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Academic Staff

Nomusa Makhubu

Lecturer - Art History and Visual Culture

+27 (0)21 650 7130




Nomusa Makhubu (PhD, PGDHE, Rhodes University) is an art historian and artist. She was a recipient of the ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award (2006) and the Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy (2014). Makhubu is a member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). She is an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS-AHP) fellow, an Abe Bailey fellow, and was a research fellow of the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) in Nigeria, Lagos. Makhubu previously served as a committee member of the National Arts Festival. She was a recipient of the CAA-Getty travel award in 2014. Makhubu co-edited a Third Text Special Issue: ‘The Art of Change’ (2013). She co-curated, with Nkule Mabaso, the international exhibition, Fantastic, in 2015 which draws inspiration from writers such as Ben Okri and brings together video art and photographs by artists based in various countries on the African continent. Her current research focuses on African popular culture, photography, interventionism, performance art and socially engaged art.

Solo Exhibitions

  • Intertwined 2005 – 2015, University Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2016
  • Lagosian: 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)
  • DreamSweepers, Artspace, Johannesburg, 2010
  • Iso Eliphandliwe, Alliance Française, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Mbabane (Swaziland), Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Lesotho, 2008

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
  • 4th Dali International Photography Exhibition, Dali: China, 2012
  • Re-Sampled, Absa Gallery: Johannesburg, 2012 (catalogue)
  • Water, Performance in collaboration with Injairu Kulundu, Grahamstown, 2011
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Look At Me, Artists for Humanity: Women Against Child Abuse Print Project, Billboard: Raglan Road, Grahamstown, 2006-2008 (catalogue)


Scholarships, Fellowships and Prizes:

  • Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) Fellowship, Lagos, Nigeria, 2010
  • 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
  • Purvis Prize for Academic Achievement in Fine Art, Rhodes University, 2007

Academic Prizes

  • 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
  • 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


Publications: Journals (Peer reviewed)

  • “Screening the Fantastic – Citizenship and Postcolonial Theoconomies in African Video-Film and Photography,” African Identities, vol. 15, 2017, forthcoming
  • “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, 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

Essays in books

  • “Charting Moral Geographies: Nollywood and the Concept of Nation” (chapter), in Nigerian Film Tradition Culture and the Idea Of The Nation: Nollywood and National Narration. Ed. James Tar Tsaaior. London: Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd, pp. 241-256
  • “Thoughts on the First-Wave of Contemporary Performance Art in South Africa” in 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


Conferences: Conference Papers and Public Talks

  • “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
  • “The Power and Terror of the Enactment of Collective Memory in Performative Photography”, Semiha Es Sympoium for Women Photographers, Istanbul, Turkey, 26-28 November 2013
  • “The City Infected: The Spatial Politics of Public Performance in Cape Town”, 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 Talk on Retinal Shift, an exhibition by Mikhael Subotzky: Standard Bank Young Artist, Standard Gallery, Settlers Monument, Grahamstown, July 2012
  • Public Talk, 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
  • The “Old Dutch” in Phokela: Interpretations of ‘African Visual Theory’ in a ‘Global Art History’(Conference Proceedings), South African Visual Art Historians (SAVAH), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 2009
  • Public Talk (exhibition opening speech): “Those in the Shadows: Nicholas Hlobo’s Umtshotsho”, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth, 2009
  • A “Pre-Black” Perspective in “Post-Black” Performance and Video Art, South African Visual Art Historians (SAVAH) conference, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, 2008