That's What She Said: Women's voices and stories in the Visual Arts

The VANSA Open Office Research Residency Programme in partnership with the National Arts Council invites all Female black artists, writers, arts administrators and arts managers to contribute to the research being conducted on the following topic : The role of black female artists in the Visual Arts.

All activities and events take place at KING KONG Building, 6 Verwey street, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg. In this particular research project initiated by Palesa Motsumi, titled "That's What She Said: Women's Voices and Stories in the Visual Arts, female, Black artists, writers, arts administrators to contribute their stories on being part of the Visual Arts and/or Arts, in general. All research activities and events take place at KING KONG Building, 6 Verwey street, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg.

South African cities today need more spaces where women of colour can gather and speak across geographical, economic, and generational boundaries. The politics surrounding physical spaces reflects a less tangible inequality that permeates South African society: an imbalance within public dialogue. Whose voices are allowed to participate in spaces of conversation, and whose voices are barred?

Female artists, particularly those of colour have increasingly been rendering pieces of work that engage audiences on socio-politcal content, however it is also a problem to not be able to access work or projects created by female artists, particularly, if they are not a Standard Bank Visual Arts Award winners or a recipient of an accolade. Of course, awards and recognition assist in the visibility of one’s work but to what extent? The idea of women in the visual Arts space “doing well” presents an opportunity to explore the notion of black female representation in the Arts.

The premise of the series of events in association with VANSA and the National Arts Council is to (1) document the experiences of black female artists, working in the visual arts, independently as well within the gallery borders. (2) To observe and gather information on the work and the role of art institutions, gallery spaces as well as curators in continuing the discourse on black female artist’s visibility within the visual arts sector.

From 8 - 15 June, female members of the Visual Arts / Arts and Culture in its entirety are invited to come into the VANSA space and contribute their thoughts, imaginations as well as stories through writing. All writing is kept anonymous.

On 12 June 2016, A film screening of 'Free The Nipple' will be on show at the VANSA Space with a debriefing, thereafter.

Finally, on the 29th of June, A "Fishbowl" gathering will be held. A first of its kind. Whether you are a newcomer to the space or have participated in previous activities, we invite you to participate in an “open fishbowl” conversation. By definition, a fishbowl conversation is characteristic of storytelling that allows and encourages participants to take ownership of their stories, unapologetically. The conversations will be inspired by the narratives shared during the ‘writing booth’ phase as well as some of the interviews conducted with individuals such as Same Mdluli, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Molemo Moiloa as well as LadySkollie.

To participate or join in any of the activities, please send an email to

All events are FREE!!!

**“We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.” - Alice Walker

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