As South Africa’s top contest for emerging creatives, it’s no wonder that many of the entries to the annual PPC Imaginarium Awards tend to touch on social and political issues. This tendency makes it fitting to display the finalists’ innovative concrete pieces in the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Art Gallery, which, according to curator Annali Dempsey, “promotes the importance of visual art as a vehicle for reflecting social constructs and debates.”
We are thrilled to welcome Dempsey back as a judge of the national finalists of the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards. Dempsey’s many years in the arts make her invaluable to the judging process, having curated UJ Art Gallery for over two decades.
Dempsey’s career reflects her deep desire to encourage the arts and creative industries in South Africa. “The satisfaction derived from facilitating artistic endeavours is priceless,” she says, adding: “It is a rare privilege as a curator to encounter artists/writers/performers sensitive to the challenges of our time and to be surrounded by intellectuals, unconventional individuals and movers and shakers belonging to this unique tribe.”
“Our artists generate energy (be it negative or positive) and do not show fear to voice their sentiments. They are finely tuned to the relationship between local events and the greater global consciousness.”
Dempsey’s talent as a curator is evinced by her staunch commitment both to the arts, on one hand, and her vision for South African art, on the other. In the first fifteen years of her career as curator of the UJ Art Gallery, Dempsey sought to curate ten annual exhibitions. In more recent years she has turned to producing bigger showcases six times a year. Featured exhibitors are required to promote “dialogue and debate on social and cultural matters”.
Among the finalists of this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards are countless works that critique South Africa’s fraught history of injustice, oppression and marginalisation – pieces that are sure to catch Dempsey’s attention as both judge and gallery curator.