In this public talk, Dr Kim Gurney will share the innovative working principles that independent art spaces in some fast-changing cities in Africa have in common as they navigate conditions of uncertainty and accelerated flux. These key principles are at the heart of her latest book, ‘Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa’ (Motto, 2022), produced from research conducted whilst affiliated to UCT’s African Centre for Cities (ACC).

Kim made correlations between curatorial strategies and everyday urban innovations to surface her findings. The spaces featured in the book span five different countries: GoDown Art Centre (Nairobi, Kenya), ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge (Accra, Ghana), Townhouse Gallery (Cairo, Egypt), Zoma Museum (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), and Nafasi Art Space (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania). They all self-assembled infrastructures of various kinds through refusals and reimaginations, with implications for new modes of institution-building and thinking about city futures.

Vyjayanthi Rao, senior editor of the journal Public Culture, says this “beautifully crafted” book represents a new generation of scholarship, bringing together the fields of urban studies and art history, to attend to the under-theorized role of creative practice as a form of sociality. “Kim Gurney … shows how Panya Routes or ‘backroad infrastructures’ that define Southern cities are neither temporary nor epiphenomenal but rather major forms for the formation of collective solidarities. A much-needed volume, it explores the emergence of new institutions as themselves a genre of art. This book is a tour de force of creative research and writing and should inform and serve the next generation of urban scholars with a new vision of how contemporary forms of art making and creative performance have become an integral part of the infrastructure of social and political life in the twenty-first century.”

This lunchtime lecture is a collaboration between ACC and Michaelis School of Fine Art, and is open to the public. Kim is a former Research Associate at ACC and Michaelis alumnus.


Venue: Michaelis Lecture Theatre, Michaelis Building

Date: Thursday 31 August 2023

Time: 13h00-14h00



More about the book:  And here: 


Kim Gurney (PhD) is a researcher, writer and visual artist, currently based at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. She is the author of three books that are emblematic of her interdisciplinary work: Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa (Motto, 2022), August House is Dead, Long Live August House! The Story of

a Johannesburg Atelier (Fourthwall, 2017), & The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her fourth, Flipside: The Inadvertent Archive (iwalewabooks), is in production.