ABOUT TERRY KURGAN

“MY PRACTICE IS ALWAYS ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY. EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT PHOTOGRAPHY, IT’S ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY.”

Terry Kurgan is an artist and a writer based in Johannesburg. Working across a broad range of media, from drawing, writing and photography to enlisting public participation in her production processes, her work emerges in the space between visual art and an engagement in the public sphere. Kurgan’s artistic interest is in photography: in the complex and paradoxical nature of photographic transactions. She explores this through a diverse body of artwork that foregrounds notions of intimacy, often pushing at the boundaries between ‘the private’ and ‘the public’ in the South African public domain. 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 inaugural Mbokoda Photography Award (2012). The Hotel Yeoville project was shortlisted for the 2012 International Award for Excellence in Public Art (IAPA).

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).

Kurgan’s recent publication Everyone is Present: Essays on Photography, Memory and Family, is her first work of creative non-fiction, and was published by Fourthwall Books in November 2018. Her previous books are Johannesburg Circa Now, co-edited with Jo Ractliffe (2005), and Hotel Yeoville, published by Fourthwall Books, Johannesburg (2013).

She is currently Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at Wits University, and at work on her next artist’s book object, a series of linked, narrative non-fiction essays that develop in relation to the evocative power of photographs as objects.

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