Call for entries: The 2024 UJ and MTN New Contemporaries Award for emerging curators

Jul 7 - Sep 30 2024       University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park
Dream job, art curator? UJ Art Gallery and MTN SA Foundation are accepting entries for the 2024 New Contemporaries Award for young curators. It’s a fantastic opportunity for mentorship and hands-on practice, with the winner curating an exhibition that will open at UJ Art Gallery in early 2026. Apply here by Mon, Sep 30, 2024.

With a showstopping retrospective of Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi’s lost-and-found artworks in Ntlo E Etsamayang (Apr – May 2024) and, more recently, a celebration of original African storytelling in African Hero (Jun – Jul 2024), UJ Art Gallery does wonderful and wide-ranging work to foster the arts in this country. MTN also has a long track record of supporting arts and culture in South Africa through the MTN SA Foundation and the impressive MTN Art Collection; a socially and historically conscious collection of nearly 1,400 artworks.

The collaboration between these organisations has been flourishing since 2017. Now, UJ Art Gallery and the MTN SA Foundation come together again to host the New Contemporaries Award – a search for emerging curators in South Africa. Launched in 2001, the award was put on hiatus for 10 years, re-emerging in 2022 when Khanya Mashabela was crowned the winning curator. 

"Curatorship is a career path that most people are not aware of when they are younger, though I think that is changing," Mashabela told us in an interview following her win. "'Curator' is like 'artist'. It is a title that does not define a single kind of working environment or set of daily tasks. For me, it is defined as supporting artistic practice." Further, Mashabela explained, "I am interested in what separates art from other forms of culture. What is it able to express that many other fields cannot?" 

Mashabela's winning exhibition, Subject: Object at UJ Art Gallery from Nov 28, 2022 – Jan 15, 2023, featured work by artists who have gone from strength to strength since. Multidisciplinary artist Natalie Paneng was one of the four, whose curious solo Uncanny Valley at David Krut's The Blue House is unlike anything the space has showed before. For the 2022 iteration of the competition, Inga Somdyala won the overall Artist Award. His thoughtful installation The Deep History, the Long Past showed at the Wits Origins Centre this year as part of the exhibition Layers: Rock Art Across Space and TimeSubject: Object also included works by painter Callan Grecia and photographer Thandiwe Msebenzi
The four artists featured in Khanya Mashabela's 2022 winning exhibition, Subject: Object. From left to right, Callan Grecia, Natalie Paneng, Inga Somdyala, and Thandiwe Msebenzi. Photo: UJ Art Gallery.

The New Contemporaries Award is unique in that it's geared towards up-and-coming curators in South Africa's art scene, giving curatorial practitioners the practical help they need to kickstart their careers and start forging a name for themselves. "The partnership aims to provide mentorships in curatorial training, developing the next generation of contemporary South African artists and curators, and extending both institutions' footprints in the contemporary art space," says Niel Nortje, MTN Art Collection manager. 

Dr Dineke Orton, UJ Art Gallery curator, adds, "The MTN and UJ New Contemporaries Award provides a unique opportunity for a young curator to gain exposure and vital experience over several months. As part of the awards programme, the nominated curator will select and collaborate with four artists in curating an exhibition." 

The call to entries is open until Mon, Sep 30, 2024. Following this, the UJ Art Gallery and MTN SA Foundation curatorial teams will review submissions and shortlist candidates by Thu, Oct 31, 2024. The final selection made by the New Contemporaries Award Legacy Panel will be announced on Thu, Feb 13, 2025

Emerging curators can submit their applications here



Jul 7 2024 - Sep 30 2024
UJ Art Gallery
University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park
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