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SA expert shines a light on complex forms of mobility within Africa and the diaspora at Munich exhib


Acclaimed Wits University researcher and built environment expert Dr Mpho Matsipa is currently curating a groundbreaking architectural exhibition at the architectural museum in Munich.

The exhibition African Mobilities: This is not a refugee camp, addresses the complex forms of mobility within Africa and the diaspora.

"It explores experimental approaches in architecture and art to migration and circulations of ideas, people, commodities and aesthetics across Africa and the diaspora," she says.

"In the current situation, in which international borders are being redrawn, managed and monitored by force, and in which individual countries are increasingly subject to the effects of capitalist profit cycles, it is time to look into architectural forms which respond to these supposedly set structures."

Matsipa has a degree in architecture from the University of Cape Town and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her PhD, The Order of Appearances, explored the entangled geographies of urban informality, urban redevelopment and the politics of race, gender and aesthetics in Johannesburg’s inner city.

Matsipa has written critical essays and reviews on public art, culture and space for Art South Africa, The Architectural Review and Thesis 11 (forthcoming), and has curated several exhibitions, including that of the South African Pavilion at the XI International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2008).

She has been an adjunct assistant professor of architecture and associate research scholar at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and a curator of Studio-X Johannesburg – a Columbia University-sponsored experimental public platform on architecture and the city.

African cities are presented here as sites of refuge, which in their rapid transformation, are producing new architectural typologies, changes in infrastructure and a rapidly expanding interaction with digital technologies. In this context, African migration is seen both as a challenge and as an opportunity for rethinking architecture and urban planning.

In preparation for the African Mobilities exhibition, over the past two years architects, town planners, film-makers, artists, social scientists and authors from Africa met at eight different locations, Johannesburg; Harare; Kampala; Lagos; New York; Dakar; Praia and Munich. In workshops, they analysed this continually evolving world, and used diverse media to convey their research outcomes, and to visualize possible future urban scenarios.

In African Mobilities, Matsipa brings together the works that came out of those meetings, including artworks, graphic novels, films and audiobooks. Ilze Wolff, a co-director at Wolff Architects in Cape Town, is creating the exhibition design, which captures the various forms of mobility among migrants in a spatial composition.

African Mobilities is a collaboration between the Architekturmuseum der TU München in the Pinakothek der Moderne and the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). The initiative is supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. The project was produced with the support of the Goethe Institute, which will also be involved in the upcoming tour of the exhibition on the African continent.

The exhibition opened on 25 April 2018 and will continue until 19 August 2018 in Munich.

For more information on the project visit http://africanmobilities.org/



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