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SAVAH Conference 2016 Registration


Please download the form here: SAVAH Conference 2016 Registration Form

You can fill it in electronically and email it. Like magic!

Call For Papers – SAVAH Conference 2016



28-31 July 2016, Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, University of Johannesburg


Organising committee:  Prof Federico Freschi (SAVAH President), Prof Karen von Veh (SAVAH President ex-officio), Prof Brenda Schmahmann (South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg), Prof Judy Peter (University of Johannesburg), Landi Raubenheimer (SAVAH Secretary).


Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof Steven Nelson, Director, African Studies Center, UCLA, Los Angeles


The 31st annual conference of the South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH) will take place at the University of Johannesburg on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 July 2015. It will commence with a welcoming event on the evening of Thursday 28 July and end with tours on the morning of Sunday 31 July.

Rethinking Art History and Visual Culture in a Contemporary Context


The “Rhodes Must Fall” and “Fees Must Fall” campaigns which arose in South Africa in the course of 2015, while focused on transformative agendas in a broad sense, also emphasised how various inheritances from the West have played a fundamental role in shaping universities – not only in terms of their curricula but also their institutional cultures more generally. Occurring in a context where the humanities are under threat and where neoliberal forces may upset what we understand as fundamental to the academic project, these recent calls for critical engagement with institutional histories and practices suggest that reconsideration of disciplinary knowledges and understandings have become increasingly urgent.


In this conference we seek to take stock of what we do in art history (and related areas of exploration) in light of new calls for transformation and relevance. Some of the questions this might involve are the following:

  • What do we understand by an imperative to “decolonise” the university and/or our discipline/s, and are such agendas feasible and productive?
  • What kinds of topics, themes and areas of exploration are relevant to art history and visual culture studies in South Africa in the 21st century?
  • How have calls for transformation within the academy had a bearing on the perspectives we might adopt to understand art, architecture and visual culture – whether contemporary or historical – from outside the academy?
  • How might a politics of race and anti-imperialism inform not only what we explore but also how we go about the practices of research? In this regard, are there theorists whose work we ought to consider more than we do, and are there different methodologies we ought to employ?
  • If resistance associated with the Rhodes Must Fall campaign focused primarily on a politics of race, should equal attention not also be directed at the implications of gender or class on visual representation?
  • What might be the role of community engagement initiatives within the academic project?
  • How might a decolonising impetus as well as a drive towards promoting inclusivity affect not only curricula but also educational practices?
  • How might such transformative agendas affect curatorial initiatives, public art or the collecting of art?
  • To what extent have other kinds of changes in recent years – such as developments within the digital domain – offered new opportunities to facilitate such critical engagement with art historical practices?


We invite presentations of 20 minutes that focus on particular examples or case studies that can contribute towards addressing the above questions or indeed any others which have a bearing on art history’s relevance and changing roles within the present.


Please send a title of your proposed paper, an abstract of between 300 and 400 words as well as your affiliation and contact details to by 15 February 2016. Please write the words “SAVAH conference proposal” in the subject line of your e-mail.



Postgraduate Scholarships: South African Art and Visual Culture



NRF Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture
University of Johannesburg

The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg invites applications for postgraduate scholarships from those seeking to be part of a dynamic research programme that is specifically focused on South African art and visual culture. The research envisaged by applicants should be on South African themes (or topics pertinent to South Africa) which fall broadly within at least one of the following three rubrics:

1.  Gender and visual culture
2.  Public art
3.  Art and design in the context of community projects

Scholarships are available to graduates with demonstrable capacities and qualifications in Art History, Visual Art or cognate disciplines.

Study at the PhD level must be thesis-based. Scholarships are worth a minimum of R 100 000 per annum and are available for three years of full-time study.

Degrees at the Master’s level may be either entirely dissertation-based or include a studio or practice-based component. Scholarships are worth a minimum of R 70 000 per annum and are available for two years of full-time study.

Scholarships worth R 40 000 will be awarded to candidates with research ability studying full-time for Honours degrees. A recipient may register in any of the departments in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture but will be required to produce his/her research essay on a topic fitting within the above rubrics.

Citizenship is not restricted.

Closing date for applications is November 20 2015.

For an application form or further information, please contact:

Prof Brenda Schmahmann
NRF Research Chair of South African Art and Visual Culture
University of Johannesburg

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, South African Art and Visual Culture. University of Johannesburg, NRF Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture


University of Johannesburg, NRF Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture
Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, South African Art and Visual Culture

Institution Type:    College / University
Location:    South Africa
Position:    Post-Doctoral Fellow
The Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg invites applications for postdoctoral research fellowships from those seeking to be part of a dynamic research programme that is specifically focused on South African art and visual culture. The research envisaged by applicants should be on South African themes (or topics pertinent to South Africa) which fall broadly within at least one of the following three rubrics:
1.  Gender and visual culture
2.  Public art
3.  Art and design in the context of community projects

Candidates must be available for full-time research at the University of Johannesburg for between one and three years.

Candidates must have obtained their doctoral degrees within the last five years. Should the doctoral degree certificate not be available yet, a formal letter from the previous university confirming completion of a doctoral degree will be required.

Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis, and along with considering the applicant’s academic achievements and the value of the envisaged research, particular focus is placed on his/her publication record.
In addition to his/her research, a postdoctoral fellow is required to undertake work which benefits the centre and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. Such work might involve providing research guidance to MA, MTech or Honours students, organising and conducting reading groups or assisting with academic writing, for example.

Citizenship is not restricted.
Fellowships are worth ZAR 200 000 per annum. As the fellowship is principally to enable a PDRF to focus on research, the fellowship holder may not hold full-time salaried employment concurrently with tenure of fellowship, but he/she will be allowed to undertake up to 12 hours per week of additional (salaried) work.
Closing date for applications is November 20 2015.

For an application form or further information, please contact:
Prof Brenda Schmahmann
NRF Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture
University of Johannesburg


SAVAH 3 Marc Quinn Frozen Waves Broken Sublimes Edmond J

London – September 2015 – Inspiring Creativity and Culture.

Veronica C. Wilkinson.

The sight of Sir Joshua Reynold’s statue from one angle seemed to play among the treetops of Ai Weiwei’s Ironwood tree installation in the courtyard of the Royal Academy Galleries conjuring up thoughts of Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and other flights of imagination when I visited the retrospective exhibition in London in September. This exhibition spans disciplines and communicates effectively with the slick punch I have learned to expect from an artist of Weiwei’s status.  There is an interesting symbiosis inherent in his conflict with Chinese government authorities and their role in constraints enforced on his travel and multifaceted status and practice as a human rights activist.  His role facilitating artisanal work that promotes traditional skill and craft serves to underline the necessity of practical economic intervention to emphasize effective artistic communication in visual signals that transcend language and prejudice. His public support on a practical level is evidenced by crowd funded facets of his endeavours.  The exhibition has received mixed reactions from critics with perspectives and impressions as diverse as those of Matthew Collings and Adrian Searle.


My notes from a recent brief visit to London share my impressions from well-publicized exhibitions and events that transmitted respect for historical tradition and cutting edge cosmopolitan, innovative design.  One inspiration on many levels was at Somerset House with an exhibition that runs until 21st October by Marc Quinn of five larger than life steel shells.  Quinn has cleverly incorporated his ideas about the role of the Thames as transport and drainage for the city to its links to the sea – themes that include trade and maritime history, ecological and architectural elements and the history of the monarchy and their choice of designers and influences.  This year’s London Design Festival saw the West wing as a venue to 10 rooms of innovative design and the five floor cantilevered Stamp Stairs of Somerset House’s South Wing a site for Studio Ini’s light installation ‘Spine’.  The South Wing information desk can provide information about tours and exhibitions should one wish to combine a visit to the Courtauld Galleries with further exploration.

The V&A exhibited a small but personally relevant photographic exhibition by Captain Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902), dating from1852-1860.  His photographs of southern India and Burma while stationed there are a credit to his discipline as a trained surveyor and talented photographer.  Intended as part of the India exhibition, I was lucky to see these archival images on display before the main India exhibition commenced this month.  Images of the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, Southern India (before the graffiti which had been added to some of its columns by the time I visited the sacred Hindu pilgrimage site from the port of Tuticorin in 1993) were comforting as were many of the sacred sites and landmarks  I recognized from my travels in Myanmar. (Formerly Burma.)


Simon Schama’s ‘Face of Britain’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery feature five themes that co-incide with a five-part series on the subject broadcast on the BBC.  The BP Portrait Awards included Paul Emsley’s (controversial in some circles) first portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  My tastes prefer more mature features and the painterly skill employed in Irina Karkabi’s ‘Abu Muhammad:Portrait of a Palestinian Worker’ that I found appealing in a gritty, realistic way.

At the British Museum another small but exquisitely documented exhibition where one could not be jolted by the latter day ‘concentration elsewhere’ proles plugged into audio-guides (mentioned on page 92 of HUObrist’s ‘Everything you always wanted to know about Curating*2011) A space away from the ubiquitous cellphone photographers that infest public spaces these days proved a blessing  in an age when people seem to be increasingly desensitized, seduced by every new trick of technology.

Accessibility to culture in London does not cost much.  Free tours of the Royal Academy take place regularly and one I joined included an erudite insight into the sketchbooks and work of architect *Chris Wilkinson’s ‘Thinking Through Drawing‘ exhbition by Kate Goodwin, curator and head of architecture at the Royal Academy.  (*Until 14th February 2016.)

I had not anticipated the London Open House events this year that I stumbled upon after a visit to the Japan Matsuri (festival) in Trafalgar Square where I made my squiggles/marks to participate in the Manga Wall project. (The finished wall can be seen on Youtube.)  Inigo Jones’ Palladian style Banqueting house with its canvas panels painted by Rubens on the ceiling and insights into history was open to the public as I made my way along Whitehall.  A visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices parallel to Downing Street followed where strict security measures were enforced.  The architect George Gilbert Scott appointed in 1858 saw the Foreign Office as “a kind of national palace or drawing room for the nation”; the building’s design, murals, furnishing  and sculpture are well worth  visit.  The Durbar Court built in 1866 by architect M.D. Wyatt is regarded by many as a masterpiece with tiles in the Persian style typical of much of Mughal India. Knowledgable, articulate and friendly volunteer participants in the Open House project provided insights into the history of the functional buildings that have endured over centuries, even providing examples of the Portland stone currently gracing the façade of the Banqueting house.

The following day I joined the queue outside the Houses of Parliament (designed by Victorian architect Charles Barry who collaborated with Augustus Welby Pugin on the final Gothic design) after crossing Westminster Bridge on foot as I did on many days.  Construction started in 1840 but was only completed thirty years later.  Also part of the Open Day programme, visitors were free to explore Westminster Hall with its colourful banner exhibition commemorating an 800 year history since the sealing of the Magna Carta.(‘The Beginnings of that Freedom’  runs until November 2015.)  A fascinating talk by horologist Paul Roberson introduced the world famous clock nicknamed Big Ben (the Elizabeth Tower) including the history and maintenance of the clocks.   Other colourful characters included an actress impersonating women’s rights activist Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and larger than life puppets representing the eight Magna Carta giants of Liberty created by Surrey schoolchildren in 2014.

Notable among the exhibitions I visited this year was the Peter Kennard, Unofficial War Artist retrospective, a display of work in photomontage and other mediums at the Imperial War Museum. Not a show for people who want to escape reality. With series themes like the ‘Stop’ series begun in 1968 to the ‘Decoration’ (2003-4) series reflecting the Invasion of Iraq Kennard’s unrelenting visual documentation of his artistic response to global inhumanity is sobering. In June 2015 Krystyna Sierbien wrote the following words about Kennard in Aesthetica magazine “His work and unwavering adherence to pacificism is more important now than ever.”   The exhibition opened in May 2015 and will run for one year.

Between Democracies 1989-2014: Commemoration and Memory

Between Democracies 1989-2014: Commemoration and Memory

The exhibition features the work of over 50 international and local artists and is a collaborative exhibition between Eastern and Central Europe and South Africa.
It will run from 3-30 September in the OLD FORT at Constitution Hill.





SAVAH Annual Conference 2015: First Call for Papers


Herewith the first call for papers for SAVAH’s 30th Annual International Conference
11-13 September 2015


Download the call for papers here


CIHA Colloquium call for papers: “New Worlds: Frontiers, Inclusion, Utopias”, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 25th to 29th, 2015

Herewith the call for papers for the CIHA colloquium “New Worlds: Frontiers, Inclusion, Utopias” to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 25th to 29th, 2015.  The support of the Getty for students attendance and meeting is particularly to be noticed.

Please find attached the call for papers and the application for PhD students.

Proposals (1000 words) for presentations should be sent to the selection committee in one of the 5 official languages of the CIHA (German, English,French, Italian, Spanish) or Portuguese, with a short summary in English (not exceeding 250 words) and a short curriculum vitae (not exceeding 150 words) before November 17th, 2014.
Publication of Selection Results: December 17, 2014.
Contact for Application for Proposals:

FINAL Call for papers – New Worlds – Rio de Janeiro 2015_KU

Application PhD Scholarships FINAL_KU

2014 AGM Announcement and Agenda

THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN VISUAL ARTS HISTORIANS (SAVAH) will take place on Friday the 4th of July 2014, 11:50-12:50 in CRS auditorium, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

The Agenda:

1.     Welcome, attendance register and apologies

2.     Confirmation of the agenda

3.     Confirmation of the Minutes of the SAVAH AGM of 7 September 2013

4.     Matters arising

5.     President’s report

6.     Treasurer’s report

7.     Membership report

8.     Journal report

9.     Conferences and colloquia

10.  General

11.  Closing

SAVAH Conference 2014 Registration Form


The 2014 SAVAH conference, Images and Media, is just around the corner.Please download the registration form below and get your registrations in and fees paid as soon as possible.

We look forward to seeing you in Bloemfontein.

Click this link to download the PDF registration form: RegistrationFormSAVAH2014-Electronic