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19 January 2021 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo UFS Art Collection
Lucas Sithole, I won’t stop crying (detail), 1987, Iron wood, 70 x 58 x 33cm.


Click here to view the online exhibition 

Recent times have brought much uncertainty but one aspect of our modern life which remains a constant is our art. For the past 80 years the art collection at the University of the Free State (UFS) has been a significant aspect for research, teaching and cultural heritage. The current online exhibition called Something Contemporary is testament to that endurance and is open until the end of January 2021.

The exhibition is curated by Angela de Jesus, Assistant Director of the Johannes Stegmann Gallery at the UFS, and artist Teboho Mokhothu, and includes prominent artworks by renowned South African artists. “Noteworthy are the artworks Terra Incognita (1990) by Penny Siopis and I won’t stop crying (1987) by Lucas Sithole,” says De Jesus.  The curated exhibition features a selection of contemporary artworks from the UFS art collection. “The artworks on exhibition are works that were created after the mid-1970s,” says De Jesus. 

Making art collection more accessible 

This virtual exhibition and online tour of the Centenary Art Gallery on the Bloemfontein Campus was put together due to the current restrictions imposed by COVID-19. It also utilises the digital platform for audiences across all the campuses to engage with the collection. “In line with the transformation objectives of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), several projects are currently underway to display artworks in various UFS buildings,” says De Jesus.  

UFS art collection of great significance 

The UFS art collection boasts more than 1 200 art pieces and is a valuable source for research, scholarship, exhibition and education. “The art collection also greatly enhances the cultural life and aesthetic niveau (level) of the UFS and the surrounding region. Cultural collections are an integral part of the societies in which they exist and serve as foundations for collective memory, learning, debate, research and critical thinking.” says De Jesus. 

The gallery also had re-imagined several of its 2020 projects into the digital space. “New exciting projects were also initiated which responded to the pandemic and feelings of isolation, uncertainty, gender-based violence and the digital overload,” says De Jesus. Some of these projects are part of the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD), which was sponsored by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation

View some of the projects here: 

Stories in die Wind a short film animation web series about a young girl finding her purpose, based on the Nama story |!hûni //gāres |(The Rain Flower) Die reën blom: /Nanub !Khas. 

Digi-Cleanse a satirical artwork disguised as e-commerce website that mimics and critiques the contemporary wellness industry and its reliance on marketing and advertising. 

My Internal Oppression a musical theatrical performance of emotional content dedicated to women who have toiled with internal oppression as a result of the psychological and emotional trauma of gender-based violence caused by intimate partners. 

Sonic Re-Dress a collaborative meeting point between music, visual art, science and art therapy, the project specifically acknowledges the insecurity, fragility and discord within our current global pandemic context, by working with ‘universal’ human emotions.

Imaginary Futures an experimental project of live and participatory experiences with over more than 40 creative practitioners, consisting of sound and film mixing, drawing, animation, puppetry and performance. 

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