WITS ART MUSEUM: Ngezinyawo – Migrant Journeys

WITS ART MUSEUM: Ngezinyawo – Migrant Journeys

Exhibition Dates: 10 April – 20 July 2014

Wits Art Museum is proud to announce the exhibition, Ngezinyawo – Migrant Journeys. The exhibition has been organised by Fiona Rankin-Smith, veteran WAM curator and the force behind important exhibitions such as Figuring Faith: Images of Belief in Africa (2005) and Halakasha, the soccer exhibition mounted to coincide with the 2010 World Cup.

For Ngezinwayo, she has collaborated with Peter Delius, a highly respected history Professor and widely published author at Wits University and Laura Phillips, a researcher at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI). Says Delius, ‘South Africa is internationally infamous as the site of a systematic and pervasive system of racial discrimination. What is less well known though is how uniquely fundamental migrant labour was to the making of modern South Africa.’

The exhibition coincides with the celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa however, the issues surrounding migrants and migrancy that are addressed in this exhibition are part of a nearly 200 year history that continues to profoundly affect our society today. Life circumstances of migrant workers and their families, xenophobic violence and recent upheavals in the mining sector (culminating in the Marikana massacre) are just a few of the headline issues that confront contemporary South African society making this exhibition a ‘must-see’.

This exhibition is rich and diverse bringing together the heritage of many southern African language groups. Works on display include film, photography, contemporary artworks, artefacts from ethnographic collections, archival documents and interviews. In addition, the rich forms of art, dress, dance, music and song performance that migrants crafted to assert and express their humanity feature prominently in the exhibition.

Like the experience of migrants, visitors to the exhibition will participate in a physical journey through the museum space. They will walk the road alongside early migrants to the cities, who sought work on the mines. Photographs and other remarkable objects will provide insights into the living conditions and hardships encountered in hostels. But visitors will also encounter extraordinarily creative everyday objects, music and performances that transcended the daily struggle.

A book entitled A long way home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800 – 2014 is being published to accompany the exhibition and includes essays by leading local and international academics.

WAM opening hours Wednesdays to Sundays 10h00 – 16h00

There are various weekend TALKABOUTS scheduled for this exhibition, these include TALKABOUTS for Families with children (between 6 and 12 years), Adults and Sunday events.

For the TALKABOUTS schedule and for more information contact Jessica Foli at Jessica.Foli@wits.ac.za or call 011 717 1446.

School groups are encouraged to visit the exhibition. Contact Leigh.Blanckenberg@wits.ac.za or 011 717 1378 for more details.

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