MTN New Contemporaries Award winners

Iziko Museums of South Africa
12/15/2012 08:32:03

Collaborating artists Unathi Sigenu and Khanyisile Mbongwa were announced as the winning team for the MTN New Contemporaries Award 2012.

The award was given at the exhibition opening at the historic B Block, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, on 12 December 2012. The Cape Town-based artists jointly received R80 000 and other prizes, such as a Samsung Galaxy S3 each.

The three equally ranked runner-up groups were MADEYOULOOK (Nare Mokgotho and Molemo Moiloa), Mocke J Van Veuren and Farieda Nazier, as well as the trio Vaughn Sadie, Brian Mtembu and Humphrey Maleka. They walked away with R15 000 per collaboration as well as a Samsung Galaxy S3 each and other rewards.

This year the MTN New Contemporaries Award competition focused for the first time on artist collaborations rather than individual artists, acknowledging the current art trend towards relational and interdisciplinary working styles. This unusual decision on the part of the MTN SA Foundation was inspired by the MTN New Contemporaries Award 2012 guest curator Portia Malatjie, whose research results identified numerous young artists of excellence who had worked, or were working, together and wished to continue. Malatjie observes that: ‘It was inspiring to come across artists who acknowledged the benefits of working collaboratively towards a final creative product. I felt it essential to highlight the fact that these modes of artistic expressions exist, and have existed for a very long time’.

Says Robert Madzonga, Chief Corporate Services Officer at MTN: ‘As a competition designed to identify and promote young artists who are positioned to be the next leaders in the contemporary art sector it is imperative that this project, like its artists continues to be dynamic and able to accommodate contemporary modes and new technologies’.

The Castle of Good Hope has been the setting of an ambitious collaboration also between two organisations: the MTN SA Foundation and Iziko Museums of South Africa. ‘Iziko Museums of South Africa is proud to partner with the MTN SA Foundation on this innovative contemporary art project. The results of this exhibition tie in well with Iziko’s vision to engage with its audiences by providing spaces for young artists to collectively engage in the creation of art. The interpretations of these historic spaces are uplifting, inspiring and indicative of how museums remain relevant by providing platforms of engagement,’ says Rooksana Omar, CEO.

With the assistance of a large support crew from MTN SA Foundation, Iziko Museums of South Africa, as well as technicians, interns and others, the finalists have mounted an exhibition of video projections, installations, photographs, sculpture and performance art in B Block, an evocative and maze-like structure that is among the oldest remaining parts of the Castle. Says Iziko’s Lalou Meltzer: ‘With the MTN New Contemporaries Award 2012 it is an enormous pleasure to witness the return of contemporary art exhibitions to the Castle, after a lapse of some 14 years and to see how the artists, in 2012, have taken on the challenge of working in these spaces pregnant with the history of colonialism and equally demanding of interaction with their physicality.’

The development and installation of the artworks concluded with the adjudication session on 11 December, the day before the opening, where Khwezi Gule, Riason Naidoo and Nontobeko Ntombela deliberated for 5 hours on the finalists’ works. As their joint statement puts it, ‘What is unique about this show is that it recognises collaborative practice, and this was an insightful decision on the curator’s part. This year’s venue, the Castle’s B Block – a very historically charged and architecturally challenging site – presented the curator and artists with unique challenges. There was an array of media, from video animation to photography to performance installation. We were particularly impressed with the level of research on the part of the collaborations. The winning team’s installation confronts the brutal history of the space, yet provides new insights on lesser-known histories’.

The exhibition is open to the public from 13 December 2013 until 25 January 2013.

Interns will be hosting tours of the exhibition.

MTN SA Foundation is sponsoring free entry to the Castle on 13, 14 and 15 December 2013.


Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko) operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium, the Social History Centre and 3 collection specific libraries in Cape Town. The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections which reflect our diverse African heritage. Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation which brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.


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Media enquiries can be directed to Melody Kleinsmith at or Zenzele Bam at Account:
Melody Kleinsmith
Iziko Museums of South Africa
021 481 3861
073 107 4955
CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa