Keep ARTing with UJ

Arts & Culture at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) announced its ambitious plans for 2021 that present numerous opportunities for its students, staff, and arts audiences to keep ARTing.

A division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), UJ Arts & Culture will offer opportunities for professionals in the creative sector to engage on critical issues and the division’s ongoing partnership and collaboration with local creatives and producers will continue to make meaningful contributions to the arts and culture landscape through the development and production of original South African work. Aspirant, emerging, and established playwrights will once again have access to various development opportunities through an online playwriting programme and true to form, the division will embark on several interdisciplinary experimental projects including a socio-political fable web-series, an isiZulu educational drama podcast, and physical and virtual exhibitions and artist walkabouts.

“The challenging part of curating content during the time of a pandemic is designing something that offers a whole lot of flexibility and certainty at the same time,” says Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture.

It is not only the division’s public offering that needed a unique approach, the UJ Arts Academy too has undergone major changes to ensure that students, staff, and alumni can continue to access art content and participate in artistic activities during a time when a reprieve from the current realities are more important than ever.

“When there is a massive decline in emotional and mental health, often leading to catastrophic events, the responsibility of those who are privileged enough to curate arts and culture content during this time is immense. We hope that in 2021 we can harness the power of the arts and creativity to positively impact the mental and emotional state of our students, staff and community and we hope that our actions during this critical time will be of value to the arts and culture industry too,” says Jacobs.

UJ Vice Chancelor Professor Tshilidzi Marwala’s opening address will set the scene for the inaugural Futures & Beyond: Where creativity & 4IR meet, presented in partnership with Andani.Africa. The forum is set to be a gathering of leading minds on arts and the fourth industrial revolution to discuss Africa-led strategies for creativity and innovation in technology.

Partnerships and collaborations include Unfathomable, Alex Helligey’s theatrical film experiment, Hlakanyana, a retelling of the Zulu folktale developed in partnership with Madevu Entertainment and another iteration of UJ Arts & Culture’s 2020 co-production of Mothers’ Grimm with Jade Bowers Design and Management. In partnership with Alberta Whittle and Farieda Nazier, the division will co-present an interdisciplinary project, Right of Admission Retrospective, host internationally acclaimed Broken Borders’ dance project. A new exciting conference partnership will see UJ Arts & Culture host the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa (DEFSA) and its longstanding partnership with MTN Foundation will see the division increase its online efforts in the visual arts sphere.

The UJ Playwriting Lab will open for applications for the second intake of playwrights in February. Once again, the programme will see up to twelve playwrights each develop a new theatre work this year. A key feature of the programme is a series of free playwriting masterclasses that is accessible, not only to the selected playwrights, but also to UJ students and anyone else interested in writing for theatre. This year, the programme will expand its scope to include recorded readings of a limited number of the plays that were written in 2020, which will be released via podcast.

As part of the division’s creative production, a team comprising members of UJ Arts & Culture will take on an experimental web-series, Skeletons, written by Pieter Jacobs, directed by Jade Bowers with movement and choreography by Lakin Morgan-Baatjies and designed by Karabo Mtshali. Another experimental creative endeavour is the educational drama podcast series that the division will produce with UJ Arts Academy students, titled R&J Unplugged, an adaptation and isiZulu translation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Despite the challenges that all choirs around the globe face, UJ Choir’s management will embark on a new, exciting project of documenting and arranging a selection of our country’s rich heritage of traditional African music that will allow enthusiasts of the choral genre a chance to delve into some of the many colourful modes of life in South Africa, all while offering a musical capsule of preservation.

All 2021 exhibitions will feature on the UJ Art Gallery’s Moving Cube platform including 3D exhibits, interviews with artists, curators and critics, articles, and quizzes. In addition to accessing exhibitions on the UJ Art Gallery’s Moving Cube online platform and attending real-time virtual walkabouts, the gallery will offer opportunities for patrons to make exclusive individual appointments to visit the gallery depending on the University’s response to Covid-19.

First up this year is Lwandiso Njara’s Engineering the new Jerusalem III: The Digital City, followed by Diane Victor’s Folly, Frailty and Fear and Pauline Gutter’s Regeneration. By mid-year, much-anticipated video work, ghosted matter/phantom hurt, by Leora Farber will be released on Moving Cube followed by the Right of Admission Retrospective and Paul Emmanuel’s Substance of Shadows.

Following the successful release of Willem Boshoff’s Blind Alphabet docu-series released on Moving Cube last year, an exhibition of forty artworks of Boshoff’s Blind Alphabet, Letter B: Babery to Bigeminate will be exhibited at the UJ Art Gallery. The works of the ten finalists and that of the winner of the 2020 Emerging Artist Development Programme, supported by the MTN SA Foundation, will be shown alongside Boshoff’s works.

More about the projects:


Theatrical film experiment

Presented by Alex Halligey and UJ Arts & Culture

Dates: 2021 / 2022

Winner of a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award on the 2019 National Arts Festival Fringe, this image-based work wades, drifts, floats through the waters of unprocessed grief. The work combines Athena Mazarakis’s theatre-making, choreographic and embodied devising approach, Alex Halligey’s writing and performance and Jenni-Lee Crewe’s design.

UJ Playwriting Laboratory

Online playwriting development programme

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture

Dates: February – November

The second year of this programme sees it expanding its scope to include recorded readings of selected plays from those written in 2020, which will be released via podcast. A more familiar aspect of the programme is the guided process with twelve playwrights working on new plays over a few months and a playwriting masterclass series that will also be repeated.

Futures & Beyond: Where creativity & 4IR meet

Online forum

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Andani.Africa

Dates: 16 – 17 March

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is still a developing field of understanding, with shifting definitions and growing knowledge. This forum seeks to stimulate robust discussion and curious exploration of 4IR within the context of the creative sector.

Engineering and the new Jerusalem III: The Digital City

Virtual & physical exhibition

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Lwandiso Njara

Dates: 3 – 24 March

Lwandiso Njara works around various themes like human existence within technocratic social orders, and his own spiritual journey through Christianity and ancestral rituals. This new exhibition will include new oil paintings, sculpture, and drawings.

Folly, Frailty and Fear

Virtual & physical exhibition

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Diane Victor

Dates: 7 April – 19 May

Well-known South African artist and print maker, Diane Victor, is known for her satirical and social commentary of contemporary South African politics. Folly, Frailty and Fear will feature drawings and installations.

Mothers’ Grimm

Behind the scenes creation of Theatre for Young Audiences Web Series

Presented by Jade Bowers Design and Management and UJ Arts & Culture

Date: 7 – 12 June

Familiar tales with an unfamiliar spin. It’s 2021 and even the Grimm Brothers have to get with the times. Goldilocks, Cinderella, and Snow White all come together in this coming-of-age story.


Virtual & physical exhibition

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Pauline Gutter

Dates: 9 June – 21 July

Gutter, known for her monumental works addressing issues of power and land through the analogy of the unstable situation in the agricultural sector, now focuses on universal themes of negligence, decay, and conflict between the use of machines and the land. Through these convoluted cycles, nature still prevails.


Experimental web-series

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture

Date: 19 – 24 July

Written by Pieter Jacobs, directed by Jade Bowers with movement and choreography by Lakin Morgan-Baatjies and designed by Karabo Mtshali, this experimental fantasy brings issues of land and ownership into focus.

Right of Admission Retrospective

Interdisciplinary performance art

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture, Alberta Whittle and Farieda Nazier

Dates: 11 – 25 August

Farieda Nazier and Alberta Whittle have worked collaboratively on the research project, Right of Admission (RoA) since 2014. This retrospective resonates with the ongoing nature of this body of research that takes shape in the form of performance, intervention and archive.

ghosted matter/phantom hurt

Video & Animation

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Leora Faber

Dates: 1 July

This exhibition by artist, academic writer, researcher, curator and post-graduate supervisor, Leora Farber, consists of video and animation works.

Substance of Shadows

Virtual & physical exhibition

Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Paul Emmanuel

Dates: 4 September – 2 October

Paul Emmanuel, best known for employing various media to reveal layered visions concerned with his identity living in post-apartheid South Africa, will create a new body of work including videos, drawings and installations.

Broken Borders Dance Project


Presented by Broken Borders and UJ Arts & Culture

Dates: 13 – 18 September

Committed to creating South African dance theatre that interrogates personal and social issues, Broken Borders Dance Project has developed thought-provoking work that have had successful local and international runs since 2017.

DEFSA Conference

Virtual and physical conference

Hosted by UJ Arts & Culture

Dates: 4 – 7 October

DEFSA is the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa. The non-profit organisation provides a platform for academics in the design education sector to engage in research, best practice and networking through various mechanisms including a biennial conference, workshops and an interactive website that hosts peer reviewed and published research papers.



Presented by UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment

Date: 20 – 24 October

Hlakanyana is an Afrofuturistic retelling of the stories and adventures of Hlakanyana, a prominent anti-hero in Zulu folklore. In waiting for 2022 when the production will be staged with Janice Honeyman as director, some of the music and a sneak peak of what storytelling awaits will be revealed during a virtual concert.

R&J Unplugged

Educational drama podcast series

UJ Arts & Culture present

Date: October

During 2020, UJ Arts & Culture translated an adaptation of the Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for performance by UJ Arts Academy students in isiZulu. The adaptation, originally intended for the stage, will be rearticulated as a radio drama to be released as a series of podcasts accompanied with optional lessons for secondary learners who study the play as a prescribed work.

Blind Alphabet, Letter B: Babery to Bigeminate

Physical & virtual exhibition

UJ Arts & Culture and MTN Foundation SA present

Dates: 13 October – 24 November

An exhibition of forty artworks from Willem Boshoff’s Blind Alphabet, Letter B: Babery to Bigeminate. The works by the ten finalists of the Emerging Artist Development Programme, created in reaction to Boshoff’s work, will also be on display. An exciting new curatorial programme for 2022, derived from the successful partnership between the UJ Art Gallery and the MTN SA Foundation will be announced.

For all updates on UJ Arts & Culture’s Keep ARTing programme, go to and For more information, please contact Lakin Morgan-Baatjies at Alternatively, follow UJ Arts & Culture on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates.

About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA ( offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.