UJ Art Gallery goes online with CURE

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) proudly presents CURE, a digital exhibition featuring work by South African artists, opening online on 14 September 2020. In this exhibition, the artists, all established in their own individual practice, explore and interrogate in their work passages to a new level of planetary civilization, essential to ensure the survival of the human race.

Shortly after the national lockdown period was announced as a means to curb the spread of the corona virus in South Africa, UJ Arts & Culture launched The Pandemic Project, an interdisciplinary project on the University of Johannesburg online platform. The Pandemic coincided with the release of the UJ Choir’s most recent album When the Earth Stands Still.

With levels of lockdown still in place while the pandemic is raging the UJ Art Gallery is hosting CURE, an online exhibition following the format of The Pandemic, curated by Annali Dempsey, curator of the UJ Gallery, and guest curator Johan Myburg.

‘Although the title of the exhibition might hint at finding a cure for the virus, the scope of the exhibition is much broader to include the curative qualities of art, bridging the gap between nature and technology as proposed in Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Terzo Paradiso (Third Paradise),’ says Myburg.

The aspect of art as cure, as restorative endeavour, serves as the main tenet of CURE, an exhibition focusing on our passage through the world, on reflection and reconciliation between the natural and the artificial. In this exhibition a total of seventeen South African artists explore and interrogate this curative aspect of art in this exhibition. The participating artists are Eric Duplan, Paul Emmanuel, Kieron Jina, Donna Kukama, Songezile Madikida, Senzeni Marasela, Kagiso Pat Mautloa, Hannelie Coetzee, Blessing Ngobeni, Nhlanhla Nhlapo, Lwandiso Njara, Zolile Phetsane, Jan Tshikhuthula, Hentie van der Merwe, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Jake Singer and Minnette Vári.

Pistoletto (b 1933), Italian artist and one of the stars of the Arte Povera movement, considers the Third Paradise as the passage to a new level of planetary civilization, essential to ensure the survival of the human race. The Third Paradise is a fusion between the First and Second Paradise.

The first, according to Pistoletto, is the paradise in which humans were fully integrated into nature. The second is the artificial paradise, developed by human intelligence to globalizing proportions through science and technology. This paradise is made of artificial needs, artificial products, artificial comforts, artificial pleasures and every other form of artifice. Humankind has created a truly artificial world that has triggered, in an exponential manner and in parallel with beneficial effects, irreversible processes of decline and consumption of the natural world.

The Third Paradise is the third phase of humanity, realised as a balanced connection between the conflicting paradises of artifice and nature.

‘Michelangelo Pistoletto’s prophetic vision of a Third Paradise where nature and technology share a middle-ground is now more important than ever,’ says Dempsey. ‘In a post-industrial and fourth industrial revolution (4IR) era, where creativity is considered one of the top key skills, artists may just be considered to be part of the way ahead. The curative nature of the arts is thus not only to be found in art production, but in acknowledgment of resulting philosophies, necessary for the restructuring of society.’

Apart from merely showing the artworks, CURE includes short video footage of the individual artists producing their work. Extending the interdisciplinary approach initiated by The Pandemic Project, cuts from three album’s by the UJ Choir with Renette Bouwer as Senior Choir Master – Road Home (2011), Sweet Days (2015) and Peace (2018) – are used as inspiration and or soundtrack for the artists’ videos.

CURE is also linked to a virtual participative action research inquiry hosted by the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management at UJ. On 1 and 2 October Prof Freddie Crous, Head of the Department, will facilitate the name change and rebranding of the Department’s Centre for Work Performance to the Centre for Open Work. National and international departmental stakeholders (academic, professional and industry) will be invited to collaborate.

‘The intention is to apply the symbol (and its inherent philosophy) of Pistoletto as a point of departure, a guide and performative instrument for the Centre for Open Work’s future projects,’ says Crous. ‘The CURE exhibition will provide the first step in this journey by inspiring the participants in the virtual inquiry to be mindful of the symbol and what it represents when co-constructing the Centre’s vision, purpose and value proposition.’

CURE is available at https://arts.uj.ac.za/series/CURE2020/

For more information contact Annali Dempsey at aedempsey@uj.ac.za or Mia van Schalkwyk at miavs@uj.ac.za . High-resolution images of some of the artworks can be made available to the media upon request.


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 (www.uj.ac.za/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.

About the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, UJ

We live and work in challenging times, which requires people professionals who are outstanding leaders, both professionally and organisationally.

The mission of the Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, is to develop outstanding people

professionals who are fully equipped to rise and meet these challenges. The Department offers qualifications in three programmes:

Industrial Psychology, Human Resource Management and Leadership, all designed to prepare students for a radically different future.

Our trail-blazing postgraduate education and research are focused, nationally and internationally relevant, and at the cutting edge of people development and management.

About the Cittadelarte, Biella, Italy

Cittadellarte is an artistic and cultural institution where art is in direct interaction with different sectors of society.

Located in a repurposed wool mill in the historical textile centre of Biella, an Italian city at the foot of the Alps, this is a place where ideas and projects combine creativity and entrepreneurship with education, and where production, ecology and architecture, politics and spirituality, converge.

Its intention is to advance civilisation, by activating essential and compelling, responsible social change at both the local and the global level.

The social mission of Cittadellarte is expressed by its Third Paradise project.