04 Jun Art Practitioner Amogelang Maledu Navigates The World With Luminescent Eyes
Amogelang Maledu dissolves the bits and pieces of township culture, from the language to the daily movement in Ga-rankuwa, Pretoria. These treasurable learnings and teachings have formed an embedded asset within her – while she works at curating art projects that highlight and place black mastery on a pedestal.
Amogelang shares more on her role as an art practitioner with us.
What sparked your interest in the arts?
What sparked my interest in the arts is particularly my background growing up koKasi (township) and really being exposed to culture. And broadly speaking, the culture here includes the creative flux of township life and language; so my interests in art is very much linked to the community that I grew up in Ga-rankuwa, Pretoria where I was exposed to these cultural social activities that were full of so much Black affirmation, creativity, and cultural legitimacy. My interests in the arts, and perhaps even my curatorial practise comes from those lived experiences. My interest in the arts was also fuelled by the fact that I went to an art high school from Grade 8 until 12 where I was exposed to the Dramatic Arts, Visual Arts, Culinary Arts, Dance as well as Music.
Let’s get into your creative role as an art practitioner. What does an art practitioner and curator do on a daily basis? Take us through a day in the life of Amogelang.
The work I do as a curator is very varied especially because I am an independent curator, which means that I work on my own projects and volition which includes mainly fundraising for my projects or working on collaborations with institutions and other curators for a period of time and in that way I don’t really have a daily consistent schedule because it depends on what projects I’m working on at that particular times. For instance, last year I worked at a museum and I considered that my ‘day job’, but I was curatorially assisting and content managing the 58th Venice Biennale for the South African Pavilion with the lead curators. I was also a curatorial fellow for Infecting the City public arts festival in Cape Town, as well as working on actualizing two book projects. So my day to day work in curating looks very different every day, especially because I am independent and not necessarily tied to an institution or 9 to 5.
Any memorable projects you’ve curated that you’d date as your favorites?
Because I’m still kind of early-career into my art practitioning practice, being only active in the space for about two and half years, one which was being a full-time Curatorship student and being exposed to the Artworld network; last year I worked at a national gallery and various other institutions; and this year I’m completely doing my own thing working independently full time. I really don’t have a repository of projects that I have to necessarily rank as favorites in that way. And so with that being said, my most memorable projects include – starting from my most recent projects – curating an exhibition for the University of Cape Town’s Works of Art Committee which is responsible for the institution’s art acquisitions on its various campuses. The exhibition showcased the university’s latest art acquisitions. My other highlight is my first international gig, which was assisting with the South African Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale. I also really enjoyed being a curatorial fellow for Infecting the City last year.
Are there any distinct differences between an artist vs an art practitioner?
Yes. Artists have very specific outputs in sustaining their creative work which is mainly to produce their work and sell it. Whereas an art practitioner is not necessarily in the business of selling (only) commodities, often being an art practitioner includes wearing many hats interchangeably. For instance, I describe my curatorial practice as premised on practitioning; which includes teaching, writing, editing, and researching. My objectives and outputs are not always in the realm of literal artistic production, but rather in the realm of expanding the discourse around the work of the artists and their artistic and cultural production.
When taking on a curating project, what does your creative process look like in terms of conceptualizing and planning?
Honestly, it is very much dependent on what the curatorial project is especially because my curatorial practice doesn’t just end at exhibition making – it includes research projects, creative books, lecturing, writing, etc. So it really depends on what the scope of the project is and thus there’s no specific blueprint on how my creative process would look like because most projects I work on are different in their scope and needs.
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