Nomusa Makhubu

Born 1984. Lives and works in Cape Town

Makhubu, BFA, MA, PhD (Rhodes University) is an award-winning artist, academic and a full-time lecturer at Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. She received the ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award (2006) and the Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy (2014). She is the Chairperson of Africa South Art Initiative (ASAI), an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellow, an Abe Bailey fellow, and was a research fellow of the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) in Nigeria, Lagos where her doctoral research was based. Makhubu was appointed to the National Arts Festival committee in 2011-2015. She co-edited a Third Text Special Issue: The Art of Change (2013). She was a recipient of the CAA-Getty travel award in 2014. In November 2013, Makhubu participated in the Semiha Es - Women Photographers International Symposium, in Istanbul, Turkey. Her paper, The Power and Terror of the Enactment of Collective Memory in Performative Photography commented directly on her own work, particularly the Self-Portrait Project series. In 2014 she was one of Mail & Guardian newspaper’s Top 200 Young Achievers (Academia). The same year, her exhibition at Dak’Art Biennale 2014 received an award. Makhubu has contributed her writing to Critical Arts (Violence and the Cultural Logics of Pain: Representations of Sexuality in the Work of Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi, African Arts (Politics of Strangeness: Re-visiting Pieter Hugo’s Nollywood), Journal of African Cultural Studies (Interpreting the fantastic: video-film as intervention), Third Text as well as book projects and catalogues (Spaces of Contention and Confrontation: The Geography of Truth in Zak Benjamin’s Paintings for the Zak Benjamin Retrospective).

Her practice is lens based, and through the medium of photography she explores issues of identity and particularly the sensitive issue of representation/self-representation. Her acclaimed series, Self-Portrait Project alludes to the continued alienation and estrangement in an era where the focus is inclined toward self and individual identity as opposed to collective and communal life. One of the canonical meanings that Achille Mbembe (2002: 241) argues can be attributed to slavery and colonialism (as well as Apartheid) is dispossession, a process in which juridical and economic procedures have led to material expropriation. Her 2013 series, The Flood received deserved critical acclaim. It marks a departure in her work, shifting from the personal to the public, from the performative to documenting. In 2015 she returned to an earlier practice of weaving two photographs into a unique work. Makhubu won her first award in 2006 with an entry of woven photographs. In the current series, In Living Colour she brings two geographical locations in one pictorial space to question the assumed universality and objectivity of time and place.

Curriculum Vitae 2015
Self-Portrait Project Artist Statement
In Living Colour Critical Text


2017 Intertwined 2005 - 2017 Johannes Stegman Gallery Bloemfontein, SA
2017 Seeing Ourselves - North-West University Gallery Potchefstroom, SA
2016 International Young Photographers Exhibition Daegu, South Korea
2016 Intertwined 2005 - 2015 University Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2016 Dak’Art 2004 - 2014 Manoir de la Ville, Martigny, Switzerland
2015 AFiRIperFOMA Biennale Biennale Foundation, Lagos Nigeria
2015 START,Saatchi Gallery London
2015 Form & Substance Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town
2015 Twenty: Contemporary South African Art University of Johannesburg
2015 Trek: Following Journeys Smac Gallery, Cape Town
2015 Am I Not a Man and a Brother? Am I Not a Woman and a Sister? Archer Gallery, Clark College, Washington
2014 Museum Biennale Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum Port Elizabeth
2014 Co-Existence Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town
2014 Silk and Steel Galerie NOKO, Port Elizabeth
2014 29th ABSA L’Atelier ABSA Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2014 Twenty: Contemporary South African Art The Appalachian State University, North Carolina, United States
2014 Dak’Art Biennale Senegal
2014 Actuality & Illusions Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town
2013 Crossing the Divide Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town
2013 Cape Town Art Fair Cape Town
2013 Am I Not a Man and a Brother? Am I Not a Woman and a Sister? James Harris Gallery, Seattle, United States
2013 Lagosian Lagos, Nigeria
2012 Dali International Photography Exhibition Dali, China
2012 Re-Sampled Absa Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2011 Living Archive, VB Photographic Centre, Kuopio, Finland
2011 Water Performance in collaboration with Injairu Kulundu, Grahamstown
2010 Dream Sweepers Artspace, Johannesburg
2010 No More Bad Girls Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna
2009 Photoquai Musee du Quai Branly, Paris9
2009 Umahluko Cape ‘09, Cape Town
2009 The World Needs Us Centro Luigi di Sarro, Rome, Italy
2008 Iso Eliphandliwe Alliance Francaise, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Mbabane (Swaziland), Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Lesotho
2008 Hollywood, Nollywood & Bollywood Artspace, Johannesburg
2008 I Love Jozi Galeri Béatrice Binoche, Reunion Island
2008 Construct:Beyond the Documentary Photograph University of South Africa Art Gallery,Pretoria, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth, Durban Art Gallery, National Arts Festival,Grahamstown, Johannes Stegman Art Museum, Bloemfontein, Goethe Institute, Johannesburg
2008 Four Tales Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg 2008
2008 Glimpse Bean Bag Bohemia, Durban
2008 3 Years ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg
2007 Art From The Ground Up Hanover and Kuopio
2007 Spier Contemporary Spier Wine Estate, Cape Town, Johannesburg Art Gallery
2007 GlamourAid Johannesburg
2007 Jeune Creation Galerie Jeune Creation, Paris
2007 Contemporary Visions Of Southern Africa Exhibition Pretoria Museum, Pretoria
2007 Sasol New Signatures Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria
2007 Faces to Face Joint exhibition with Javier Maltos Galves, Internationale Cite Des Arts, Paris
2006 Positive Sun International/ Tapologo Aids Hospice exhibition, Johannesburg
2006 Look At Me Artists for Humanity: Women Against Child Abuse Print Project, Billboard: Raglan Road, Grahamstown
2005 Brett Kebble Art Awards Cape Town & Johannesburg
2005 Eastern Cape Artists - Paper Works, National Arts Festival Grahamstown


Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin,Permanent Collection, Berlin, Germany
Manoir de la Ville de Martigny, Permanent Collection, Martigny, Switzerland
Serenella and David Ciclitira, Private Collection, London
The Hood Museum of African Art, Permanent Collection, Dartmouth College, United States
North-West University Gallery, Permanent Collection, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Rand Merchant Bank, Corporate Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
University of South Africa Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Pretoria, South Africa
Telkom South Africa, Corporate Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa
Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Permanent Collection, Bloemfontein, South Africa


New and Recent work 2015 E-Book
The contemporary politics of Identity, Tradition & Culture Online feature, 2014
ArtForum, September 2014
Third Text The Art of Change in South Africa, Guest Editor - Number 122 May 2013
Charting Moral Geographies: Nollywood and the Nationhood Rhetoric 2012
Thoughts on the First-Wave of Contemporary Performance Art in South Africa 2012
Re-Sampled, Exhibition Catalogue, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg 2012
Spaces of Contention and Confrontation: The Geography of Truth in Zak Benjamin’s Paintings Exhibition Catalogue, 2011
No More Bad Girls,Exhibition Catalogue, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna 2010
Photoquai, Exhibition Catalogue, Musee du Qaui Branly, Paris 2009
Spier Contemporary,Exhibition Catalogue, Cape Town, Johannesburg 2007


Winner of Dak’Art Biennale Le Fresnoy Award 2014
Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2013
Nomination: Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award 2012
Business and Art South Africa (BASA) 2008
Winner of ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award 2006
Rhodes Amnesty International Woman of the Year Award 2006
Vaal Triangle,Abstract Work Exhibition, Third Prize 1998


Prix du Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Le Fresnoy, France, 2015