15 August 2020


Opportunity Description

2021 – celebrating conscious curating

An open call for exhibition proposals

The curator in ways is the imagination that frames the conversation, bringing different voices, distinct palettes into dialogue. As we have been so aware under lockdown, the capacity of the human imagination resides in the relation between things, between beings. We are diminished when we cannot make expressive contact with one another. The curated space helps the viewer to find relationships again, to think across and between performances, works of art, installations, and to pay a fresh attention to connections and conjunctions so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

For the past 50 years, from our home in the heart of Cape Town, the Association for Visual Arts has housed exhibitions that promote the discursive and experimental nature of contemporary art. In a time of upheaval of our society, when support for the arts is not a policy priority, we take our role more seriously than ever.

This year’s call for exhibitions in our various spaces in 2021 encourages curators to propose exhibitions that question, prod, reflect, or which carry daring ideas or maverick conversations.

The events of 2020 have required us to move some scheduled exhibitions into next year’s planning. As a consequence, there are no more than ten slots for curated group exhibitions plus five for solo exhibitions for our selection committee to program. In addition, we will schedule a line-up called 2021 New Media series in our new media room, which is designed for audio-visual art works.

I am a curator, what do I need to consider?

  • This is the time to get your creative juices flowing and let your imagination run wild, but let’s keep a few practicalities in mind:


  • At the AVA there are 3 different galleries; Main (92m2), Long (30m2), and Mezzanine (36m2). Please indicate in your proposal in which gallery you imagine installing your exhibition. The members of the selection committee will do their best to accommodate you, though final placement depends on programming.

Cost and the option of co-production

  • Principles of shared decision-making, experimentation and collaboration are at the heart of the AVA. In line with this, we extend our ArtReach support to curators this year. If you choose this option, you may be invited to negotiate a co-production package with us that may include aspects of marketing, programming, artist liaison or fundraising.
  • If you choose to fly solo, please note that you will be liable for the gallery rental as stated below. You will still receive all standard AVA facilitation services in terms of marketing, installation and running of the exhibition.
  • Main gallery: R6 000
  • Long gallery: R4 500
  • Mezzanine gallery: R3 500
  • New Media Room: R1 500

Curating a group show

  • Do you have a concept for a group exhibition but need more artists? Don’t worry; if your exhibition proposal is successful, you will have the chance to reach out to AVA’s vast network of artists through a second call for proposals, for artwork specifically.

I am an artist and I want to participate, how can I be included?
Great! Let’s explore your options.

Solo exhibition

  • There will be space for five new solo exhibitions. Proposals are adjudicated on strength, suitability and coherence of the body of work proposed. A competitive proposal includes a clear concept and images of recent work or sketches for future work to support this. Please note that gallery rental applies to proposals for solo exhibition.

Inclusion in curated exhibitions

  • If you are not ready for a full solo show, there is another option; After the curated exhibitions have been selected, a second call may be published for artists to submit works for specific group exhibitions. So keep your eyes peeled to our feeds!

Artist as curator

  • Maybe it is time to dip your toe in the curating pool? In the spirit of interdisciplinary practice, we encourage artists, too, to propose curated exhibitions.

What is the 2021 New Media series?

  • Over the past few months, many of us have come to truly appreciate the value of film, video, and sound. Not only for entertainment, but as a means of documenting and connecting to the outside world. To celebrate this enhanced appreciation for the moving image, we are calling for proposals for curated series of film or new media works. The series will be screened in the New Media room. Six slots are available and the curated series can run over multiple slots throughout the year.