Trainee Curator appointed by SANG
by Kim Gurney
The responses from the art community around the appointment of a new trainee curator at the Iziko South African National Gallery provided an interesting barometer of the art world, according to senior SANG curator Emma Bedford. She told delegates at the opening panel discussion of a curators' workshop last month that the public call for applications had evoked 'vociferous debate' around issues of transformation. Loyiso Qanya, a Michaelis Fine Art graduate, was last month confirmed as the new trainee curator at SANG. He joined the gallery's one-year mentorship programme in October this year where he is actively planning and devising new curatorial projects.
Bedford said accusations that the appointment was motivated by a strategy to exclude certain individuals were 'absurd', as were criticisms that the gallery was ignorant of the Equity Employment Act. She said the motivation was in fact to highlight and address the need for transformation in the industry: 'Transformation is essential to a healthy and productive cultural and social life', she added.
Another objection related to the stated requirement in the application criteria for an art degree, but Bedford defended this stipulation. She said the job demanded an understanding of context and framing and the ability to convey these verbally and by text, which was difficult to achieve without tertiary education.
Bedford said the mentorship programme was designed to address a serious shortage of curators. A shortlist of three was drawn up from 18 applications. The winning candidate was selected according to who best fulfilled the relevant criteria, showed a commitment to education and was not compromised by other career demands.