Dr Kim Gurney worked for ACC as a Research Associate for over a decade (2011-2022). During this time, she led various projects at the intersection between contemporary art, public space and city futures that resulted in three single-author books which are also emblematic of her research curiosities. Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa (Motto, 2022), August House is Dead, Long Live August House – The story of a Johannesburg Atelier (Fourthwall Books, 2017) and The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Kim’s key research projects during her affiliation at ACC were:

  • Platform/ Plotform, which surfaced the key working principles of independent art spaces in different African cities (Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam) and their relevance for institution-building more generally, as well as their role as urban indicators operating in conditions of accelerated flux. The participant spaces were: GoDown Arts Centre, ANO Institute for Arts & Knowledge, Townhouse Gallery, Zoma Museum, and Nafasi Art Space;
  • August House, which followed artworks and their makers, as well as the caretakers, of an innercity Johannesburg building (former textiles factory turned atelier) in existential limbo as vectors of a larger story about urban transformation and its entanglements; &
  • Reflecting upon New Imaginaries, a Goethe-Institut trilogy of projects involving independent curatorial explorations of public space in Johannesburg via walking, gaming and performance art; her resulting monograph The Art of Public Space posited an idea of common space instead – contested, negotiated and performed every day anew.

Kim also participated in a substantial collaborative project City Futures, with private and public sector participants in communities around the country, that re-imagined neighbourhoods to 2030; the ACC team took a leading role in methodology and assembling the synthesis report on this futures thinking experiment.

During her affiliation term, Kim organised a symposium in Johannesburg (‘New Imaginaries/ New Publics’), a workshop in Cape Town for Platform/ Plotform research findings, presented seminars and conference papers, held public events and book launches, contributed various journal articles, long-form essays in Cityscapes and other media, delivered public talks, guest lectures and overseas keynotes, participated in panel debates, workshops and symposia, and internally in reading groups and related ACC programmes. Some of these contributions are recorded on ACC’s website; otherwise contact Kim directly for more information.

Kim is currently based at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, where she continues her investigation of ‘offspaces’ as sites of counterfactual imagination — independent art spaces, artisanal workshops, and backroom archives. She generally aspires in her work to read against the grain for lesser known narratives and voices that may be sidelined or obscured. Her own art practice, from a Salt River studio, largely concerns disappearances of different kinds and making restorative gestures. She has held two solos, participates on group shows, and collaborates curatorially including via guerilla gallery (b.2012), a nomadic platform. Kim is busy with her fourth book, Flipside – The Inadvertent Archive (iwalewa books).

More info:

Contact: kimjgurney[at]

PHOTO | Daleen Nel Hall


Selected recent publications:

Orcid ID: