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Race in the Creative Community

Race in the Creative Community

In the lead up to the 10th Basha Uhuru Festival, the National Museum of African Art will host a 10-day series of art experiences titled “The Demonstration” at Constitution Hill from Sept. 15–24. “The Demonstration,” part of the museum’s NMAFA+ series, will include an exhibition, public conversations and artist-led city tours.

Curated by Johannesburg-based artist Siwa Mgoboza, “The Demonstration” experiences will focus on the theme of “Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past,” which aligns with the Smithsonian-wide initiative to address systemic racism and racial inequity in the U.S. and globally.

Beginning Sept. 15, members of the public are invited to an exhibition designed to support and amplify South African artists whose work pushes boundaries and provokes important conversations. Featured artists include Blessing Ngobeni, Patrick Bongoy, Luke Radloff, Nelisiwe Xaba & Mocke Jansen van Veuren, and Ayana V. Jackson.

The experiences will also include:
‘African Artists Host…’
-Public Conversations on Race and Migration, Incarceration, Media & Representation, Identity, Resistance and the Demonstration
-Curator-led exhibition tours
-Joburg Through the Eyes of Artists—Haroon Gunn-Salie, Senzeni Marasela, Jodie Pather and Layziehound

“We believe in art as an important catalyst for conversation and to reimagine change,” said Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art and herself a South African. “Siwa Mgoboza has brought together some remarkable artists to challenge us to confront issues of racism that are so persistent and pervasive in both American and South African societies. At NMAfA, we are reimagining the museum to help create sustainable, regenerative art ecosystems throughout global Africa, and NMAfA+ experiences are just the first step in this experimentation.”


Ayana V Jackson

As a preview to the experience, the National Museum of African Art partnered with the Moleskine Foundation for an intensive, five-day ‘AtWork’ workshop for young people on creative leadership and personal development. Led by renowned curator Simon Njami, the workshop brought together a mix of creative young people to reckon with themselves, what drives them and their personal histories.

“Our mission is to unlock the creative potential of young people all over the world to transform themselves and the communities around them,” said Adama Sanneh, CEO and co-founder of Moleskine Foundation. “We are excited to collaborate with NMAfA and Constitution Hill, with whom we share the same vision of creativity for social change. Our signature educational format ‘AtWork’, hosted for the first time in Johannesburg, helped spark new critical debates and conversation within this vibrant, young creative scene.”


Nelisiwe Xaba

It is especially poignant that the experience will take place at Constitution Hill, an iconic site of heritage, art and justice. It is a space that uses the heritage of the past to inspire the future through its Creative Hub and year-round programs in social justice, human rights and constitutional education.

“Constitution Hill is built on the key pillars of art and justice,” said Constitution Hill CEO Dawn Robertson. “This Smithsonian initiative for racial reckoning aligns completely with our efforts at Constitution Hill to inspire positive social change and build a more equitable future for all. It provides an opportunity for us to facilitate discussions around the complexities of racial and social justice while elevating and empowering the voices of young people through the public programs we will facilitate aligned to the exhibitions and workshops.”

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