In a testament to their longstanding commitment to fostering creativity and connectivity in the community, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Art Gallery and the MTN SA Foundation have announced their latest collaborative endeavour, the “re/connect/ing” exhibition.
“Re/connect/ing” marks the fourth instalment in a series of collaborations that have unfolded over the years, reaffirming the invaluable partnership between the two entities. Over the years, the UJ Art Gallery and the MTN SA Foundation have come together to explore significant themes derived from South Africa’s contemporary social landscape, as reflected in the artworks from both the MTN Foundation and UJ Art collections.
Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN SA’s Sustainability & Corporate Affairs Chief, emphasized the significance of this partnership, saying, “MTN and UJ’s collaboration answers the question to MTN’s current slogan: ‘What are we doing today?’ The exhibition focuses on the connections we make through partnerships and collaborations, be it in business, relationships, or art. It includes artworks from the permanent collections of the University of Johannesburg and MTN.”
The MTN SA Foundation, as the corporate social investment arm of MTN South Africa, remains committed to its vision of providing modern connected life benefits to all” O’Sullivan added. “MTN Foundation is picking up where we left off on the great initiative in 2019. Reconnecting society and industry still seem to be recovering from the separation and disconnection brought about by the not-so-distant lockdown conditions of COVID.” MTN SA Foundation is proud to sponsor the “re/connect/ing” exhibition and its accompanying education and mentorship programs. This partnership reaffirms the commitment of both organizations to nurture the talents of curators and artists alike, shaping the future of the creative industry.
“Our partnership with the UJ Art Gallery has for the past 7 years been tremendously productive and have seen at least six major collaborative exhibitions, physical and virtual, with accompanying education and mentorship programmes come to fruition,” says Niel Nortjé, manager of the MTN Art Collection.
In 2017 the first collaborated exhibition titled “Shifting Conversations”, addressed the socio-political gaps within both institutions’ collections. Subsequent editions, “Continuing Conversations” (2018) and “Conversing the Land” (2019), delved into the realms of portraiture and land matters, respectively.
Other collaborative exhibitions at the UJ Art Gallery have included notable showcases such as “MTN x UJ New Contemporaries Awards – Subject: Object” (2022), “Blind Alphabet: Sculpture and Sound” (2021), and “The Blind Alphabet” (2020), amongst others.
Now, in the wake of the COVID lockdowns, this latest instalment seeks to explore the desire for connection and reconnection in an increasingly digitally driven world. The “re/connect/ing” exhibition explores the connections forged through partnerships, collaborations, and art.
The exhibition uniquely involves MTN and UJ staff from various vocations and positions, including those who are familiar with the collections but have never acted as curators. Staff members were asked to select a work from the exhibition that resonated with them personally, adding a unique perspective to the showcase.
Rika Nortjé acting curator of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Art Gallery says, “Collaborating with MTN has become a highlight of our programme. When we select artworks for a collaborative exhibition, we are forced to look at our collections with fresh eyes: draw parallels, look for similar narratives, explore possibilities. Although these two collections are very different in terms of size, provenance and content, they hold endless connections and conversations. Post-Covid, many people still struggle to re-engage and reconnect. In this exhibition, we tried to find links and threads that connect us through art.”
Looking ahead, MTN eagerly anticipates more successful collaborations with UJ and believes that such partnerships will continue to shape a brighter future for many. As a company dedicated to connecting people and communities, MTN remains an innovative partner in enabling good connectivity and bringing people closer together. They reaffirm their commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen, supporting heart-warming initiatives that aim to make a lasting impact on society.
“Re/connect/ing” is a testament to the power of collaboration, art, and connectivity in our ever-changing world offering visitors an opportunity to engage with thought-provoking artworks that reflect the connections we make through partnership and art.
The exhibition will run until 19 January 2024 at the MTN Head Offices in Fairlands, Johannesburg, and can be viewed on the following days and times and by confirming your booking with an email to MTNSA.FoundationEvents@mtn.com
7 October from 10h00 – 12h00pm
21 October from 10h00 – 12h00pm
11 November from 10h00 – 12h00pm
25 November from 10h00 – 12h00pm
Main Image: Supplied