2015 July 8: Reflections of co-organising an exhibition

by Collen Mfazwe

I always thought that artists give orders to the gallery and brief them on what they want to see on the day of the exhibition. Well, I have learned that its not like that, as an artist, you must be involved.

Organising an exhibition is no child’s play. It needs one to focus and make sure that the artist is impressed. I was involved in organizing our Visual Activism Cultural Exchange Project (VACEP). It resulted in a group exhibition titled, 21/21/2015, born out of a collaboration between Inkanyiso.org and Kunstplass 10, in Oslo, Norway. We didn’t have much time to organize the show which was opening in Oslo, on July 2 2015. We wanted the best exhibition ever.

2015 July 12015 July 1 Henriette Stensdal _ Kunstplass 10 curator

Henriette Stensdal, our curator and co- founder of Kunstplass 10 gallery busy with installation. Photos by Lerato Dumse

While I was busy selecting my photos, I also helped in the gallery. The more people involved in the installation process, the more opinions you have to consider while producing great work for your viewers. Having a good narrative is important, it gives your visitors a sense of direction about the exhibition. Working as a group means you can also divide tasks between people, resulting in fewer responsibilities on your shoulders. It was a great experience indeed, I wish for another chance, so I can learn more. We did not have lots of preparation time, but at the end of the day it was a successful exhibition. It helps to work with a team.

2015 June 30 Collen and Lindeka busy with video editing

Lerato busy capturing the installation process whilst Lindeka and Collen edit videos for the show… Photo by Vibeke Hermanrud


After all the hard work done, I was really looking forward to the day of the exhibition, to see people’s reactions because we were exhibiting two different things. We showcased South African Lesbian funerals and Oslo Pride. I really wanted to see the viewer’s response to the painful work they are not used to, and being featured in photos from Oslo pride events.

I really wanted people of colour to attend, especial Africans. I photographed great photos of them, and I wanted them to see the photos. When they entered the gallery I was relieved. Seeing their excited faces and receiving hugs from them completed me. They didn’t believe that they were featured in the exhibition. They kept asking to photograph their photos on the wall as well as the video screened.

2015 June 30 Collen Oslo best photo selection

Collen’s best Oslo Pride 2015 photos that made it to the final selection for our exhibition. Photo by Christie van Zyl


I enjoyed the part when viewers engaged with the work and kept on asking questions. They even bought some of our work, that’s how much they appreciated what they saw on the walls of Kunstplass 10. After the exhibition, friends wanted to celebrate with us. Even though we were exhausted, we couldn’t say no, because that would be rude. We went out and grabbed food, drinks and had fun. I wish this can happen at home, to have people appreciate your art work and respect your visual activism and hard work. Thanks to everyone who attended the 21/21/2015 exhibition.

Big thanks to Vibeke Hermanrud and Henriette Stensdal for making this day possible for us. I wish we can produce more art work with them and exhibit around the world.


2015 July 2 VACEP - SA Team in Oslo. Photo by Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty

2015 July 2 VACEP – SA Team inside Kunstplass 10 gallery, Oslo. From L-R:  Lerato Dumse (journalist), Christie van Zyl (Poet/ Writer), Lindeka Qampi (Photographer), Muholi (Visual Activist) and Collen Mfazwe (Photographer). Photo by Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty


2015 June 30 VACEP exhibition poster

2015 June 30 VACEP exhibition poster


Previous article by Collen


2015 June 19: Travelling to another country is not the same as travelling to another province




2015 June 9: The love that will never be replaced




This entry was posted in Archived memories, Creating awareness, Exhibition, From Johannesburg to Oslo, Power of the Voice, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 2015 July 8: Reflections of co-organising an exhibition

  1. TAJ says:

    This is wonderful, your work is wonderful. It’s a pity that the exhibition is not local. Kudos. You’re all amazing 🙂

  2. Pingback: 2015 June 30: South African Visual Activists Documenting Oslo | inkanyiso.org

  3. Pingback: 2015 Aug. 8: Celebrated my late sister’s life | inkanyiso.org

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