05 – 30 AUGUST 2023 

“Being and Becoming: A Celebration of 150 Years of UNISA” is an exhibition that examines the profound concepts of being and becoming within the context of UNISA’s rich history and its commitment to transformative education. Inspired by the philosophical insights of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s “A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia,” (1987)1 this exhibition offers a thoughtful exploration of the dynamic interplay between permanence and transformation and the potential for growth and change.

Siopis Penelope, Pastime, 1992, Hand Coloured StoneLithograph

In line with UNISA’s 150th celebration motto, “Reclaiming and Reimagining Africa’s intellectual futures,” the exhibition introduces the metaphor of the rhizome as a means to visualise a non-hierarchical, interconnected system of thought. Numerous artworks from the UNISA Art Collection are juxtaposed against each other, inviting the exploration of notions such as identity, multiplicity, fluidity, and interconnectedness. The exhibition embraces the rhizomatic nature of the UNISA Art collection by defying fixed identities and ideas and celebrating the diverse experiences and ideas that have shaped the 150-years history of UNISA, while also envisioning new intellectual futures through art and technology for the continent and beyond.

Through the selected artworks, the exhibition highlights the interconnectedness of UNISA’s journey with that of its students, faculty, and the broader community. It also emphasizes the significant role played by the Department of Art and Music, the UNISA Art Gallery, and the UNISA Art Collection within UNISA’s 150 years of unwavering commitment to education and the pursuit of knowledge. By visually exploring and challenging traditional notions of identity, knowledge, and power, the exhibition encourages viewers to engage with multiple perspectives and possibilities.

The creative expressions in the selected artworks capture the essence of becoming—a continuous evolution and transformation that transcends fixed identities. By engaging with the diverse perspectives and possibilities presented, the exhibition further encourages a comprehension of different paths of becoming, while remaining mindful of the present and embracing the complexity and diversity of the past and present.

As Deleuze and Guattari assert, becoming cannot be understood as mere imitation or regression (1987:239), but rather as a dynamic process exemplified by a growing rhizome similar to the UNISA Art Collection that continues to expand. The selected artworks, acquired through acquisitions and donations, embody a spirit of invention and progress, evoking a sense of constant motion and potentiality.

The exhibition, “Being and Becoming: A Celebration of 150 Years of UNISA,” aims to inspire dialogue and reflection on the various journeys of becoming presented in the works, prompting viewers to explore the intersections between being and becoming as UNISA continues to nurture a community of learners who are constantly evolving and adapting to an ever-changing world.

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