Archive: Issue No. 127, March 2008

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The return of the MTN New Contemporaries

The MTN New Contemporaries Award is scheduled to run again in July 2008. The event, which occurs approximately every two years', has been instrumental in bringing significant new talents to public attention, most notably Mlungisi Zondi (2006), Thando Mama (2003)and Thembinkosi Goniwe (2001). According to MTN, the competition is designed to promote talented, cutting-edge artists who have not yet received critical acclaim but who are positioned to be the next leaders in the at field'.

The award lists important curators in its history: Khwezi Gule, Kathryn Smith and Clve Kellner have all been involved in the exhibition's format, which sees four top new contemporary artists being selected to create new works especially for the award, from whichan overall winner is chosen by an independent judging committee.

The award is distinct from other SA art competitions in that its attention is entirely unsolicited by the artists it selects: this alters the dynamic from the standard clamour for attention from hundreds of artists that often characterises competitions. This year, Johannesburg writer, curator and ex-JHB Editor of ArtThrob Melissa Mboweni has been selected to the prestigious position of curator. The process she will undertake involves a two-month research project and tour of galleries and studios, culminating in her selection of four artists.

The actual exhibition component of the process occurs at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery in July, at which the winner will be announced.