Performance arts have long been underrepresented in South Africa, often overlooked due to the lack of financial benefits associated with hosting performance artworks in traditional gallery spaces. However, we recognize the profound role that performance plays in storytelling, idea presentation, and audience engagement on an intimate and impactful level.

In the past six years, The Melrose Gallery has been dedicated to hosting a diverse range of performance works that have been met with tremendous enthusiasm. From captivating poetry readings and moving collaborations with established and emerging performers such as Napo Masheane, Jessica Foli, Ulungile Magubane, Lebogang Mabusela, Helena Uambembe, Bongi Bengu, Monique Mrazek, Adejoke Tugbiyele and Banzii Mavuso to name a few.

Philiswa Lila presented two powerful performance artworks, one alone and the other with Ivukuvuku on issues relating to gender-based violence earlier this year. Last weekend we hosted the Blessing Ngobeni Award Exhibition which included two performance works presented by Neo Diseko and Kaylin Moosamy. In these performances we have witnessed the transformative power of performance.

Enkundleni, Pouring healing by Philiswa Lila and Luvkuvuku

We have acquired a second gallery in Melrose Arch, which will serve as a project space for exhibitions, activations, and performances.

Upcoming Events: In June, we are thrilled to present a digitally immersive experience exhibition by Cherné Africa, powered by Samsung. Cherné’s exploration of sustainability within an African ideology and the concept of Ubuntu will resonate deeply with audiences. This exhibition aims to highlight the interconnectedness of all beings and emphasize the importance of community and cooperation—a collective responsibility we all share in shaping a sustainable future.

From July 20th to 29th, we are partnering with Slindile Mthembu to present ‘Old Soul Waiting,’ an experimental, multi-disciplinary production that converges film, theatre, and visual art. Mthembu’s thought-provoking work delves into the misdiagnosis of ancestral calling as mental illness and invites audiences on a journey of spiritual awakening from Western and spiritual perspectives. The performance will be accompanied by an exhibition featuring collaborations between Mthembu and various visual artists, creating a truly immersive and engaging experience within the gallery space.

Continuing our commitment to amplifying diverse voices, August will see the return of an exhibition and performance programme curated by Ruzy Rusike for Womxn’s Month. This year’s concept will revolve around a combination of 2-dimensional works that will be joined by a collection of sculptural pieces as part of SculptX in September and October. This celebration of sculpture, now in its 6th year, is the largest annual sculpture fair in South Africa, shining a spotlight on the importance of this genre.

Supporting Performance Art: Performance art holds a unique place in South Africa’s history, transcending traditional artworks in its ability to captivate audiences and create lasting impressions. Unlike physical artworks that can be bought and sold, performances demand an environment that fosters their growth and recognition. At The Melrose Gallery, we are dedicated to creating a space where performance art receives the support and appreciation it deserves.

We invite talented performance artists to submit their proposals to, as we actively seek collaborations and partnerships to further elevate the medium of performance art. Together, let us champion the power of performance and contribute to the vibrant artistic tapestry of South Africa, honoring its past while shaping its future.

Cherné Africa, Ripples of Longing, 2023, Fine art paper, 60 x 42cm

Old Soul Waiting, Photo by Hymie Sokupha

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