Riason Naidoo and Dominic Willsdon

Rita Lazarus – Ms Durban, 1960. Photographer Ranjith Kally. © Bailey’s African History Archive

Riason Naidoo and Dominic Willsdon
Thursday, April 25, 2013

ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013

For his program at the Hub, Riason Naidoo (Director of South African National Gallery & Old Town House Museums, Cape Town, South Africa) will present his documentary film, Legends of the Casbah - ‘Indian’ rebels of the 1950s (2013), directed by Naidoo and Damon Heatlie. Following the screening will be a conversation between Naidoo and Dominic Willsdon, Leanne & George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs at SFMOMA. Willsdon is co-curator of Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa (Feb-June 2014), and his recent essay Tricontinental Drifts, co-authored with Tarek Elhaik, reflects on cosmopolitanism and decolonization in the 1950s and ‘60s.

A feature-length documentary on some extraordinary South African ‘Indians’ from the 1950s, Legends of the Casbah is fresh from the cutting room in Johannesburg. It tells the intertwined stories of a number of surprising characters from Durban, ‘rebels’ who escaped the constraints imposed by the apartheid system to forge their own identities. In uncovering an ensemble cast of gangsters, sports stars, musicians, stunt riders and activists (amongst others), the film weaves an alternative history of Durban’s ‘Indian’ community in some of the iconic and symbolic spaces of the time like the Victoria Street Market, Victory Lounge eatery, Blue Lagoon beach, Sastri College, the Grey Street precinct, Curries Fountain stadium and the Durban Country Club. The film makes extensive use of photos from various state archives, DRUM magazine (BAHA), the likes of veteran Durban photographer Ranjith Kally and has also unearthed some fascinating gems from family footage and private photo albums. Musically it features a mesmerizing soundtrack by young jazz supremos Kesivan Naidoo, Kyle Shepherd, and Bokani Dyer, to name a few.

The film has grown out of two curatorial projects by Naidoo; the first is an exhibition (2006) and book (2008) entitled The Indian in DRUM magazine in the 1950s, curated from the Bailey’s African History Archives that has toured South African art museums and the second is numerous curated exhibitions on the work of veteran photographer Ranjith Kally from his own archives: 60 years in black & white – Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg (2004); Ranjith Kally – Photographer, Durban Art Gallery (2004); Lens on a Hidden History – 6th African Photo Biennale, Bamako (2005)/ Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) (2006); DRUM – Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006); and finally Exposition Memoires: Ranjith Kally – Espace JEUMON, Ville de Saint Denis, La Reunion (2007).

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with RIASON in the subject field.

April 25, 2013

401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013


Riason Naidoo

Riason Naidoo (b.1970) is an independent curator, based in South Africa. He was formerly the Director of South African National Gallery & Old Town House Museums, part of Iziko Museums of South Africa. He is co-curator with Tessa Jackson of a retrospective show on veteran artist Peter Clarke (b. 1929), entitled Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats taking place from 15 January – 9 March 2013 at the Institute of International Visual Arts (INIVA), Rivington Place, London. In 2012, he was one of three curators of the 10th edition of the Dak’art biennale of contemporary African art in Senegal. In 2010, he curated 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, an extensive exhibition of almost 600 artworks, that showcased a century of South African art shown at the SANG. He curated The Indian in DRUM magazine in the 1950s in 2006, a photographic exhibition from the Bailey’s African History Archive, that toured South Africa and in 2008 he published a book by the same name. Between 2004-2007 he curated several exhibitions on the work of veteran photographer Ranjith Kally (b.1925), that was shown in Johannesburg and Durban and that travelled to Mali, Austria, Spain, and France. Naidoo previously directed the South African-Mali: Timbuktu Manuscripts project for the South African Presidency and the Department of Arts & Culture, also NEPAD’s first cultural project. He has previously been in charge of artistic projects at the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) in Johannesburg; taught drawing, painting, and art history at the University of Witwatersrand; and worked as education officer at the Durban Art Gallery. He has BA and MA in Fine Art from University of the Witwatersrand and has been on a scholarship to the MS University of Baroda in India (1997) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux in France (2001).

Dominic Willsdon

Dominic Willsdon is an educator and curator. He is the Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he is also associate professor in art education. He was formerly Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a Pedagogical Curator of the 9th Mercosul Biennial (2013) and a Co-Curator of the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2016), and Curator of Public Programs at Tate Modern (2000-2005). Recent curatorial projects include Public Knowledge (2016-19) and Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here (2019). Recent publications include Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT, 2016).

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