Khanyisile Mbongwa // “Blueprint” // May-June 2018


When there Is Nowhere to go, Where is Home?

Blueprint is conceptualized as a curatorial research project that engages with historical legacies and future possibilities of public space, asking questions: What is public space? Who is the public? How do we create public space?

Place/Space making is about identity formation, and as Robert Parks elaborates “ man’s most consistent and on the whole, his most successful attempt is to remake the world he lives in more after his heart’s desire. As such, in making the city man has remade himself.” In this sense, to speak about space (place) is to speak about history making. And as Karl Marx would articulate “men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

The aim of Blueprint, is to draw intersecting lines across continents as we study human flow both as a historic and contemporary happening in how public space can be imagined and created. We use music and performance art as public interventions to engage with public space as an archive of memory, sound and movement. Through these mediums, we examine and explore the emotional response of the physical body as it navigates complex and nuanced ideas of Self and Other, immigrant and nationhood, colonial and decolonial.

We draw on love as a strategy and as a political space to foster new imaginaries, global identities and diasporic identities that exist in contested and precarious bodies that have sailed through the ocean either as slaves or immigrants. We thus return to our questions: What is public space? Who is the public? How do we create public space?

Download the BLUEPRINT publication here.




During the course of the project we will explore African sounds and music, and its influences on the contemporary rhythms of the everyday. Blueprint draws from the archive of the International Library of African Music at Rhodes University, but is shaped by local artists and the specifics of the sites and public places with which they engage.

Save the dates:

framing events:

∙ Wednesday, May 16th, 7-11pm, Dinner Party (Welcome night)

∙ Sunday, May 27th, noon-4pm, Brunch

∙ Saturday, June 16th: 4-8pm, curated presentation during AIC (Art Initiatives Cologne)

∙ Wednesday, June 27th: 7-11pm, Dinner Party (Farewell night)

public interventions:

Saturday, June 23rd, 5-9pm

Khanyisile Mbongwa (*1984, Gugulethu) is a Cape Town-based artist and curator. Focusing on performance-based practice, her work engages with the re-imagining of psychological and physical spaces – using photomontage, sound and video. She is currently doing her Masters in Interdisciplinary Art, public art and public sphere at the Institute of Creative Art/University of Cape Town (UCT) and researches on iRhanga (township alleyways) as public spaces that provide another entry or exit point for thinking about blackness and self. Mbongwa has a strong passion for youth development, which has formed a focus in her work.

In 2006, Khanyisile Mbongwa was amongst the founding members of a robust and innovative arts collective called Gugulective. She also initiated the Mentorship Programme ‘KM Studio’ in which she invites creative individuals to co-use her studio and for collaboration. As an on-going project, KM Studio engages with art as a creatively intellectual process and the socio-economic and political conditions of race, gender, sexuality and geographical location.

Engaged in various curatorial and artistic projects, she is the curator of Puncture Points and has participated in Life Art Festival since 2014. In 2016 she curated ‘What Will We Tell Freedom?’, a public intervention performances kwaLanga as part of Africa Centre’s ‘Infecting The City’. Her performative installation piece ‘Umnikelo Oshisiwe’ was part of the 2016 Afrika Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil and BONE19Festival in Bern, Switzerland. In 2014 she won the ‘Africa Centre – Artist In Residency Laureate’ and took up residency at JIWAR in Spain in 2015. In 2015 she also curated ‘Twenty Journey’, a photographic exhibition exploring South Africa 20years into its democracy. Mbongwa was the Special Guest at Liste Art Fair Basel 2015, where she curated a booth with the works of South African artists Buhlebezwe Siwani, Astrid Gebhardt and Breeze Yoko. As part of Cape Town Art Week, Mbongwa curated a collaborative performance piece titled ‘My Body Is Not An Apology’ with Buhlebezwe Siwani and Thando Doni. In 2013, she curated ‘Demonstrations: Performing Being Black’ at Brundyn+ Gallery, a two part exhibition that focused on photography, installation pieces and performances in township public spaces. In 2012, together with the late Unathi Sigenu, she won the MTN New Contemporary Artist Award. In 2010 she had a solo experimental exhibition at Blank Project Space entitled ‘Ndizakuyivula Ibhayibile’. Mbongwa was a board member of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA) in 2008 and is the former Executive Director for Handspring Puppetry Trust.

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