MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award first curator announced

On 16 March, UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with the MTN SA Foundation launched the MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award Programme and announced Khanya Mashabela as this year’s curator.

Mashabela was successfully selected as the 2022 curator by the Legacy Panel and initiated her research process in February. The programme requires her to conduct comprehensive desk research of emerging South African visual art practitioners working in a contemporary genre. During the research phase, Mashabela will be travelling to studios, galleries, and museums in as many of the provinces as possible; study relevant contemporary literature; and consult extensively with other specialists in the field of contemporary South African art, to enable the nomination of four candidates who will participate in the next phase of the Awards programme.

“Khanya is an amazing curator, very bold. This year we really put the emphasis on a young, black female curator because it is so important to work towards gender equality. It is not very often that female curators have the opportunity to go into such spaces. As much as we would like to believe that everyone is offered equal opportunity in the arts space, female curators are often side-lined,” says Thabo Seshoka, curator of the UJ Art Gallery.

The Legacy Panel consists of four previous MTN New Contemporaries curators namely: Dr Kathryn Smith, Dr Portia Malatjie, Nontobeko Ntombela and Khwezi Gule with Melissa Goba, as the panel convener. The Legacy Panel was not only responsible for identifying and proposing the curator in November 2021; but will also assist with the subsequent phase of the programme in 2022 by verifying the curator’s research and proposal of the selected artists and acting as adjudicators when selecting the winning artist for the Gala event in October.

Mashabela will focus her work during the year on emerging artists working or moving into the digital or virtual format. This is in line with both the MTN Foundation’s mandate and UJ Arts & Culture’s strategy to advance the discourse around the relationship between the arts and technology. Furthermore, the MTN X UJ New Contemporaries Award Programme will have a dedicated space on UJ Art Gallery’s website, Moving Cube, allowing for increased exposure for the curator and participating artists.

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This project is supported by Business and Arts South Africa (BASA)


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 being home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre.


MTN SA Foundation’s purpose is to bring about meaningful, measurable and sustainable change that helps disadvantaged and rural communities to become self-sufficient. With a focus on innovative technology, we aim to uplift communities towards independence in this bold new digital world.

In the years since its launch, the MTN Art Collection has evolved into an appreciating corporate asset which facilitates dialogue between both artists and art lovers from different backgrounds, cultures and genres, contributing to ensuring that South Africa’s rich cultural heritage is passed from one generation to another. The Foundation will continue to support the creative industry and look for ways to integrate digital solutions into its art collection management. It has also committed to exploring ways in which digital solutions can be used for teaching and learning in the creative sector.