Writer-Researcher, ArtBankSA and University of Johannesburg
Ashraf Jamal is the Writer-researcher for ArtBankSA, and a research associate in visual art and design at the University of Johannesburg. He has taught at universities locally and abroad the spheres of cultural studies, art history, performance, anthropology, and comparative literature. Jamal is the co-author of Art in South Africa: The Future Present and co-editor of Indian Ocean Studies: Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives. He is the author of Love themes for the wilderness, The Shades, A million years ago in the nineties, Predicaments of culture in South Africa, IN the World: Essays on Contemporary South African Art, Strange Cargo: Essays on Art, and Looking into the mad eye of history without blinking. Cataract: Essays on Abstraction is forthcoming.
Heba El Kayal is a curator, writer and researcher from Cairo, Egypt. Heba gained a bachelor’s degree in English and comparative literature from the American University in Cairo, and a master’s degree in modern art history and curatorial studies from Columbia University in New York City. She is in the process of submitting a dissertation for an LLM Legal Studies and Legal Practice degree in England, examining a topic related to the intersection of art and law. She has worked in various art-related capacities in Dubai, Beirut, New York, and London, amongst other cities, specializing in modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa. Heba has, over the course of her career, regularly consulted for auction houses and private collectors, working closely with both emerging and established artists from the region.
Independent Exhibition Curator and Contemporary Art Consultant
Marie-Ann Yemsi is an independent curator and contemporary art consultant based in Paris. A graduate in political science, she has developed a recognised expertise in cultural production and art consultancy, with a particular focus on contemporary artists from Africa, its diasporas and the Caribbean. Artistic Director of the 11th edition of the Bamako Encounters - African Biennial of Photography in 2017, she has curated numerous international exhibitions for public and private institutions in France and abroad. Marie-Ann Yemsi is a member of the Board of Directors of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and of the acquisition commission of the Cnap, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, a public institution under the French Ministry of Culture dedicated to expand and manage France’s national contemporary art collection.
Founder & Director, Institute for Creative Repair
Ngaire Blankenberg is the founder and director of the Institute for Creative Repair- a new initiative that is working to repair individuals, communities, institutions and cities, through arts, culture and heritage. Previously, she was the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (NMAFA) from 2021-2023.
Under her leadership, Ngaire began transforming NMAFA into a 21st Century Global African Art Museum with a vision to contribute to more regenerative art ecosystems, underpinned by African philosophies. She was instrumental in issues of restitution; in her first year as director, she led the Smithsonian’s efforts to return the ‘Benin Bronzes’ in its collections back to Nigeria and was co-lead in the pan-Smithsonian Collections Stewardship Strategic Initiative.
Writer, Editor and Curator
Sean O’Toole is writer, editor and curator based in Cape Town. His books include the biography Irma Stern: African in Europe – European in Africa (2021) and short story collection The Marquis of Mooikloof and Other Stories (2006). He has edited three volumes of essays, including African Futures (2016) and The Journey (2020). His essays have appeared in monographs by, among others, Michael Armitage, David Goldblatt, Gareth Nyandoro, Brett Seiler, Penny Siopis and James Webb. He is a past editor of Art South Africa (now Art Africa) and co-founded the urban-affairs magazine Cityscapes. A working journalist principally focussed on art, photography and architecture, he has published well over 1000 news articles, reviews, features and commentary in print and online. His recent curatorial projects include Congress (2021) at Norval Foundation and Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! (2022) at A4 Arts Foundation. He has adjudicated numerous awards, including the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, Daimler Award for South African Photography and Frieze Writer’s Prize. He is the founder of independent publisher Extemporary Press.
2022 & 2023 Judges
Art historian, writer and curator.
Since 2010, Elliot has been the Artistic Director of biennales of contemporary art in Sydney, Kiev, Moscow and Belgrade and is currently working freelance as a writer and Curator.
Janine Gaëlle Diedji
Janine is a multilocal exhibitions maker and producer, cultural activist and a cultural gardener living between Florence, Paris and Marrakech.
Chief Executive and Director,Design Museum, London
Formerly Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts and Director of Exhibitions at White Cube, Marlow has been involved in the contemporary art world for the past thirty years as a curator, writer and broadcaster.
Independent exhibition curator and contemporary art consultant
Born in Germany to German and Cameroonian parents, Yemsi is a political science graduate who lives and works in Paris. Through Agent Créatif(s), her own agency, Yemsi has developed a renowned expertise in cultural production and art consulting.
Past Judge: Khanya Mashabela, curator at A4 Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa