Curating Performance Art in South Africa


FOCUS11, Basel


June 11 – 12 2011, 10am – 06pm
Symposium@FOKUS11, Basel, Switzerland 


It's the job of the next generation of curators to see how performance works will be presented. as acclaimed South African-born art historian RoseLee Goldberg puts it. And to continue Goldberg's claim: How might today's generation of curators present performance works from the southern hemisphere, respectively Africa?

Elaborating a curatorial project dedicated solely to performance art has drawn an increasing attention to curators during the last years, not only in Europe, but of course in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Beyond performance art as side-event of art fairs or as opening-event of biennials, today aspiring curators intend to move beyond those mournful phenomena of the past.

Curating performance art requires sensitivity to the specific character of the art practice, and its historical and disciplinary contexts. The recent curatorial project Alterating Conditions: Performing Performance Art in South Africa was constituted as medium-based curatorial approach. The exhibition in Johannesburg looked inside performance art in South Africa and presented both emerging and established artists who work with the medium or the concept of performance. Hence, this talk aims to investigate recent strategies of curating performance works with regard to locational specificities in South Africa.


After 2009 and 2010 FOCUS launches its third edition in June 2011. FOCUS11 is designed to present and connect the vibrant African art scene to the world. Conceived as a complement to Art Basel (June 15-19, 2011), FOCUS11 showcases a huge variety of artists and galleries. In a relaxed and intimate atmosphere visitors of FOCUS11 will experience a huge variety of artistic production from the diverse scenes all over the African continent and from the African Diaspora.

Symposium@FOCUS11 presents shortly before the opening of FOCUS11 two days of interdisciplinary discussions and interactions.  The symposium examines the critical role of live performance. What roles do live performances play in today's galleries, public and art spaces?


© — Claudia Marion Stemberger 2019