South Africa: Pamela Phatsimo Suntrum's Work Published

The University of Cape Town's (UCT) Michaelis Galleries has published a book on Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum's work titled There Are Mechanisms in Place

The book follows the artist's solo exhibition of the same name presented at Michaelis Galleries from 23 August to 21 September 2018.

The title refers to a speech that South Africa's Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, gave in October 2015 in response to student protests. In it, the minister stated: "It is a challenge, but I wouldn't call it a crisis. A crisis implies that the situation is so bad that there are no mechanisms to deal with it. There are mechanisms in place."

From this speech, Sunstrum became interested in how this ominously delivered threat served to confirm that the historical mechanisms that were once in place to "deal with" student uprising are still, indeed, "in place" now.


The book opens with essays from curators Nkule Mabaso and Nomusa Makhubu, contextualising Sunstrum's exhibition in a place that directly links to its critique of the university.

It deliberately centres around and collaborates with Black women cultural producers responding to Sunstrum's solo exhibition. These responses include contributions in the form of poetic interpretations by accomplished poets Makhosazana Xaba and Toni Stuart. Other contributions include thought-provoking essays by interdisciplinary art practitioners Thulile Gamedze, Amie Soudien, Philiswa Lila and Refilwe Nkomo. Bonolo Kavula's contribution - an illustrated zine - teethes out Sunstrum's themes of African creative practices, such as science, science fiction and the political imaginary.

The exhibition probes social experiences of home, belonging and estrangement through the prisms of science and futurity, politics, economy and governance. Photos Melvin Pather.


The exhibition probes social experiences of home, belonging and estrangement through the prisms of science and futurity, politics, economy and governance. Sunstrum explores parallels between ancient cosmology and advanced theories in science.

Her creative research yields an assemblage of mythology, historical heroics, and speculations on the structure of the universe. She creates figures in her work that are time travelling, fantastical, and alternate selves. As such, time, history, space, place and selfhood - whether actual or invented - are all significant narrative and conceptual concerns.

The hand-crafted creative book provides a full view of the artist's approach - exploring her futurist and coded works on paper.

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