Beyond the Frame: Masterclass with Gabi Ngcobo 

Berlin 

As the Beyond the Frame and Diaspora Pavilion projects came to an end in the summer of 2018, ICF organised two final trips to Berlin and Liverpool to attend the Biennials happening in those two cities, and opened those trips up to both the artist and curator cohorts as a means of providing important moments of exchange between the two groups.

In June 2018, Michael Forbes, Libita Clayton, Annie Kwan, Sunil Shah, Lisa Anderson and Kasia Sobucka travelled with the ICF team to Berlin to see the Biennial and to meet with the Biennial’s curator Gabi Ngcobo to hear about her experience of producing one of the most discussed exhibitions of the year. 

Ngcobo’s Berlin Biennial was titled We Don’t Need Another Hero and purported to be less preoccupied with providing answers and more intent on raising questions. Ngcobo has been working as a curator in South Africa since the early 2000’s and for the Berlin Biennial brought together a group of diverse curatorial advisors from different countries with a range of interests and practices. Our masterclass with Ngcobo was only a few days after the Biennial had opened to the public and she was still processing all that had happened that week, but she spoke openly with the group about the decisions and difficulties that went into and resulted from choosing not to present ‘a coherent reading of histories or the present.’ Her curatorial interest in ‘different configurations of knowledge and power that enable contradictions and complications’ echoed the aims of the Diaspora Pavilion exhibition and her discussion of this approach was an important learning moment for the group. 

In addition to this masterclass, the group met with ICF’s colleague Axel Lapp, who is the Director of the MEWO Kunsthalle in Memmingen, and Bhavisha Panchia, who provided a tour of her exhibition For the Record at Ifa Gallery.