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Meet the Judges - Raimi Gbadamosi, 2018

UP Professor of Fine Arts Raimi Gbadamosi joins the judges of this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards. The esteemed artist and curator shared his thoughts about the state of the arts in South Africa.


  • You are currently on several boards for esteemed artists, scholars and researchers. You have also written essays and appeared on programmes throughout Africa, Europe and Scandinavia. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Being able to keep at it. This moment, this is the highlight.


  • What challenges does one face as an artist in the South African art industry?

The phrase “you are only as good as your last show” defines the realisation that artists need to keep on making and exhibiting their works to make sense of their own practice. It is the inability of many artists to make the works they imagine, and when they do make the work, the inability to exhibit. If they are fortunate, or have good press agents, their exhibitions will not be ignored. These are the major challenges that artists face in South Africa. These challenges can be listed as limited funding, limited exhibition venue types and, crucially, limited critical engagement. These limitations have the consequence of moulding artists into ‘types’ that generate work to meet preset requirements. Genuine broad-based support for artists that acknowledges the possibility of failure might be a good beginning. Appreciating that artists need time, space, community and resources to produce good work should have some impact on the ideas of what the resourceful choose to do when they consider supporting the arts.


  • Who (or what) has inspired you most as an artist/writer/curator? Why?

My many cultural and critical ascendants, and they are too many to list. Nor would the list do anyone else any material good.


  • As a first-time judge, what insights will you bring to the 2018 PPC Imaginarium Awards?

A quintessential approach to the works submitted for the competition.


  • What tips do you have for the entrants of this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards?

Know that what you do is important, whether you win an award or not. Because of this knowledge, keep on making your work, keep on believing in yourself and remember that artworks always exist within a discourse.


  • How do you feel about the current state of the art industry in South Africa?

Akin to the hopes the troupe had on the way to see the Wizard of Oz.


  • Apart from the PPC Imaginarium, what platforms or avenues contribute to the growth of art and design in South Africa?

The belief that artists have in themselves.


  • How is art shaping South Africa in terms of the social, cultural and political landscapes?

The real production and consumption of artworks is not by the majority of the nation. It is only when this claim can be made honestly that one can imagine that artworks shape social, cultural and political landscapes. That there are occasional public debates centered on myopic controversies does not do much shaping of ideological landscapes; however, they do bolster the tendency to be self-congratulatory.

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