KHWEZI GULE

Cul­tural ac­tivist. Avid trav­eller. Cu­ra­tor

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Focus - COM­PILED BY GARRETH VAN NIEK­ERK PHO­TO­GRAPHS OLIVER HOFF­MANN, GRAEME WYL­LIE, SUP­PLIED

I am the chief cu­ra­tor of the Jo­han­nes­burg Art Gallery (JAG), a mu­seum of mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art. Since be­ing ap­pointed

as the cu­ra­tor at JAG, I have over­seen the stag­ing of three ex­hi­bi­tions and pub­lic pro­grammes, forged new part­ner­ships for the gallery, re-es­tab­lished con­tact and co­op­er­a­tion with our sur­round­ing com­mu­nity in Jou­bert Park and gal­vanised the staff to work to­wards a com­mon vi­sion.

I like what I do be­cause it is a tre­men­dous op­por­tu­nity to re­de­fine what an African should be and look like, and be­cause art gives me ac­cess to other worlds: the world of imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity and the world of ideas. The worst part of my job is hav­ing to leave in the af­ter­noon to go home. Art in

South Africa has be­come more dy­namic, with more artists pop­ping onto the scene as quickly as oth­ers are opt­ing out. So­cial

me­dia has made art more ac­ces­si­ble to the wider pub­lic, but it is also harder to dis­cern what will stand the test of time. The young artists I’m watch­ing at the mo­ment are – all of them. My hid­den gems in the in­ner city are the Jou­bert Park Green­house Project (GHP – on our doorstep), the House of Move­ments (where the NGO Khanya Col­lege is based), the Windy­brow Arts Cen­tre and the Drill Hall. The best view in South Africa is right out­side my of­fice win­dow. The most ex­cit­ing

thing about Joburg is that it is not only about sur­vival, but means wit­ness­ing peo­ple from all over the world fash­ion­ing a new way of life. When I’m tired I go to the Afrikan Free­dom Sta­tion in West­dene or the Rov­ing Bantu Kitchen in Brix­ton, or I visit African Flavour Books in Braam­fontein. My kitchen

cup­board sta­ples are ex­tra-hot masala, cumin, ground black pep­per, rose­mary, gar­lic and gin­ger. The best ad­vice I have ever re­ceived was from artist Robin Rhode, who said, ‘Take care of art and art will take care of you’. Work­ing in the arts has taught me pa­tience – you have to take a step back from the for­est to see the trees. I al­ways travel with a novel. The places I’ve been to that I’ll never for­get are Fez in Morocco, Val­paraíso in Chile and Dakar in Sene­gal. From my trips I al­ways bring back a lo­cally made scarf or shawl for my mother. My next dream hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion is Lal­i­bela, Ethiopia. If money were no ob­ject, I’d treat my­self to the en­tire Brenda Fassie song­book. I’m read­ing Na­tive Life in South Africa: Be­fore and Since the Euro­pean War and the Boer Re­bel­lion by Sol Plaatje and lis­ten­ing to Harari, the ’70s funk band of which Sipho ‘Hot­stix’ Mabuse was a mem­ber. If I could change one thing about SA it would be the legacy of spa­tial seg­re­ga­tion and dis­pos­ses­sion that en­sures the con­tin­ued ex­is­tence of ghet­tos. When I was younger, I used to think that the cow­boys were the good guys and the ‘In­di­ans’ were the bad guys… un­til I re­alised, as the AfricanAmer­i­can writer James Bald­win said, the In­di­ans were me! khwezigule

“Ar­chi­tec­ture is the thought­ful mak­ing of space.”

CEN­TURY - TERRA GRI­GIO. 800mm x 800mm. Nat­u­ral & Grip Sur­face. Louis Kahn Amer­i­can Ar­chi­tect

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