The Michaelis Curatorial Practicum is an independent internship carried out at a museum, gallery, archive, cultural organisation or institution, auction house, commercial gallery, art magazine or other relevant site. Practicums have been jointly developed by the programme director and experience provider/practicum partner and are conducted under the guidance of an experienced on-site supervisor. This on-site experience is designed to offer students practical insights into curatorial practice and the mechanics of cultural institutions, and has been created so that students are given the chance to establish valuable professional contacts. Each student is given the opportunity to choose an internship that will fit his or her interests either in critical writing, curatorial practice, museology, arts administration or art history. The internship requires that students not only engage with whatever project is being developed, but that they develop a critical understanding of their environment and work that is being done.
This year each honours students could choose to get involved in one of the following exhibitions/projects for their internship:
The Thinking Eye, Irma Stern Museum
Description — Dubow took different kinds of photographs, their style and premise alluding at times to formalism, conceptualism, cubism and surrealism; their intentions and purposes including sequences, series, sites, interventions, architecture, memorials, portraiture and erotica. His approach, which he described as “the neglected tradition in photography”, particularly in South Africa, was “to see intellectually”, to seek the image, the resolution, in the viewfinder. No notion of photography is more appropriate for his work than that of Ansel Adams: “A photograph is not an accident – it is a concept.”
Tasks — Interns will be involved in some research, as well as mounting of the exhibition and will gain significant insight into a special image narrative design program employed by the curators.
Mentors — Marilyn Martin and Paul Weinberg
Site and institution involved — Irma Stern Museum
The Mirror in the Ground, the Centre for African Studies (CAS) Gallery
Description — John Goodwin was a formative figure in the establishment of South African, and African, archaeology, who practiced through a significant period from the mid-1920s to the late 1950s. This period saw the localization and institutionalization of a disciplinary project in archaeology.Goodwin was one of the first professional archaeologists to work in sub-saharan Africa. Together with Clarence “Peter” van Riet Lowe, he set in place a basic nomenclature and typology for African Stone Ages that is still in standard usage today. In the mid-1940s, he was instrumental in the founding of the Archaeological Society of South Africa, and was the founding editor of the South African Archaeological Bulletin.
Tasks — Interns will be required to sit in conceptualization meetings and contribute towards the installation of the show. Other responsibilities include captioning images, communication/PR and opening event.
Mentor — Siona O’Connell
Site and institution involved — UCT, CAS Gallery
1925, Michaelis Galleries and Iziko Old Town House
Description — This two-part exhibition (Michaelis/Old Town House) will gravitate around 1925, the year fine art students were first admitted to the school and centenary of the precursor of what is now known as the South African Museum. The project will make use of artworks produced at the time, and others that render an idea of the socio-economic and historic context. The exhibition will involve research and work with several archives at Michaelis, UCT and Iziko under the mentorship of Andrew Lamprecht.
Tasks — Practicum should provide students with exposure to the demands of curatorial research and exhibition-making.
Mentor — Andrew Lamprecht
Site and institution involved — Michaelis Galleries and Iziko Old Town House
Moses Tladi, the Iziko South African National Gallery
Description — This will be the first major exhibition of the work of Moses Tladi, a neglected artist in the South African canon. Moses Tladi was born in 1903 in the remote Sekhukhuneland, east of Pretoria. He was the son of a medicine-man who made a living by working in iron, and a mother who was a gifted potter. He spent his early childhood herding cattle in the striking hill-country around his birthplace. Moses’s parents became “believers” under the influence of the Berlin Missionary Society, and he was educated at the Lobenthal Mission, at ga Phaahla. Like many young men at the time, Tladi moved to the city in search of work.He was “discovered” by Herbert Read after he started painting with leftover house paint and a stick. Read introduced Tladi to the collector and philanthropist Howard Pim, who promoted Tladi at public exhibitions from 1929 onwards. His first appearance in Johannesburg in 1929 caused a sensation. During the 1930s, he achieved country-wide repute as an outstanding landscape painter in the international style. He is regarded as the first black artist to exhibit formally in South Africa, and was certainly the first black artist to exhibit at the South African National Gallery in 1931.Tladi served his country in the Second World War, but continued to paint until the tragic events of 1956, when he was forced to move out of his home. It was a time before apartheid’s Group Areas Act, so he had owned property in a Johannesburg suburb. However he and his family were forced to move to Soweto, where the allotted shack could not keep all the family’s possessions. Tladi continued to suffer neglect compared to his national exposure in the 1930s and died in 1959, a neglected artist.
Tasks — Given that much of Tladi’s work is abroad, this exhibition should provide students with exposure to loan agreements, customs, insurance and transport, as well as other aspects of exhibition-making.
Mentor — Andrea Lewis
Site and institution involved — Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG)
Fired, the Castle
Description — When the Working with Museum Collections sclass visited the Castel of Good Hope in 2015, ‘Fired’, an exhibition of ceramics in the granary, had been de-installed as the venue was undergoing works. It will have to be re-installed in due course. Interns are expected to assist with the re-installation.
Tasks — Handling and display of ceramics
Mentor — Esther Esmyol
Site and institution involved — The Castle
Irma Stern, the Iziko South African National Gallery
Description — An exhibition of works from the Permanent Collection.
Tasks — Practicum should provide students with exposure to the demands of exhibition-making.
Mentors — Carol Kaufmann / Andrea Lewis
Site and institution involved — Iziko South African National Gallery
Sanlam Collection Management / Boardroom Exhibition at Sanlam, Bellville
Description — The Sanlam Art Collection was established in 1965. With holdings of more than 2000 items, the collection provides a representative overview of South African art dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. Sanlam continues to acquire works by South African artists to broaden the representative character of the collection.A selection from the collection is on exhibition in the Sanlam Art Gallery located in the Sanlam Head Office in Bellville. With only 2% of the collection on display at any time the exhibition is changed on a bimonthly basis. The Sanlam Art Collection regularly organises exhibitions that travel to Arts Festivals and public art galleries throughout South Africa.
Tasks — Acquisition of collections management skills. Tasks may include, but not be limited to: cataloging new acquisitions and loans, object photography, data entry, artifact handling and research. Possible exhibition in the Boardroom depending on quality of proposals.
Mentor — Stefan Hundt
Site and institution involved — Sanlam, Bellville