May 07, 2022 - August 31, 2022

NIROX Foundation presents Good Neighbours, an exhibition that extends its partnership with local universities to public and private institutions across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana to co-develop and present an evolving programme of exhibitions, residencies, workshops, talks, and a concert.

Following the successful inaugural OPEN LABORATORY Winter Sculpture Exhibition in 2017, NIROX has invited universities across the country to each appoint a curator to develop their own take on Good Neighbours, as well as private and public institutions in neighbouring states to submit contributions that examine the subject from their perspective. The result envisaged is a diverse conversation made cohesive by the guidance of NIROX’s curatorial team.


Held across NIROX Sculpture Park in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Good Neighbours provides a timely reflection on the relations amongst South Africans and our neighbours. The exhibition and its supporting programmes interrogate and encourage relations amongst South Africans and our neighbours to foster peace and commonwealth in the face of growing global instability.


One question posed by the exhibition has to do with the word ‘good’: What makes for a ‘good’ neighbour? And does neighbourliness not in itself suppose some kind of communal responsibility, some sense of shared space? Or is neighbourliness today more closely aligned to the view outlined in Robert Frost’s poem that ‘good fences make good neighbours’?


The three dictionary definitions suggest that a neighbour is someone who lives next door to, or in immediate proximity of, another. This is the most common definition, but it can also extend beyond the individual to encapsulate the relationship between communities or places — say, a neighbouring town or country. Neither suppose collegiality or compassion, yet the third definition—‘any person in need of one’s help or kindness’—speaks more directly to an underlying ethics that seems apposite within the context of this exhibition. 


Another productive avenue when considering the meaning of neighbourliness can be found in the word’s etymology. Broken down into its constituent parts — nigh (meaning ‘nearby, close together, adjacent’) and *bheue- (‘to be, exist, grow’) — the idea of neighbourliness seems to imply a certain relation that enables others the space and means to flourish. This understanding is also echoed in the isiZulu word for neighbour, umakhelwane, where -akha means ‘build,’ but the question posed by this exhibition remains: what is it that we want to build, and how can the various and divergent aspirations of a people best serve each other?


The exhibition supports the work of more than 30 artists, 24 of whom have received production grants from The Claire and Edoardo Villa Will Trust to produce new work that reflects on the given theme. Collaborating institutions include the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, Tshwane University of Technology, ELA-Espaço Luanda Arte, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and the National Gallery of Namibia. The exhibition is also supported by the Portuguese Embassy to South Africa.



Yusuf Essop (NIROX)

Sven Christian (NIROX)

Wilma Mutize (University of Johannesburg)

Genre Pretorius (University of Pretoria)

Tshegofatso Seoka (Tshwane University of Technology)

Tammi Mbambo (University of the Witwatersrand)

Lyrene Kühn-Botma (University of the Free State)

Jade Nair (University of Cape Town)


Realms of Existence is the presentation of sculpture installations of four distinguished alumni from the Tshwane University of Technology at the Nirox sculpture park, forming part of the 2022 Open Laboratory Winter Exhibition.

Realms of Existence emanates from notions of physical and spiritual migration and movement, where land is employed as a site of communality, and the sculptures erected are applied as an axis Mundi between the past, present, and future. Visually embracing the hermeneutics of varied belief systems and indigenous knowledge across the continent, the intuitively entrenched sculptures serve as interfaces that exist beyond the physical domain and our immediate senses. Through experiencing them, we are encouraged to meet ourselves and each other beyond the physical borders or boundaries of space, race, and ethnicity.

Through the erection of these sculptures, we are invited to cross thresholds with Paballo Majela, encounter Cow Hides with Cow Mash, and hold a Lekgotla with Caitlin Greenberg.

Paballo Majela visually narrates the crossing of borders by his ancestors; the Makholokoe from the Congo to southern Africa and into the realm where they are imagined as the Thaba- Bosiu Guardians who are invisible to the eyes in this realm. Cow Mash encourages an encounter with cowhides as embodiments of the cow’s sacrificial death, mediating between the living and the passed, and bridging neighbors of parallel worlds. Furthermore, through a collaboration between Ngwenya glass in Swaziland and the glass studio at The Tshwane University of Technology Caitlin Greenberg erects a glass material lekgotla that fosters transparency and offers a space to reflect, discuss, share knowledge, and exchange gifts.

From a predisposition of wars and bloodshed in the continent, the works propose a renewal of being based on peace, reconciliation, and progress birthed through varied realms of existence. The works act as reflections of the past from an all-inclusive perspective and negotiate possible futures where the varied sculptures serve as bridges to friendships, celebrations, illumination, healing, and mediation.





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