What is South Africa, Even? Vol.2 | Curated by Carlyn Strydom

Bag Factory Artists Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa
28 Feb 2019 - 20 Mar 2019

Simphiwe Buthelezi, Ehlathini, Straw on canvas, 55cm x 80cm, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Bag Factory Artists' Studios

What is South Africa, even? Vol.2, a group exhibition curated by Carlyn Strydom, recipient of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios 2018 Curatorial Development Programme, features works by Jasmin Valcarcel, Thina Dube, Ronald Muchatuta, Vivien Kohler, Neo Gilder, Andrew Ntshabele and Simphiwe Buthelezi.

The exhibition is a long-term project which aims to reflect on our shared experiences as people living in South Africa. This second iteration of What is South Africa, even? continues to explore the notion of a country coming to terms with itself as a diverse and complex society. Not bound by national borders or nationality, the exhibition is an attempt to understand and imagine a country beyond the outdated and parochial definition of the term ‘nation’. Each selected artist brings personal insight to the theme, contributing to a wider conversation on the relevance of such a term given our myriad ‘origin stories’ (thinking historically).

As a country trying to recover from its violent history which extends beyond its borders, an interrogation of the past and its impact on our present-day lived realities is essential. How have structural inequalities shaped the country? How do our own histories and expectations living here reflect how we interact with the space that is South Africa? The diverse group of artists, who are South African and non-South African, explore themes of belonging, depression in black men, identity politics, isolation and migration using a range of artistic methods to produce a cohesive exhibition.


Curatorial Walkabout: Saturday 2 March 2019, 11am – 12pm

The exhibition is made possible by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios Curatorial Development Programme, sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture.


Carlyn Strydom is a researcher and curator with an interest in South African history and heritage particularly as it relates to slavery and the effects of that system on contemporary society. Her research extends to the role of museums in society and the nature of contemporary African art. She holds a B.A in English and Media Studies, a B.A Honours in Curatorship and an MPhil in Heritage and Public Culture. She currently works as an independent curator in Gauteng.




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