Terry Kurgan is an artist and writer based in Johannesburg.
She works across a broad range of media, from drawing, writing, printmaking and photography to enlisting public participation in her production processes. Kurgan’s artistic interest is in photography: in the complex nature of photographic transactions, and in how photography acts in the world. Her projects have been sited in spaces as varied as a maternity hospital, a public library, a popular Johannesburg shopping mall, an inner city park and a prison.
Kurgan received her BAFA from the California School of Arts in San Francisco, her MFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, and her MA in Creative Writing from Wits University in Johannesburg. She has exhibited and published broadly and been awarded numerous prizes, including the FNB Vita Art Prize (2000), Business Day/Business Art South Africa awards (2007, 2009), a Puma.Creative Mobility Award (2010), and the Mbokoda Photography Award (2012). The Hotel Yeoville project was shortlisted for the 2012 International Award for Excellence in Public Art (IPA).
Selected recent exhibitions and projects include: Collaboration. A Potential History of Photography. A project by Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, Leigh Raiford, and Laura Wexler (2018); Nine Urban Biotopes: Negotiating the Future of Urban Living, exhibition, project and artists’ residency, Berlin, (2014); Public Intimacy: Art And Other Ordinary Acts In South Africa, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) 2014; Sharp, Sharp Johannesburg, La Gaite Lyrique, Paris (2013); Interrogation Series: Hotel Yeoville, Storefront For Art and Architecture, New York, NY (2013); Public Art/Private Lives, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg (2013); Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the V & A Museum, London (2012).
Everyone is Present—her first work of creative non-fiction—was published in November 2018. It won the 2019 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, which is the premier South African prize for non-fiction written in English, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles Book Prize (in the Photo-Text category). Her previous books are Johannesburg Circa Now, co-edited with Jo Ractliffe (2005), and Hotel Yeoville (2013). Kurgan has also published many essays on vernacular photography and public-sphere art practice in books and academic journals.
Terry is editor and partner (with Bronwyn Law-Viljoen) of the Johannesburg based publishing project Fourthwall Books. She is also a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at Wits University where she is researching and writing a new work of creative non-fiction.