Dr Portia Malatjie

Senior Lecturer – Art History and Discourse of Art

Dr. Portia Malatjie is a curator and Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art. She is Adjunct Curator of Africa and African Diaspora at the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational at Tate Modern (London) and holds a PhD in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths University of London (2020). Malatjie was Associate Lecturer of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths (2017 – 2019), and lecturer in History of Art and Visual Cultures at Rhodes University (2012 – 2013). She has published in peer-reviewed journals and exhibition catalogues, including Third Text, the 2018 Berlin Biennale catalogue, the 2019 Venice Biennale’s South African Pavilion catalogue, Artforum, and London-based journal Afterall. Her essay, “Curative Curation: Black Women Curators as Restorative Agents” will appear in the Edinburgh University Press’s The Edinburgh Companion to Curatorial Futures (edited by Bridget Crone and Bassam El Baroni). Her text, “Ritual, Song and Spirituality as Radical Healing Praxes in the Work of Dineo Seshee Bopape” is part of the Whitechapel/MIT Press book, Health. She has presented conference papers at the National Women’s Scholar Association in Atlanta (2018, USA), University of Glasgow (2017, UK), Bayreuth University (2016, Germany) and College Art Association (2014, 2017 and 2023, New York and Chicago). Malatjie was Head Curator of Brundyn+ Gallery, Cape Town (2013 – 2015); Director of the AVA Gallery, Cape Town (2015); and curator at Tiwani Contemporary, London (2017 – 2018). She has served as a board member of the Visual Arts Task Team (South African Department of Visual Cultures), VANSA and IZIKO National Art Gallery. Her curated exhibitions include Batlhaping Ba Re! Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi (2018), Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE (2019, co-curated with Owen Martin) and When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000 (2022, co-curated with Nontobeko Ntombela) at Norval Foundation in Cape Town, as well as Ecologies of Elsewhere (co-curated with Dr. Chandra Frank) at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Centre. She is a 2021 American Council of Learned Society’s African Humanities Fellow, a 2022 NRF Black Academic Advancement Programme fellow, as well as a UCT Emerging Researcher Award 2023 recipient. Her visual cultural and curatorial research explores African conceptions of Blackness through the intersection of sound, spirituality and Black Feminist Thought. 

Orcid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6183-8064





2023     “Birds in Flight: On Black Women’s Fugitivies”, in When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000, Norval Foundation (Forthcoming)

2023     “Mabu a Mahubedu! Spiritual and Sonic Compositions of Blackness: Strategies for a Revolution”, Tate Papers (Forthcoming)

2023     Sonic Archives and the Hyper-audibility of Silence: Black Feminist Spiritualities and the Wig as Recording Device”, in Sonic Cyberfeminisms, Feminist Review (Accepted and Under revision)

2023     “Curative Curation: Black Women Curators and the Burden of History”, (eds) Bridget Crone and Bassam El Baroni, The Edinburgh Guide to Curatorial Futures, University of Edinburgh Press (Awaiting Printing)

2023     “Archival Panic!” in (eds) Sindi-Leigh McBride and Julia Rensing, Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives, Michaelis Galleries, pp. 86 – 99.

2023     “Inside the Lighthouse: Illuminating Care in Lebohang Kganye’s Dipina tsa KganyeTell me what you remember, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, pp. 81 – 91.

2022     The Activist Praxes of Black South African Women Artists”, in Art and Feminism, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, pp. 67 – 71.

2022     “Black Women’s Work and the Laborious Acts of Lerato Shadi”, in Lerato Shadi Monograph, 41 – 49 (Also published into SeTswana and German in the same volume)

2021     Published as “South African Artists Keep Histories Alive Without Bricks and Mortar”, Frieze Magazine (print and online)

2021     “Khanyisile Mawhayi”, exhibition review, Artforum (print and online)

2021     “Of Lost Navels: On Technologies and Wangechi Mutu’s Untitled (from Eve)”, post: notes on art in a global context, Museum of Modern Art, New York, np.

2021     “Whispers in Restful Gestures: On Sethembile Msezane’s Dwala Lam’”, OSUN Center for Human Rights and the Arts, Bard College, np.

2021     “Cassi Namoda: To Live Long is To See Much”, exhibition review, Artforum, April (print and online)

2020     Ritual, Song and Spirituality as Radical Healing Praxes in the Work of Dineo Seshee Bopape” in (eds) Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, Health. Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art & MIT: London, pp. 217 – 220.

2020     ‘Otobong Nkanga: Performance Lecture’, Event Report, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational

2019     “Nangu’mfazomnyama: Race and Technology in Dineo Seshee Bopape’s is i am sky”, in Afterall Journal, Issue 48, pp. 5 – 9.

2019     “A Constellation of Voids: Dineo Seshee Bopape’s Shrine to Nothingness”, in The Stronger We Become: The South African Pavilion. Newcastle: Natal Collective, pp. 53 – 57.

2019     “Firelei Báez”, in Now is the Time: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Collection, Kunstmuseum Wolfburg, pg. 76

2018     “the sound that fish make: poetics of black tradition and the need to ‘do work’”, in Batlhaping Ba Re!, Cape Town: Norval Foundation, pp. 11 – 17.

2018     “Dineo Seshee Bopape”, 2018 Berlin Biennale Catalogue, Berlin, pp. 62.

2018     “Firelei Báez”, 2018 Berlin Biennale Catalogue, Berlin, pp. 70.

2017     the ghostly, disembodied voice (an extract), Adjective, Cape Town, pp. 32 - 33

2017     d.o.a. College Art Association, February

2016     “Maths and Bodies: Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s Polyhedra”, Artthrob, May

2015     “access! space, time and power in video art”. In Boda Boda Lounge Project: From Space (Scope) to Place (Position). Boda Boda Lounge Project; Johannesburg, pp. 12 – 18

2014     “The Shadow Took Shape Exhibition Catalogue Review, Studio Museum in Harlem, Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies, pp. 597 – 598.

2014     “commute with intuitive instinct”. In commute with intuitive instinct. Cape Town: Brundyn+, pp. 7 – 16.

2014     “inhabited: dislocation, alienation and the insurgent middle class” in Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

2013     “Alternative/Experimental Art Spaces in Johannesburg”, Third Text, Vol 27, No 3, June

2013     “it began with a walk”. In it began with a walk. Cape Town: Stevenson, pp. 4 – 15

2012     “A Collaborative Effort”. In The MTN New Contemporaries Award, pp. 7 – 9

2012     “<dis/play>”. In <dis/play>. Johannesburg: Self-published, pp. 12 – 19

2012     “Performing Gendered Identities: Tracey Rose, Mary Sibande and Nandipha Mntambo”. In Alterating Conditions. Berlin: Art and Theory

2011     “Contesting Contemporaneity: Reflections on Nelson Makamo’s Neo-Figurative Subjects”. In CityTales and CountryScapes: An Exhibition by Nelson Makamo. Johannesburg: Self-published, pp. 8 - 13

2011     “Questioning Gender: The Artworks of Mary Sibande, Zanele Muholi and Nandipha Mntambo”, in Jag-Ed 2011, Johannesburg Art Gallery, 24 - 27


Selected Curated Exhibitions


2023                 Ecologies of Elsewhere, Cincinnati Contemporary Art Centre, Cincinnati (Forthcoming: February – August 2023 | Co-curated with Dr. Chandra Frank)

2022 - 2023        When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artist, 1940 - 2000, Norval Foundation, Cape Town (9 February 2022 – 14 January 2023 | Co-curated with Nontobeko Ntombela)

2020                 SOLO, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town

2019                 Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE, Norval Foundation, Cape Town (Co-curated with Owen Martin)

2018 - 2019        Batlhaping Ba Re!: Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi, Norval Foundation, Cape Town (Catalogue)

2018                 notes on spectrality, sorcery and the spirit, Norval Foundation, Cape Town

(Gladys Mgudlandlu, Noria Mabasa, Billie Mandini, Jackson Hlungwane, Cyprian Shilakoe, Gerard Sekoto, Trevor Makhoba, Dumile Feni, Thomas Kgope, Sithembiso Sibisi, Peter Clarke)

2018                 Robel Temesgen, Confluence, Tiwani Contemporary, London

2017                 Manuel Mathieu, Truth to Power, Tiwani Contemporary, London

2017                 Gareth Nyandoro: Stall(s) of Fame, Tiwani Contemporary, London

2015                 suspension of disbelief, Brundyn+, Cape Town

(John Akomfrah; Sophia Carillo; Andrew Huang; Jude Anogwih; Anthea Moys; Thuli Gamedze; Heinrich Minnie)

2014                 untitled (boarding pass), Guga S’thebe, Langa, Cape Town

(Mohau Modisakeng; Jeanette Ehlers and Patricia Kaersenhout; Sethembile Msezane; Ezra Wube)

2014                 commute with intuitive instinct, Brundyn+, Cape Town (Catalogue)

(Nick Cave; Thenjiwe Nkosi; Mocke JV Veuren and Theresa Collins; Bofa da Cara; Gilad Ratman; Michelle Monareng)

2013 – 2014       it began with a walk, The Bioscope, Johannesburg (2013); National Arts Festival, Grahamstown (2014) (Catalogue)

(William Kentridge, Deborah Bell and Robert Hodgins; Dineo Seshee Bopape; Kemang wa Lehulere; Robin Rhode; Moshekwa Langa; Penny Siopis)

2012 – 2013        MTN New Contemporaries Award 2012, Castle of Goodhope, Cape Town (Catalogue)

(MADEYOULOOK; Vaughn Sadie, Brian Mtembu and Humphrey Maleka; Mocke JV Veuren and Faridah Nazier; Khanyisile Mbongwa and Unathi Sigenu)

2012                 <dis/play>, GoetheonMain and Ansteys Building, Johannesburg, 19 July – 4 August (Catalogue)

                        (Community project with artists and Johannesburg inner city kids)

2012                 Random Access, Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, Johannesburg

2011                 Transference, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg

2011                 CityTales and CountryScapes: Nelson Makamo, Museum Africa, Johannesburg (Catalogue)

2010                 Blissful Disturbance, Michaelis Galleries, Cape Town


Conferences and Symposia


2023     Ecologies of Care, College Art Association Annual Conference, New York

2022     Birds in Flight: On Black Women’s Fugitivies, ‘When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000’ Symposium, Norval Foundation, Cape Town

2022     Transtemporal Communion with Mmakgabo Mapula Sebidi and Bonnie Ntshalintshali, Pioneers of Contemporary African Art, institut national d’histoire de l’Art, Paris

2022     Curative Curation: Black Women’s Curatorial Futures, in “Curatorial Care: Feminist and Queer Practices”, College Art Association (online)

2021     Roundtable with Dr. Chandra Frank and Dr. Akanksha Mehta, AFEMS (online)

2021     Moving Against the Grain: On Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s spin and Polyhedra, “Re-orienting worlds, re-asserting Africa”, ACASA (online)

2021     African Sonic and Spiritual Praxes: Strategies for a Revolution, Reclaim, Narratives of African Women Artists Conference, Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) and École du Louvre, Paris (online)

2021     Queering Ancestry: Transgenerational Communion with Oneself, or How to Be your Own Ancestor, Feminist Readings in Motion, Unisa, Pretoria (online)

2019     Phyllis: communing through sonic black feminist spiritualities, Photography as Resistance Conference, University of Brighton, UK

2018     the sorcerer: sound, black feminist temporalities and African moving image, National Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia

2018     the spectre: ghosts as black ontological and temporal critique, Overcoming the Contemporary Impasse Conference, Goldsmiths, University of London

2017     The Fantastical in African Video Art, Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, University of Glasgow, Glasgow

2017     d.o.a, College Art Associations Annual Conference, New York

2016     Quest for Endearment: Hauntings of the Divine Voice in Kiluanji Kia Henda’s ‘Concrete Affection’, Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, Bayreuth University, Germany

2015     Speculative Fiction in Video Art from the Global South, Visual Arts Symposium: Revisions of Art History and Practice, Walter Sisulu University, Emonti

2015     Hypervisibility: A Proposition on Self-Authoring, (Co-presented with Nontobeko Ntombela), Visual Arts Symposium: Revisions of Art History and Practice, Walter Sisulu University, Emonti

2014     Space is the Place, College Art Association Conference, Chicago

2013     Curating Video Art from a Collection, SAVAH, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town

2013     The C Word: Towards a New Curatorial Institutionalism, The Educational Turn in Curating, Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg

2013     Thoughts on Emerging Curatorial Practices, ICI Curatorial Intensive, Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, Johannesburg

2012     Curatorial Discourse: Making Sense of Independent Curatorial Practice, 24 Hour Residency, Sober and

Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art, Johannesburg

2009     Tracey Rose and Berni Searle: Black Feminist Autobiography in South African Art History, Eskia Mphahlele Colloquium, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg



Talks and Panel Discussions


2022     When Rain Clouds Gather as Curatorial Agitation and Discomfort: Hypo-disruptions in Unchanging Institutions”, Pitts Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford

2021     Kicking Dust: Igshaan Adams, panel discussion, Hayward Gallery, London (16 June) (online)

2021     Sethembile Msezane’s Dwala Lam’, OSUN Center for Human Rights and the Arts, Bard College, (14 June) (online)

2021     “Slow Curation: Exhibiting Elders”, Curatorial Connective, A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town (online)

2021     “Mabu a Mahubedu: Spiritual and Sonic Compositions of Blackness”, Tate Modern, London (online)

2020     “Sound, Spirituality and the Technological: Thinking through Continental Expressions of Blackness”, Tate Modern, London (online)

2020     “Cultural Shifts and Transformation”, Institute for Creative Art, Cape Town (Chair) (online)

2020     singing an exhibition into being: towards a slow curation, or, conversations with Mme Mmakgabo, Centre for Curating the Archive, Cape Town (online)

2020     “Singing a Display into Existence”, Tate Modern, London (online)

2020     “Sound, Gender and Race in Contemporary African Art”, Michaelis Welcome Lecture, University of Cape Town

2018     “the third state: transcendental technologies and black feminist spiritualities”, counterfield series 2.1, Goldsmiths University of London

2018     Portia Malatjie in conversation with Helen Sebidi, Norval Foundation, Cape Town

2018     Portia Malatjie in conversation with Yinka Shonibare, Norval Foundation, Cape Town

2018     “Togetherness! Re Batla Monate Fela”, counterfield series 1, Goldsmiths University of London

2017     “Decolonising the Curriculum”, Bloomsbury Festival, London

2017     Portia Malatjie in conversation with Manuel Mathieu, Tiwani Contemporary, London

2015     “Science Fictionalising Africa: The Use of Science Fiction in Contemporary South African Art and

Literature”, Cape Town Art Fair Talks Programme, Cape Town

2015     “Continuing Dialogue: Widening Access to the Contemporary Art Market”, Cape Town Art Fair Talks

Programme, Cape Town

2011     “Ain’t I a Woman: a panel discussion of Tracey Rose’s exhibition, Waiting for God”, Johannesburg Art

Gallery, Johannesburg


Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards


UCT Emerging Researcher Award, 2023

(Shortlisted) HSS Award 2023, Best Creative Collections: Visual Art

NRF Black Academic Advancement Programme Fellow, 2022

National Arts Council, 2022

African Humanities Fellowship, American Council of Learned Society, 2021

Apollo Magazine 40 Under 40 in Africa, 2020

CAA-Getty International Fellowship, 2017

Oppenheimer Memorial Fund, PhD Scholarship, 2016 - 2019

Goldsmiths University of London, Department of Visual Cultures, PhD Scholarship, 2015 – 2018

National Arts Council, PhD Scholarship, 2015

CAA-Getty International Fellowship, 2014

National Arts Council, 2012

Robert Hodgins Award, Wits School of Art, 2009

National Arts Council, Master’s Scholarship, 2009


Teaching and Professional Experience


2020                 Guest Lecturer, SOAS University, London

2018 – 2020       Associate Lecturer, Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths University of London, London

2019 – present    Adjunct Curator, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, Tate Modern, London

2018 – 2022       Adjunct Curator, Norval Foundation, Cape Town

2017 – 2018       Curator, Tiwani Contemporary, London

2015                 Director, AVA Gallery, Cape Town

2013 – 2015       Head Curator, Brundyn+ Gallery, Cape Town, 2013 – 2015

2012 – 2013       Lecturer, Art History and Visual Culture, Rhodes University, Grahamstown


2010                 Curatorial Researcher and Education Programme Coordinator, SPace: Currencies in Contemporary African Art, Museum Africa

2010                 Assistant Curator, Visual Intimacy: Zanele Muholi and Nandipha Mntambo, WALE Festival, University of the Witwatersrand

2007                 Exhibition Assistant, Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg