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Gifts, A commemorative exhibition for 25-years of OSF-SA

  • Open Society SA Temple House, 4th floor Cape Town, 8000 Sudáfrica (map)

In 2018, OSF-SA celebrates 25 years of grant making in South Africa. Since 1993 the Foundation has supported efforts to build a more just society and to realise the democratic promise made in 1994 across the country to the value of R1.1 billion. Today, many of OSF-SA’s programmes focus on defending and advancing Constitutional rights such as the right to justice, equality, protest, social services and equal access to protections of the law.
The art exhibition is curated by the Market Photo Workshop in collaboration with Tšhegofatšo Mabaso and Refilwe Nkomo.

Concept Text
“Every gift has a personality - that of its giver” - Nuruddin Farah, Gifts (195)
When we consider the work that Open Society Foundation has done in South Africa through the provision of financial support for civil society groups and organizations over the past 25 years, with the stated aims of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media, we stand confronted with the work of over 115 grant recipients, communities of people working towards vibrant, open and participatory, accountable and democratic societies.
Gifts explores the politics of aid and grantmaking, notions of gifting as well as the dynamics of power inherent to relationships between the giver and receiver, of who receives such gifts, why and the impact of those decisions. The exhibition focuses on a reflection of the personal through the archival, a disruption of narratives, policies and rules and questions futures which are complicated by individual circumstances and collective and personal notions of memory, the archive and familiarity.
Through sounds and images of hope, joy, pleasure, home and relationship and community making as resistance and protest, Gifts invites us to reflect on the futures of collaborative and humanistic co-existence, agency and access in the dynamic environments and relationships between OSF-SA and its grantees. It also provides a reflective moment of questioning and beginning to ideate and imagine futures we may desire in the context of civil society and social justice. This ideation considers the possibilities of relationships between gift givers and receivers, that shift how each stakeholder participates in the dynamics of power in the creation of narratives and memory and the porous nature of history which always makes it susceptible to change.

About the Project Team

Refilwe Nkomo is a Johannesburg based multidisciplinary artist, curator, educator and writer producing cultural and artistic interventions, programs and installations using various mediums including performance, video, text and movement. She has founded and co-founded numerous organizations and platforms most notably We Are Here (WAH) founded in 2010, a non-profit organization working with men and boys to dismantle gender based violence and recently, Izindlovu Collective which uses arts for social and transformative change. In 2014 she obtained a MA in Arts and Politics from New York University where she developed the critically acclaimed choreopoem, Songs for Khwezi. Her art and research have been presented in Botswana, Brazil, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Italy, South Korea and the USA. She teaches at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and is a partner and director at !Kauru Contemporary Art. In 2017, she participated in the German Development Institute’s Managing Global Governance Academy where she developed the Sustainable Ideas Game, an interactive tool to move from knowledge to action with regards to the Sustainable Development Goals, this was presented at the UN Festival of Action in 2018. She is interested in memory, home, belonging, healing, trauma, affect, sustainable social change and the archive.
Tšhegofatso Mabaso is an artist and curator currently working in Johannesburg. She holds an MA in History of Art (University of the Witwatersrand) and is a co-founder of Rera Letsema, a Johannesburg based research collaborative. In 2016 Mabaso co-curated Situation, a group exhibition at The Point of Order and the Wits Young Artist Award Exhibition, Frequently Asked Questions (2017) alongside Thato Mogotsi. She recently co-curated The Art of Lithography: A Collaborative Expression of LL Editions currently showing at the Wits Art Museum. Mabaso is currently a sessional lecturer in the Wits School of Arts, History of Art Department. 
Bekithemba Ntini has considerable work experience in media, arts and development projects and has used his skills to design and plan training and development programmes, which facilitate approaches to diverse communities’ growth. Ntini’s leadership roles and experiences are well established in artistic, media and development projects as project manager for various organisations and government departments or in assigned consultative roles.
Lemogang Matlhong completed an Intermediate course in photography at the Market Photo Workshop in 2008. Since then she has been involved in various projects in photography, community development and awareness programmes. In 2013, Matlhong curated her first solo exhibition in Sharpeville. She has done volunteer work for the Emfuleni Shelter For Boys for 5 years and also worked in the development of The Flo Foundation in 2016. Matlhong conducts talks and facilitates awareness campaigns on addictive substances and rehabilitation. She is actively involved in rape survivor programmes with Jubilant Hearts.
Sipho Gongxeka was born in 1989, in Soweto, Johannesburg. He studied at the Market Photo Workshop, completing the yearlong Advanced Programme in Photography in 2012.  Gongxeka has published locally and been featured in group exhibitions that includes Identikit, Against Time at the 10th Edition of Bamako Encounters and 154 Contemporary Art Fair in New York.

About the Open Society Foundation for South Africa
OSF-SA works through a unique combination of both grant-making and advocacy. This is supported by strategic research, demonstration projects, convening on niche issues, and knowledge exchange with network and local partners. OSF-SA’s work is supported by two grant-making programmes and a Research and Advocacy Unit.
OSF-SA is part of the Open Society Foundations. The work of OSF-SA focuses on South Africa and the office is based in Cape Town. 
Mindful of South Africa’s past, OSF-SA seeks to promote:

  • Democratic, responsive, accountable, and transparent governance.

  • The strengthening of democracy through informed and appropriate checks and balances on the exercise of public and private power.

  • The free flow of information and freedom of expression for all.

  • Informed and politically active communities.

  • Adherence to the rule of law and universal access to justice.

  • The ability of the poor, disadvantaged, and marginalised to exercise their rights.

In seeking to promote these principles, OSF-SA is guided by the values contained in the South African Constitution of human dignity and non-discrimination, and seeks the achievement of substantive equality and the advancement of human rights. OSF-SA is committed to promoting the values, institutions, and practices of an open, non-racial and non-sexist, democratic civil society. It works for a vigorous and autonomous civil society in which the rule of law and divergent opinions are respected.

About the Market Photo Workshop
For over twenty-seven years, the Market Photo Workshop has played a pivotal role in the training of South Africa’s photographers, ensuring that visual literacy reaches neglected and marginalized parts of our society. World-renowned photographer David Goldblatt contributed vastly to the establishment of Market Photo Workshop in 1988 - 1999. Since then, the Photo Workshop has been an agent of change and representation, informing photographers, visual artists, educators, students and broader communities of trends, issues, and debates in photography and visual culture.
The Market Photo Workshop also runs a number of Public Programmes, which are a series of events involving and directed at professional photographers, visual artists, educators, students as well as the broader public. These Public Programmes seek to inform the trends, practices, methods, and contemporary ways of working and thinking in South African photography practice through exposure to a broad understanding of visual culture as well as a networking platform that encourages critical thinking and engagements.
Showcasing a number of high profile local and international photographers, as well as student and alumni photography work, the Market Photo Workshop has been able to build a strong and consistent audience base around our gallery, ‘The Photo Workshop Gallery’ in Newtown, which is on the same premises as the school. Since 2005, when the gallery was initially launched, the kind of platform it has engendered encourages not only emerging students to experience and enter into professional practice, but has distilled a new type of photographic practice amongst the greater artistic community. Various critical discourses, especially around the role documentary photography, have been stimulated by the multitude of exhibitions that have shown at The Photo Workshop Gallery creating dynamic interactions between students and the greater photography community. In 2017, Market Photo Workshop relocated to its new state of art photography facility at Market Square premises by the Mary Fitzgerald Square.
The Market Photo Workshop is the recipient of The Principal Prince Claus Award 2018.