Pippa Skotnes

Principle Research Officer and Research Associate

Pippa Skotnes was born in Johannesburg. She attended high school at Parktown Convent: the order of the Holy Family. This experience provided a well-spring of ideas, some of which materialised in her continuing artwork, Lamb of God and the Book of iterations (2001-2011), which has been exhibited in South Africa, Europe and the USA. She was educated at the University of Cape Town where she received Master of Fine Art and Doctor of Literature degrees. After she was sued by the South African Library for a copy of her artist’s book about Lucy Lloyd and the |xam, Sound from the thinking strings, she became deeply interested in the nature of the book, producing several volumes inscribed on the bones of horses, leopards and blue cranes. She has also published a number of other books, more recently Claim to the country (Jacana 2007), Unconquerable spirit (Jacana 2008) and Book of iterations (Axeage Press 2009) and exhibited artwork widely. She is currently professor of Fine Art and the director of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town, where she is working on a project about land and language, and holes in the ground.


Selected Books, Recent Publications and Exhibitions

  • Skotnes, P. 2017. Blue is the Colour of Fire. Catalogue essay for Virginia MacKenny exhibition, Barnard Gallery.
  • Skotnes, P. 2017 Axeage Private Press and the Book in the Cave. In Sassen, R. (ed) Booknesses: Artists’ Books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection.
  • 2017 ERF 81: two decades of living on the fringe. (Curated with CCA staff) AVA Gallery, Cape Town, May/June 2017.
  • 2015 Returned to Harfield (Curated with Siona O’Connell). District 6 Museum, November 2015. (accompanied by Symposium entitled Towards and Archive of Freedom organised by Siona O’Connell).
  • Skotnes, P. 2014. From landscape to literature: Specimens in images. In Deacon, J and Skotnes, P. (eds). The Courage of ||kabbo: celebrating the 100th anniversary of Specimens of Bushman Folklore. University of Cape Town Press.
  • Hamilton, C and Skotnes P. 2014. Uncertain Curature: In and out of the Archive. Jacana Press. ISBN 978-1-4314-0629-6 
  • Deacon, J and Skotnes, P. (eds). 2014. The Courage of ||kabbo: celebrating the 100th anniversary of Specimens of Bushman Folklore. University of Cape Town Press. ISBN 978-1-91989-546-8 (456 pages, peer reviewed)
  • Skotnes, P. 2014. The letters pertaining to the Special Mission of Louis Anthing, 1861–1866. Bone book (two giraffe skeletons 200 bones). Produced at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin: Axeage Private Press.
  • 2013 “Breath”: Installation in the Department of Psychology.
  • 2012 “Division of the World”: installation in the Department of Archaeology. 
  • Skotnes, P. 2011. Landscape to Literature (catalogue). Centre for Curating the Archive, University of Cape Town, and exhibition: Michaelis Galleries, August/September. Origins Centre Wits, Feb–April, Kimberley McGregor Museum.
  • Skotnes, P. 2010. Rock Art Made in Translation: Framing Images From and Of the Landscape. Cape Town. Jacana Press, and exhibition.
  • Skotnes, P. 2009. Book of iterations, with Stephen Greenblatt and Isabel Hofmeyr. Cape Town: Axeage Private Press.
  • Skotnes, P. 2008. Unconquerable spirit: George Stow’s history paintings of the San. Johannesburg: Jacana Press and Athens: Ohio University Press. 
  • Skotnes, P. 2007. Claim to the country: The archive of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. Johannesburg: Jacana Press and Athens: Ohio University Press. (390 pages plus DVD)
  • Skotnes, P. (ed). 2005. The Digital Bleek and Lloyd. Annotated index to the Bleek and Lloyd Archive. Volume 1: Watercolours and Drawings. Volume 2: Notebooks. Cape Town: Llarec. 
  • Skotnes, P., van Embden, G, Langerman, G. 2004. Curiosity CLXXV: A Paper Cabinet. Curating collections at the University of Cape Town. Cape Town: Llarec Series in Visual History.
  • Skotnes, P. 1996. Miscast: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen. Cape Town: UCT Press and Ohio.


Current Projects

  • Museum Collaborations, an pbject studies collaborative project with Iziko Musuems of Cape Town.
  • From Rome to Rhino, a project about the displacement and display of African animals.
  • This Day in Court, a project about one day in 1869 in the Cape Town Supreme Court where several separate murders trial took place, and the individual stories behind them.
  • Story and Place, story-telling project that presents person histories of displacement and persistence in the farmlands of the Western and Northern Cape.


Digital Links