New fixed-year membership cycle!

Dear SAVAH community,

We have moved to a fixed-year membership cycle running from 1 July to 30 June. To celebrate our membership base during these difficult times, we have applied extensions up to 30 June 2021 or 2022 depending on your membership status. You will now receive automatic reminders about renewals at the end of a SAVAH year.

We invite you to log in to our website to check and update your details. 

In particular, we would like you to let us know if you require access to De Arte journal (go to Update Details and select yes/no at the bottom of the form). 

We have implemented a new membership management system, so please direct any problems or glitches you encounter to

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you at our conference later this year! Remember that a valid SAVAH membership will get you a reduced rate at the conference.

We will post more information about the conference on the website soon.

Regards, SAVAH Council

35th Annual SAVAH Conference – Third Call for Papers

To be hosted by the research entity Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs and the Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. This virtual conference will take place late September/early October 2021 (date TBC).

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THIRD CALL FOR PAPERS (click here to submit yours)

Untold stories

“Stories give flesh to the bare bones. Out of stories, we make culture, not from the bones of the dead, though the bones are the rationale for stories being told. Whereas in art, this impulse is clearer, science too is about telling certain stories. It is out of stories that we make society. Out of stories an individual constructs a self.” Kopano Ratele, Life of Bone (2011)

“All of which makes up a story I do not choose to tell. I choose not to tell it because to no one, not even to you, do I owe proof that I am a substantial being with a substantial history in the world” JM Coetzee, Foe (1986)

Stories capture the elusiveness of creating and imagining by linking the act of telling with being. Stories make us, and we make ourselves through the stories we hear and don’t hear, tell and don’t tell. Over millennia and across cultures, stories about particular places, persons, materials, objects, or ideas have been told and retold in different ways and from different perspectives. In the process, some narratives have gone unheard, unseen or have even actively been silenced. The year 2020 marks the beginning of a new decade. How might we re-imagine our collective past and imagine the future through the creation of new stories or the un-telling of old stories? How do we go about uncovering, sharing or recording previously untold or silenced stories – our own and those of others?

We propose that engagement with the work of artists, artworks, visual culture and design, as practices of storytelling or narrative, may offer constructive ways of understanding, unravelling, and contributing to current discourse on the visual field.

We invite papers that explore, inquire, and reflect on visual expression and ways of storytelling that work towards acknowledging, understanding, and (re-)visualising narratives. This is an invitation to scholars to evaluate and re-evaluate positions taken in the field (conceptual and metaphorical frameworks and locations), or in relation to material objects and their existences or locations.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Tensions between visuality, materiality, orality, and textuality in and through narrative
  • Visual storytelling (such as artist’s books, graphic novels, cartoons, illustration, animation, branding and campaigns)
  • Relating experiences of place and space or situatedness through stories
  • Collaborative storytelling and ways of collectively engaging with or sharing stories
  • Notions of truth and fiction, history and myth in visual storytelling
  • Memory, remembrance, visual narrative and re-story-ation
  • Palimpsests, intertextuality, bricolage and (visual) layers of narrative
  • Liminality and boundary crossing
  • Surfacing the hidden through storytelling
  • Archives, archival material and subaltern voices

We also invite papers from SAVAH members on current research that engages topics not included in this call for papers. Please submit an abstract of between 300 and 400 words via the website by 15 April 2021.

Any questions relating to the conference can be sent to

Statement condemning all forms of unfair discrimination

The South African Visual Art Historians Association (SAVAH) condemns all forms of prejudice and discrimination based on race, gender, class, socio-economic position and/or disability.    

In making this statement, we seek not to be expedient but to acknowledge how much events in May and June 2020 have reminded us of our own shortcomings and the challenges that we face in overcoming them. We acknowledge, and are committed to, transformation as an ongoing process.

Message from SAVAH Council re: 35th Annual Conference

Due to the global health crisis, we have decided to postpone the SAVAH conference until 2021 (dates to be announced).

We thank those who have submitted abstracts for the conference, and we will respond to them individually in due course. We hope that those whose abstracts are accepted will be able to attend the 2021 conference.  Seeing as the SAVAH Annual General Meeting will not be held this year because of the conference postponement, it has been decided that the mandate of the current Council would exceptionally be extended. The election of a new Council will take place at the 2021 conference. If you have an objection to this decision, we invite you to contact SAVAH President Alison Kearney, SAVAH Secretary Landi Raubenheimer or another member of SAVAH Council.