Working together, apart…

working [a]part to[get]her[e]

The NEWWORK project is a year-long collective experience of interventions, installations, exhibitions, fundraising events, performances and networking…culminating in the graduate exhibition, usually taking place at four main venues – The Point of Order, the Wits Art Museum, Wits School of Arts and the Arthouse building. This final showing of works by all 4th year and Honours students from the Fine Art Department is the pinnacle and celebration of years of continued engagement, navigation and negotiation between students and lecturers, between ‘upcoming young artists’ and ‘artists’, between those who question “the
institution” and those who represent “the institution”.

11 2020 – 11 110 110

“Over the past 10 years likes and hearts and followers and constructed identities and bots and targeted ads and data scandals have challenged and shaped our understandings of how we exist online and offline” (Patel, 2019).

In 2019 when we celebrated 10 years of NEWWORK, little did we realise how much these words by Naadira Patel would not only elucidate, but also encompass the 2020 NEWWORK project. To exist in 2020 means that you have to exist online. And while living in this world of the binary, of the physical and the digital, of google drives and “my data is finished”, of staying within the frame so that you are visible to the person on the other side, of seeing yourself while speaking to others in video calls, of [dis]connection and miss(ed)communication, has been filled with overload and digital fatigue, it has also allowed many artists to break away from the reliance on the gallery as a space of showing. It would be important to pause a bit, and meditate on the gallery as a site that was never adequate when it comes to access, real or perceived. Patel’s observation as such captures the ways of working that arose from March 2020 – together apart – evoking the words from The Last Angel of History (1995), that “[t]he line between social reality and science fiction is an optical illusion’. As such, we should therefore take note of how between existing online and existing in the gallery, there exists manifold possibilities of other ways of being, of showing, of seeing and being seen, of knowing, doing, impacting…

Over the years we got to know that “there is no formula for NEWWORK”, this new space will allow us a moment to reflect on not only our archive, but to continue shaping new newworks and now-works in the years to come. We launch this year’s NEWWORK project with 49 artists on this site, alongside their extended websites and social media platforms.

We invite you to map your way through the artists’ keywords, through these connection points and linkages. We encourage you to extend this looking and reading experience via the downloadable publication below. These are the many parts of connectedness, of togetherness, that makes up the poetry of access and excess of the NEWWORK20 project.

Rangoato Hlasane, Naadira Patel and Reshma Chhiba

NEWWORK20 Coordinators