Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Khanyisile Mbongwa

Khanyisile Mbongwa
is a Cape Town-based independent curator, award-winning artist, and sociologist who engages with her curatorial practice as Curing & Care. Thus using the creative to instigate spaces for emancipatory practices, joy and play.

Mbongwa is the curator of Puncture Points, founding member and curator of Twenty Journey and former Executive Director of Handspring Trust Puppets. She’s one of the founding members of arts collective Gugulective, Vasiki Creative Citizens and WOC poetry collective Rioters In Session. Mbongwa was a Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts at UCT, where she completed her masters in Interdisciplinary Arts, Public Art and Public Sphere. She has worked locally and internationally.

In 2012, together with the late Unathi Sigenu, Mbongwa won the MTN New Contemporary Award. As part of her Honors in Curatorship 2013, Mbongwa curated Demonstrations: Performing Being Black, a two-part exhibition that questioned the idea of ‘authentic blackness’ manufactured by township tourism agencies and the concept of legitimate and illegitimate spaces. The exhibition was housed at Brundyn + Gallery which was seen as the legitimate space and a series of demonstrations were staged in Gugulethu township alleyways seen as illegitimate spaces. 

In 2014 she won the Africa Centre - Artist In Residency Laureate and took up residency at JIWAR in Spain in 2015. Mbongwa was the Special Guest at Liste Art Fair Basel 2015. In 2016 she curated What Will We Tell Freedom?, a series of public interventions kwaLanga as part of Africa Centre’s public art festival Infecting The City. And her Offering piece Umnikelo Oshisiwe formed part of the 2016 Afreaka Festival in Brazil, BONE 19 Festival in Switzerland 2017 and the National Arts Festival in South Africa 2017. 

In 2018 she took up a curatorial research residency at CAT.Cologne, Cermany focusing on the public sphere, interventions and public policies. As a result curated BLUEPRINT: Where There’s Nowhere To Go, Where Is Home? 

Mbongwa has been a guest lecturer at UCT (University of Cape Town), DUT (Durban University of Technology), University of Zurich, University of Basel and Rhodes University. And has been an adhoc lecturer at Cape Town Creative Academy. In 2023 Mbongwa is invited by the Havard Center for African Studies as part of their workshop series, Mbongwa titled her workshop There Is No Table For My Seat, which is her ongoing research and positioning of ancestral knowledge systems as fundamental to the imagination of Black & Queer Futurity and the Black Global Diaspora Tradition.

Mbongwa worked with Norval Foundation as Adjunct Curator for Perfomative Practices and with Cape Town Carnival as Curatorial and Socio-Critical Development advisor. 

Most recent projects include, in 2020, Process as Resistance, Resilience & Regeneration – a group exhibition co-curated with Julia Haarmann honoring a decade of CAT. Cologne’s residency program and Athi-Patra Ruga’s solo at Norval Foundation titled iiNyanka Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook). In 2021, Mbongwa curated a group exhibition titled History’s Footnote: On Love & Freedom at Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastrict, Netherlands.

Mbongwa is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Create Arts, University of Cape Town and is a Blak C.O.R.E (Care of Radical Energy) Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She was the Chief Curator of the Stellenbosch Triennale 2020 and is the Curator for the Liverpool Biennial 2023.