Kunstinstituut Melly Announces Gabi Ngcobo as its New Director

Starting in January 2024, Ngcobo will continue the Rotterdam Institution's collaborative approach to face acute questions of our time.

Gabi Ngcobo

Gabi Ngcobo

Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam appoints Gabi Ngcobo as its new director. The internationally renowned curator arrives from her position as director of Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria and will take over her new role in January 2024.

The director’s appointment follows an open call and has a maximum tenure of six years. Ngcobo will succeed Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, director since 2018.

“We are convinced that Gabi Ngcobo’s experience and ideas will be of great significance to our institution in the coming years, as much as to the field of contemporary art in the Netherlands and abroad. We look forward to her arrival, and to warmly welcome her at Melly”, says Annet Lekkerkerker, chair of Kunstinstituut Melly’s Supervisory Board since 2017.

“I’m excited and honored to be joining Kunstinstituut Melly as its director. This is an institution with a critical history; an institution that has had to face head-on challenging questions of our time. I look forward to working with the team towards the next steps”, states Ngcobo, who adds that Melly’s strength is a very collaborative, human friendly, accountable, and future-looking approach.

In recent years, Ngcobo was key in positioning Javett-UP as a living academy. She organized several exhibitions there since 2021, as well as new commissions with artists Oscar Murillo, Nolan Oswald Dennis and Luana Vitra, among others. Previously, Ngcobo was the curator of the tenth edition of the Berlin Biennale in 2018, We Don’t Need Another Hero, and was part of the curatorial team of the thirty-second edition of the São Paulo Biennale in 2016, Incenteza Viva.

Van der Heide explains that the search committee was impressed by Gabi Ngcobo’s collaborative leadership style, management experience, and curatorial vision. The committee chair also says that, “Ngcobo’s proven track record in contemporary art, education, curating and international collaboration, in addition to her successful leadership of noteworthy biennials and arts organizations make her very well-suited to lead the development of Kunstinstituut Melly towards an exciting future.”

The search committee noted that Gabi’s visionary practice as a curator—and also as an artist and educator—is rooted in lived experience. She examines global discourses and cultural developments, and tangibly relates these to her immediate surroundings. Van der Heide adds, “There is a common quest to transform institutions towards being more just and joyous. Ngcobo is well experienced in public engagement; she brings people along, and encourages people to be authentically themselves. She is an open collaborator. She has an understanding that radicality has roots, and that this means looking into history as much as into the future.”



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