Contemporary Female Identities in the Global South

Sep 17 - Jan 30 2021       1 Durris Rd, Forest Town
Installation view including Bharti Kher, Warrior with cloak and shield (2008); Shirin Neshat, Nida (Patriots), Sheida Jafari (Masses) and Sheida Dayani (Masses), from The Book of Kings series (2012); Berni Searle, Lament I, IV, VI (2011); and Nandipha Mntambo, What Remains (2019)
Installation view including Bharti Kher, Warrior with cloak and shield (2008); Shirin Neshat, Nida (Patriots), Sheida Jafari (Masses) and Sheida Dayani (Masses), from The Book of Kings series (2012); Berni Searle, Lament I, IV, VI (2011); and Nandipha Mntambo, What Remains (2019)
Photo Graham De Lacy, courtesy of JCAF
The Joburg Contemporary Art Foundation (or JCAF for short) is Joburg's newest contemporary art space, and the first non-profit art institution of its kind to open in Joburg in years. This is not a museum or a commercial gallery and there is no permanent art collection. Instead the new foundation envisages itself as a combination of academic research institute, and most crucially for Joburg art lovers, a platform for museum-quality exhibitions.

The JCAF's inaugural exhibition is Contemporary Female Identities in the Global South, the first in a trilogy of exhibitions that focus on the representation of the female subject by women artists, tracing three generations of art looking back to modernism and all the way up to the contemporary art of today.

In this first exhibition in the trilogy (which will be on show for at least half a year) the works of five of the most globally recognised contemporary artists from the Global South region are spotlighted; Bharti Kher (India, UK); Wangechi Mutu (Kenya, USA); Nandipha Mntambo (South Africa); Shirin Neshat (Iran, USA) and Berni Searle (South Africa).
Installation view including Wangechi Mutu, Water Woman (2017); Nandipha Mntambo, Europa (2008); Bharti Kher, Self portrait (2007); and Nandipha Mntambo, Sengifikile (2009).
Photo Graham De Lacy, Images courtesy of JCAF.
Curator Clive Kellner describes the stunning and immersive exhibition as "a personalised encounter with several of the leading artists of our time, reflecting on pertinent issues of race and identity, through highly poetic and resonant images, sculptures and videos”.  

JCAF places a firm emphasis on technology and its use in experiencing art with some particularly notable lighting and audio-visual equipment. None of the works on display are labelled, instead you are invited to explore and contemplate the works free from labels and download the JCAF app or use one of the ipads on offer to find out more about the artists and their works. Even better yet visitors have the option of taking a walkabout with one of the curators which we highly recommend.
Installation view including Bharti Kher, Mother (2016); and Berni Searle, Snow White (2001).
Photo Graham De Lacy, courtesy of JCAF

The works on display in this impressive opening exhibition are at once intriguing, mesmerising, disconcerting and hypnotic.

Highlights include a glistening black mystical mermaid by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu and an utterly compelling two-channel video installation by the acclaimed Iranian artist Shirin Neshat which simultaneously provides a feeling of watching and being watched, and of being both a part of a ritual and entirely an observer of it. Neshat's video also contrasts beautifully with another set of video installations by South African artist Berni Searle whose haunting performative pieces highlight the ingrained narratives of history, identity, memory, and place in South Africa's post-colonial context. 

Brought together in this soaring new space, the exhibition is a powerful collection of works, very thoughtfully curated to speak to a broad range of female experiences, as curator Clive Kellner points out; “what becomes evident in each of the artworks is that none of the women speak, yet they have so much to say. Through gesture, pose and the gaze, both the inner subjective experience and external form give prominence to the black female body"

How to arrange a visit to the JCAF

Entrance to the JCAF is free although to visit you must first make an appointment online at You can book for between one and five people at a time and each group of visitors will be given access to a guide with the JCAF team also on hand should you wish to discover the exhibition in more depth. 

The foundation is open Tuesday to Saturday and appointments allow for a 1 hour 45 minute visit. Find out more and book your visit at



Sep 17 2020 - Jan 30 2021
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Price/Additional Info

Admission free

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