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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Visions of Violence and Humanism in Contemporary South African Art

Prof Colin Richards.

Many artists, curators, critics and scholars in South Africa are grappling with notions of ('African') humanism in a context of historical and current violence. In many instances the relation between humanism(s) and violence are being confronted and engaged, rather than denied (as is mostly the case in neo-liberal and neo-colonial versions of humanism). In this paper I will consider the works of a number of South African artists, selected exhibitions and art writers engaging in the struggle to articulate - materially and conceptually - the complex relations between between different humanism(s) and violence. Part of this struggle is to recognise and rearticulate links between locality and global art circuits. The 2nd Johannesburg Biennial and its aftermath will be the focus of this presentation.


Prof Colin Richards  (South Africa)
Professor in Wits School of Arts,
Wits School of Arts Faculty of Humanities
University of the Witwatersrand

Colin Richards is an artist, lecturer, and curator, based at the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published widely on contemporary South African art, curated a number of exhibitions (1st and 2nd Johannesburg Biennials, and has work in major public collections in South Africa.

  • Violence
  • Humanism
  • Contemporary South African Visual Art
Person as Subject
  • Various contemporary South African visual artists, critical writers, curators.

(30 min Conference Paper, English)