A Guide to (the expanded) First Thursdays JHB: 5 November 2015 + Some Insights from the Organisers

It’s First Thursdays time again, and this month’s Joburg edition comes bigger and more arty than ever with the Rosebank art strip added to the map. This expanded programme will create two separate creative nodes that Gareth Pearsen, one part of the Thursdays founders, hopes will compel people who might be attracted to one area to venture and explore the other. “It would be great to see this as a catalyst for people to explore different areas – for example, for someone who might lean more towards Rosebank to venture out to Braamfontein,” he says. 

First Thursday’s Joburg evolution has felt slow at times, but Gareth reminds us that in Cape Town’s first year the concept didn’t grow very quickly either. “It took until the following Summer to boom, so we expect the same in Johannesburg,” he explains. The new expanded programme is also intended to boost First Thursday’s Jozi footprint: “the galleries in Rosebank are a huge opportunity that was being missed,” Gareth continues, “there is a lot of cultural capital there that we’d like to open up to more people”. This will create a more diverse experience and make First Thursdays a more interesting event for people to attend each month. At the same time though, Gareth says that the Braamfontein map, with it’s existing art galleries and cultural attractions, also has a lot of potential to grow. “As the audience grows”, he explains, “we start to see more people using [First Thursdays] as a platform. Obviously we see brands latching on to it, which we don’t always like, but it’s when cultural institutions start to use it, or even art students organising a pop-up exhibition – that sort of thing – that’s what we want to encourage and start to nurture a bit more in Joburg”. 

Gareth’s highlights for tonight’s First Thursday include the opening of Additions and Alterations by Joburg-based architecture firm Local Studio at Fourthwall Books. Young, Gifted and Black at Goodman Gallery. The conversation between Blessing Ngobeni and Percy Mabandu at Gallery MOMO around 7pm, and Dumile Feni’s 157-metre long scroll You wouldn’t know God if he spat in your eye exhibited digitally at Wits Art Museum.

So with that said, here’s our guide to this month’s First Thursdays: 

Starting in Rosebank:

Stop 1: Goodman Gallery | 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood 


Young, Gifted and Black, curated by American conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas that explores what lies between the American Civil Rights Movement and our #BlackLivesMatter. “All over the world we cry out more fervently that our lives matter, even as evidence mounts supposedly to the contrary.” More info on the gallery website.

Stop 2: Priest Espressobar | Shop 1, Chester Court, 142 Jan Smuts Ave


Priest Espressobar combines art, good coffee and working space. Not your average ‘white cube’ gallery – listen to some cool live tunes and sip on a Cortado and enjoy Bianca Brand’s new solo illustration show. More info on the event Facebook page.

Stop 3: David Krut | 151 Jan Smuts Avenue


There are three events happening tonight at stop 3: Two Social Pacifiers ጡጦ*, an exhibition by visiting Ethiopian artist Endale Desalegn. This follows his second residency with the study, and this body of work is a profound meditation on the ways we perceive everyday objects in light of the social structures that dictate how we relate to the world. The second event is an exhibition entitled13 by St.John Fuller. Using multiple images of his subjects as his source material, St.John uses a camera that he has built himself to re-shoot the subject matter with chance playing a large roll in the outcome. The third exhibition is Cumulus by Robyn Penn. This exhibition of new prints is a continuation and development of the themes and formal concerns of her Cloud oeuvre. 

[Optional stop if only doing the Rosebank node]

Stop 4: Gallery MOMO | 52 7th Avenue, Parktown North 


Listen to a talk with Gallery MOMO artist, Blessing Ngobeni, and Award winning art writer, Percy Mabandu, on the artist’s oeuvre as well as his current artistic endeavours. Plus see the current show of works by Ayana V. Jackson, Mary Sibande, Sergio Santimano and Joel Mpah Dooh. More info on the gallery Facebook page.

Continuing/Starting in Braamfontein:

Stop 5: The Point of Order | Cnr Bertha and Stiemans Streets (Noswal Hall)


title: is a group exhibition collectively curated by postgraduate students in History of Art and Heritage studies at Wits University. The open-endedness of title: not only creates a sense of inclusivity for each of the eleven curatorial voices within the group, but allows for fluid connections and interpretations to be made by the viewer. title: is a collection of archival material, artworks, ephemera, audience participation and historical narratives that attempts to respond to, and interrogate, current curatorial and exhibition practices. More info on the event Facebook page

Stop 6: Wits Art Museum | Cnr Bertha & Jorissen


See the WAM collection like never before! in Activate/Captivate curated by Dr Laura De Becker and Leigh Leyde. This multi-disciplinary exhibition explores the richness of the WAM collection and highlights the various ways the unique university collection of African art has inspired creativity amongst students, artists and researchers across a wide range of disciplines. Collaborative work with the Wits Music School, Wits Digital Art Department, Wits Fine Art Department, the University of Johannesburg Graphic Design Department and South African artists all form part of this rich and exciting exhibition. More info on the Facebook event page.

Stop 7: Kalashnikovv Gallery | 153 Smit Street


Seeing through the complexities of difference is the Kalashnikovv Gallery’s annual photographic group exhibition featuring both emerging to established photographers. The primary aim of this group show is to celebrate the individual and the way in which they engage and interact with the world through their chosen medium of photography. A special secret honorary guest will also be exhibiting and will be revealed on the night. More info on the Facebook event page

Visit www.first-thursdays.co.za for a list of the monthly highlights and for regular updates, find First Thursdays on Facebook and Instagram or search #FirstThursdays on Twitter.

Between 10 and 5