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Thursday, April 25, 2019


(Smangaliso Khumalo’s “Franz Taaibosch Di Freak’s Soliloquy Slaloms”, performed at the Stellenbosch Triennale Launch 2019)

At a time when South Africa is seeing an upsurge in public art institutions and initiatives, Stellenbosch has joined the ranks as a pioneer in this new chapter of public art in South Africa.

A South African first, February 27 2019 saw the official launch of the Stellenbosch Triennale in Stellenbosch.

The Stellenbosch Triennale emerges from the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust (now renamed Stellenbosch Public Art Network) and its years of experience in enacting public art exhibitions in Stellenbosch. The Triennale, to commence in its full scale in February 2020 takes public art in Stellenbosch to new heights in terms of its international reach, the scope and variety of the work to be showcased as well as its intention to place creativity in critical dialogue with society.

Renowned South African curator, artist, and sociologist Khanyisile Mbongwa from KZN has been tasked to deliver the Stellenbosch Triennale as chief curator with Nontombeko Ntombela (South Africa) and Bernard Akoi Jackson (Ghana) making up the rest of the impressive curatorial team.

The two artists selected to participate in the launch event were Helen Nabukenya from Uganda and South African performance artist Smangaliso Khumalo.

Khumalo is from KwaZulu-Natal. In 2016 he was invited by WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery in Cape Town to participate in a group show entitled Dear Europa curated by Ashleigh McLean. Ifa:Lefa, the title of the work, was featured in Adjective magazine with an article written by Ashraf Jamal.

In 2017 Khumalo was invited to Nirox Sculpture Park’s annual Winter Sculpture Fair where he did a performance piece title Frantz Taaibosch. The narrative of Taaibosch was a salient one which dovetailed with Khumalo’s “Othered” existence as a gay man living in homophobic South Africa. Within that same year Khumalo was invited to the Durban Essence festival curated by Carol Brown where he again performed Frantz Taaibosch. In 2018, Khumalo was invited by Dr Gwen Miller (his mentor) to participate in a group show at the ITSA conference. Most of Khumalo’s work deals with the miasma of the symbiotic relationship with his ilk and the South African constituency at large.

Khumalo’s project titled We closed our eyes and prayed consisting of a video installation titled Filial, was screened at the launch event, after which he led guests through the streets of the town to Die Braak, the site of his live performance titled Franz Taaibosch Di Freak’s Soliloquy Slaloms. His work reflects on the liminality of identity formation in relation to the structures of binaries that govern society and how to negotiate ‘being’ from this position of inbetweenness as well as the fragility and trauma that comes with existing in that third space.

Nabukenya created two site specific installation pieces for the launch. One work was created with a group of womxn in Kampala, Uganda, and travelled with Nabukenya to Stellenbosch. Entitled Kawuuwo, it is a 22m x 9m textile tapestry installation that covers the Stellenbosch Triennale offices, housed in the historic Voorgelen building on Dorp Street, her largest to date. The second installation is created with the assistance of a womxn’s sewing group from Kayamandi in Stellenbosch, entitled Agali awamu. This work covers metal containers situated in the centre of the town on the historical site of Die Braak.

The Stellenbosch Triennale launch represented a bold statement of intent; to make Stellenbosch the primary destination of public art in Africa. This is exciting in and of itself but beyond aesthetics, the subtle nuances embedded in this project hold even greater promise of interesting horizons of possibility and shifts for the town of Stellenbosch.

The inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale launches in February 2020. For more information visit