining in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Stone Free, 2012, and Entrer dans la Mine, 2013).

Ferreira’s work is concerned with the ongoing impact of colonialism and post-colonialism in the present, particularly in the Global South. Her primary area of investigation has been the translation of modernism in the African-colonial context, and the complex social, aesthetic and architectural legacies of the modernist project. Ferreira’s practice draws its visual criticality from her dual African Portuguese identity, and the resulting body of work is rooted in South Africa, Mozambique and Portugal. The Johannesburg exhibition connects these three spaces, and provides an opportunity for audiences to engage with the artist’s multi-disciplinary research-based practice.

The exhibition includes, among other works, Werdmuller Centre (2010), which considers the utopian political idealism of South African modernist vocabulary of the 1970’s; Maison Tropicale (footprints) (2007), which traces the history of the French designer Jean Prouvé’s housing project and investigates the ways in which European modernism adapted or failed to adapt to the realities of the African continent; and Sites and Services (1991-1992), which references the racialised provision of infrastructure under apartheid.

Curated by Amy Watson

A catalogue with newly commissioned texts by Jürgen Bock, Alda Costa and Rafael Mouzinho, Pamila Gupta, Noëleen Murray and Amy Watson accompanies the exhibition.

About the Johannesburg Art Gallery
The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) is committed to preserving and providing access to South Africa’s art heritage, and to recognising neglected artists and practices within this heritage, through exhibitions, publications and education programmes.

With the generous assistance of the Friends of JAG, which raises funds to support the gallery’s programming, the Johannesburg Art Gallery is able to maintain one of South Africa’s foremost public collections of nineteenth, 20th and 21st century African and European art.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of the Ministério da Cultura / Direção-Geral das Artes, University of the Witwatersrand / Wits City Institute, Camões – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, Camões – Centro Cultural Português (Maputo), Embassy of Portugal in South Africa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, City of Joburg, Friends of JAG and the Emile Stipp Collection.


Opening + performance: May 7, 4–7pm
Corner Klein and King George Streets
Joubert Park
2044 South Africa



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