Since 2015, Kim Gurney has published from arts-based research three books where contemporary art tells larger stories about the urban everyday, collective life, and social imaginaries, with a fourth in the works for 2023. These have generally focused upon ‘offspaces’ – exploring public space in Johannesburg inner-city through walking, new media and performance art; the artistic inner life of a studio building in existential limbo; the working principles of non-profit project spaces on the continent; and the invisible labours revealed by a back room institutional archive. Kim will share the processes behind assembling publications as creative outcomes which aim to perform the subject matter, and the challenges involved.

The books referenced in this talk are: The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), August House is Dead, Long Live August House – The story of a Johannesburg Atelier (Fourthwall, 2017), Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa (Motto, 2022), & Flipside – The Inadvertent Archive,which is currently in production with iwalewabooks (Bayreuth, Lagos & Jhb).

Dr Kim Gurney is based at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, where she has been investigating sites of counterfactual imagination – independent art spaces, back room archives, and artisanal workshops. She brings a fusion of fine art, urban studies, and journalistic expertise together, favouring arts-based methods and experimenting with narrative forms. Her own art practice largely concerns disappearances of different kinds and makes restorative gestures – spanning studio work, public art, discourse and curation. She runs ad hoc a nomadic platform guerilla gallery; in 2023, it inhabits The Shed – a tiny space for big ideas. Kim has extensive experience as a writer and former editor in different genres, currently focused upon book projects.

Kim’s Panya Routes and August House is Dead, Long Live August House – The story of a Johannesburg Atelier are distributed by Karavan Press and Protea Distribution.

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