Associate Professor Nomusa Makhubu

Associate Professor - Art History and Visual Culture

Nomusa Makhubu works broadly in art interventionism, popular culture, live art and social engagement in African visual art. She was the recipient of the ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award in 2006 and the Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy in 2014. She received the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) African Humanities Program fellowship award and was selected to be an African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential fellow in 2016. In 2017, she was also a UCT-Harvard Mandela fellow at the Hutchins Centre for African and African American Research, Harvard University. In that same year, she was the First Runner Up for the Department of Science and Technology (DST) Women in Science Awards. Recognising the need for broader creative mentorship, collaborative practice and socially responsive arts, she started the Creative Knowledge Resources project. She co-edited a Third Text Special Issue: ‘The Art of Change’ (2013) and later co-curated with Nkule Mabaso the international exhibition, Fantastic, in 2015 and The stronger we become in 2019 at the 58th Venice Biennale in Italy. Makhubu is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).

National Research Foundation Rating: Y1

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Peer-reviewed (accredited) Journal Articles

  • “Screening the Fantastic – Citizenship and Postcolonial Theoconomies in African Video-Film and Photography,” African Identities, vol. 15: 1-20, 2017
  • “This House Is Not for Sale: Nollywood’s Spatial Politics and Concepts of ‘Home’ in Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Art,” African Arts, vol. 49 (4): 58-69, 2016
  • “Interpreting the Fantastic: Video-film as Intervention,” Journal of African Cultural Studies, Vol. 28 (3): 299-312, 2016
  • Clare Counihan, “Interview with Nomusa Makhubu,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 36(2): 307-319, 2016
  •  “Ephemeral Democracies: Interrogating Commonality in South Africa,” Third Text Special Issue: “The Art of Change in South Africa”, number 122, vol. 27(3): 299-302, 425-428, guest editors: Nomusa Makhubu and Ruth Simbao, May 2013
  • “Politics of the Strange: Re-visiting Pieter Hugo’s Nollywood,” African Arts, 46 (1): 14-25, 2013
  • “Race and the anxieties of cultural obscurity: Meditations on blackness in South African performance and video art,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(1): 41-53, 2013
  • “The Peculiar Language of Medium,” Art South Africa, 10 (4): 38-43, 2012
  • “Violence and the Cultural Logics of Pain: Representations of Sexuality in the Work of Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi,” Critical Arts, 26(4): 504-524, 2012

Book Chapters

  •  “Charting Moral Geographies: Nollywood and the Concept of Nation” (chapter), in In Re/Negotiating  Nationhood  through  the  Filmic  Tradition:  Nollywood  and  the  Logic  of Language,  Culture  and  Narrativity. Ed. James Tar Tsaaior. Newcastle Upon Tyne:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • “Ubuhlalu – The Science of Ordinary Art” in Thompson, B., Beadwork in South African Visual Culture, Book published by Arts and Ubuntu Trust

Select Book Reviews in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Book Review: “Global Nollywood: the transnational dimensions of an African video film industry,” Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 33 (3): 426-429, 2015
  • Book Review: “Nollywood,” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Special Issue: South African Photography: A Special Double Issue, 15 (2-3): 416-419, 2014
  • Book Review: “Nigerian Television – 50 Years of Television in Africa: Review”, Equid Novi: African Journalism Studies, 32 (2): 141-143, 2011
  • Exhibition Review: “Wonderland: Review,” Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award, Art South Africa, 7 (1):99, 2008


  • “Creating Our Own Spaces to Speak,” ACASA symposium, Accra, Ghana, August 2017
  • “Precarious Modernities,” Multiple Modernisms: Twentieth-Century Artistic Modernisms in Global Perspective symposium, Johannesburg and Cape Town, 12-17 June 2016
  • “Performance Art in South Africa,” Stellenbosch University lecture, English Department, 4 June 2015
  • “Senses of Space in Rembrandt’s Paintings”, Iziko Museums, Friends of the Michaelis Collection lecture, TH Barry Lecture Theatre, Tuesday 17 March 2015
  • “Finding the ‘New’: Art Historical Methodology and the Fetishisation of Place”, CAA-Getty symposium, New York, USA, 9 February 2015
  • Panelist: Protest and Communication: Resistance Art Then and Now with speakers Matthew Blackman, Sue Williamson and Justin Davy, Cape Town Art Fair Talks Programme, Waterfront, Cape Town, 28 February 2015
  • Photography Lecture, Erdmann Contemporary, Furman University students, North Carolina, 26 February 2015
  • “On Performative Photography”, Guest Lecture (Skype), International Studies Department, Macalester College, Minnesota, USA invited by Prof Zeynep Gursel, 7 October 2014
  • “Re-thinking Performative Photography in Contemporary South Africa”, Cape Town Month of Photography, Labia Theatre, 1 October 2014
  • “Nollywood!” A Public talk at Brundyn + Gallery, 2014
  • “The Criminalisation of the Patriarchy: Regarding the Occult Imaginary in Nigerian Video-Film”, CrossRoads conference, ACS, Tampere, Finland, 1-4 July 2014
  •  “The City Infected: The Spatial Politics of Public Performance in Cape Town”, accepted for presentation at the 56th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA) in Baltimore, USA, 21-24 November 2013   
  • “‘I Will Not Say Discourse’: The Venom in Restless Text”, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, AICA Congress July 2012
  • Public lecture on Retinal Shift, an exhibition by Mikhael Subotzky: Standard Bank Young Artist, Standard Gallery, Settlers Monument, Grahamstown, July 2012
  • Public lecture, African Photography and Activism: Cedrick Nunn’s Call and Response, Settlers Monument, Grahamstown, July 2012
  • “Ifa Dynamics in Nollywood: Compositions of Memory in the Yoruba Cosmological Strata”, LAMAC&S, University of Ottawa, Canada, 2011
  • “A Question of Aesthetics? Nollywood and the Cultural Logics of Value”, Pan African University, Lagos, Nigeria, 2011
  • “Nollywood Jesters and the Politics of Extralocality”, ACASA Symposium, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, 2011
  • “Disentangling Strands of Magic Realism: Understanding Nollywood Animation”, presented at Dialogues: A Postgraduate Symposium, Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg, 2010
  • “Notions of the Foreign in Pieter Hugo’s Nollywood”, Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), Crossroads Conference, Hong Kong, 2010

Keynote Addresses

  • “Changing the African City After Our Heart’s Desire”, Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) Live Art Festival, 26 February 2017
  • “The Power and Terror of the Enactment of Collective Memory in Performative Photography”, Semiha Es Symposium for Women Photographers, Istanbul, Turkey, 26-28 November 2013

Scholarships and Fellowships

  • Harvard-UCT Mandela Fellowship 2017/18
  • Institute of Creative Arts Writing Fellow 2017
  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), African Humanities Program, 2015/16 Fellow
  • African Studies Association Presidential Fellow, 2016 (selected from ACLS African Humanities Program Fellowship), hosted by Rutgers University, Princeton University and Syracuse University
  • Inaugurated as a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) in 2016
  • CAA-Getty International Fellowship, travel to CAA conference and Williamstown, Massachusetts, 2014
  • Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) Fellowship, Lagos, Nigeria, 2010 (open for application to scholars internationally)
  • Abe Bailey Fellowship, United Kingdom, 2008 (selected on a national basis)
  • Würth Scholarship for M.A. (Art History), Rhodes University, 2007-2008
  • Masters Scholarship, Rhodes University, 2007

Academic Prizes

  • Department of Science and Technology (DST), Women in Science Awards, First Runner-Up
  • Purvis Prize for Academic Achievement in Fine Art, Rhodes University, 2007

Exhibition Prizes, Nominations and Artist Residencies:

  • Fresnoy Prize, received at the Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal, 2014
  • Mail and Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2013
  • Nomination: Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, 2012
  • Business and Art South Africa (BASA) Presenting Artist, Business Day BASA Awards, Johannesburg, 2008
  • Woman of the Year Award in the “Art” category – Rhodes Amnesty International, 2006
  • Winner of ABSA L’Atelier, Gerard Sekoto Prize, three-month residency at Internationale Cite Des Arts, Paris: France, 2006
  • Vaal Show Abstract Work Exhibition, Third Prize, Vaal Triangle, 1998

Artwork is represented in the following national and international collections

  • Serenella and David Ciclitira, Private Collection, London
  • The Hood Museum of African Art, Permanent Collection, Dartmouth College, United States
  • North-West University Gallery, Permanent Collection, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Rand Merchant Bank, Corporate Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • University of South Africa Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Telkom South Africa, Corporate Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Exhibitions/ Installations

Solo Exhibitions

  • Intertwined 2005 – 2015, University Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2016
  • Lagosian (in progress): photographic essay based on Lagos, proposed for exhibition (A section of this photographic essay was published in Transition (50th Anniversary edition), a magazine of the W.E.B DuBois Institute at Harvard University 2011, Issue 106)
  • START  Exhibition, Saatchi gallery, London, UK. Solo show curated by Heidi Erdmann, 10-13 September 2015
  • DreamSweepers, Artspace: Johannesburg, 2010
  • Iso Eliphandliwe, Alliance Française, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Mbabane (Swaziland), Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Lesotho, 2008

Curated Exhibition

  • Fantastic (curated by Nomusa Makhubu and Nkule Mabaso). International Curated Exhibition entitled 'Fantastic' featuring Jelili Atiku (Nigeria), Dineo Bopape (South Africa), Kudzanai Chiurai (Zimbabwe), Andrew Esiebo (Nigeria), Milumbe Haimbe (Zambia), Aida Muluneh (Ethiopia), Terence Nance (USA), Tracey Rose (South Africa), Zina Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria) and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (Botswana). Michaelis Galleries, 8 September 2015 -9 October 2015

Responsibilities: Concept, selection of artworks, contextualization of artworks, writing, and curating. The exhibition led to the colloquium that took place on the 16th of September 2015 and a catalogue. The Colloquium speakers were Gabeba Baderoon (Penn State University), Harry Garuba (UCT), Anne-Maria Makhulu (Duke University), Imraan Coovadia (UCT), Chaired by Nomusa Makhubu

Group Exhibitions

  • International Young Photographers Exhibition Daegu, South Korea, 2016
  • AFiRIperFOMA Biennale Biennale Foundation, Lagos Nigeria, 2015
  • Dak’Art 2004 – 2014, Manoir, Martigny, Switzerland, 2016
  • Trek: Following Journeys, SMAC gallery, Cape Town, to be opened 9 May, 2015
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Biennale, 2014-2015
  • Am I Not a Man and a Brother? Am I Not a Woman and a Sister? Group exhibition, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, USA 2013 and Archer Gallery, Clark College, Washington 2015
  • Blood, Sweat and Tears, ABSA Art Gallery, Johannesburg, 2014
  • Twenty: Contemporary South African Art, The Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA, 2014
  • Dak’Art Biennale, Senegal, 2014
  • Actuality & Illusions, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town 2014
  • Co-Existence, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, 2014
  • Silk and Steel, Galerie NOKO, Port Elizabeth, 2014
  • A Fair Day’s Wage for A Fair Day’s Work, Artists for Humanity: Art of Human Rights Print Project, 2014
  • Crossing the Divide, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town 2013
  • Cape Town Art Fair Cape Town 2013
  • Dali International Photography Exhibition, Dali, China 2012
  • Re-Sampled, Absa Gallery: Johannesburg, 2012 (catalogue)
  • No More Bad Girls, Kunsthalle Exnergasse: Vienna, 2010 (catalogue)
  • Photoquai, Musee du Quai Branly: Paris, 2009 (catalogue)
  • Umahluko, Cape ’09: Cape Town, 2009
  • The World Needs Us, Centro Luigi di Sarro: Rome, 2009,
  • Hollwood, Nollywood, Bollywood, ArtSpace: Johannesburg, 2008
  • I Love Jozi, Gallery Béatrice Binoche: Reunion Island, 2008
  • Construct, Unisa Gallery: Pretoria, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum: Port Elizabeth and Settlers Monument: Grahamstown, 2008
  • Four Tales, Gallery MOMO: Johannesburg, 2008
  • Glimpse, Bean Bag Bohemia: Durban, 2008
  • 3 Years, ABSA Gallery: Johannesburg, 2008
  • Art From The Ground Up, Hanover and Kuoppio,2007 - 2011
  • Spier Contemporary, Spier: Cape Town, Johannesburg Art Gallery: Johannesburg, 2007 (catalogue)
  • GlamourAid, Johannesburg, 2007
  • Jeune Creation, Galerie Jeune Creation : Paris, 2007 (catalogue)
  • Contemporary Visions Of Southern Africa Exhibition, Pretoria Museum: Pretoria, 2007
  • Sasol New Signatures, Pretoria Art Museum: Pretoria, 2007
  • Faces to Face, Joint exhibition with Javier Maltos Galves, Internationale Cite Des Arts: Paris, 2007
  • Positive, Sun International/ Tapologo Aids Hospice Exhibition: Johannesburg, 2006 (catalogue)
  • Look At Me, Artists for Humanity: Women Against Child Abuse Print Project, Billboard: Raglan Road, Grahamstown, 2006-2008 (catalogue)
  • Brett Kebble Art Awards Exhibition, Johannesburg, 2005
  • Eastern Cape Artists Exhibition: Paperworks, National Arts Festival Grahamstown, 2005 (catalogue)

Catalogue Essays

  • “Homing In: Paradoxes of the City,” in Valeria Geselev and Naz Saldulker, White Curtains, Hansa Print, 2016, Pp. 76-80, ISBN: 978-0-620-73014-3
  • “Berni Searle,” essay commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, 2015
  • “Beyond Barriers,” essay in the Michaelis graduate exhibition catalogue, 2015
  • “Fantastic Defiance,” essay in Fantastic catalogue, Pp. 9-24, ISBN 978-0-620-68228-2, 2015
  • “Amahathanga neNgcindezelo,” short essay in 120 Days of Sodom. Manfred Zylla, the book will be launched 25 June 2015
  • “Visual Narratives of Dispossession in Video Art” in Commute with Intuitive Instinct, curated by Portia Malatjie, Cape Town: Hansa Print, 2014
  • “Thoughts on the First-Wave of Contemporary Performance Art in South Africa” Alterating Conditions, Marion Claudia Stemberger (Ed.), Johannesburg: Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, 2012, (ISBN: 978-3-200-02683-4)
  • “Spaces of Contention and Confrontation: The Geography of Truth in Zak Benjamin’s Paintings”, Zak Benjamin, Bloemfontein: Oliewenhuis Museum, 2011