Donna Kukama is a Johannesburg-based multimedia artist working in video, sound, and performance. Predominantly performance-based, her work often presents itself as moments within reality that question the way in which histories are narrated, as well as how value systems are constructed. Through creating fleeting moments that exist between reality and fiction, her performances manifest through the unscripted participation of others, and often resist established “ways of doing”.

Kukama has presented work in various Museums internationally, including the Maison Rouge (FR), the Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp (BE), the New Museum (USA), and the Kunshalle Luzern (CH). She participated in the Lyon Biennale in 2013, the Biennale of Moving Images 2014 (CH), the 2015 New Museum Triennial, the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2015, and the Sao Paulo Biennale in 2016. Kukama was one of the selected artists to represent South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and is the 2014 recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art. Previous award nominations include the MTN New Contemporaries Award (2010), the Ernst Schering Award (2011), and the Visible Award (as NON NON Collective), 2011. Kukama is a member of The Center for Historical Reenactments (founded 2010. died 2012. haunted 2013. exorcised 2014. Musemified 2017). She is currently a faculty member at the WITS School of Arts (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg).

curriculum vitae

1981 Born in Mafikeng, South Africa


2005-2008 Postgraduate Degree in MAPS (Masters of Arts in the Public Sphere), Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, Sierre

2003-2004 B-Tech (Fine Arts), Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria

1999-2003 National Diploma in Fine Arts, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria

selected public interventions

Monument of Apologies, (Matonge) Brussels, Belgium

Play > Urban / Encounters, Strasbourg, France
The Air-State Urgency, St Denis, La Reunion

Trade Re-Routed, a collaboration with Anthea Moys, Jo’burg Art Fair & Jo’burg Fringe, Johannesburg
To U-Turn or to One-Way, Small Street, Johannesburg
Fr(a)gile, Alf Khumalo Museum, Soweto (by Center for Historical Reenactments), Johannesburg

It’s not business, it’s strictly personal, Museum Der Culturen, Basel, Switzerland
1998-2008 and I, in collaboration with Katrin Grögel, Archiv Performativ: Ein Modell, Ausstellungsraum Klingental
The Unknowing Grammar of inhabiting a Text (IV), Basel, Switzerland
Room 207 Tour, Hillbrow, during the Wide Angle Forum, Johannesburg

Black Money Market, during University of Basel 550 year Anniversary Celebrations, Basel, Switzerland
Like a Blind Man Looking for a Black Cat That Isn’t There, KZNSA Gallery, Durban

The Swing (After After Fragonard), as part of Art That Comes To You during The Spring Art Tour, Johannesburg
My piece of Gold, during the Urban Scenographies Festival, Johannesburg
The Silence of Protest, Johannesburg

The Red Socks, Ferme Asile, Sion, Switzerland
Little Boxes, L’Arsenic, Lausanne, Switzerland
“Pour moi, She is a wonder-woman”, sound intervention with students from the Collége de la Seymaz, Geneva, Switzerland

The Red Briefcase, Rue du Rothorn, Sierre, Switzerland
Treason 2, a collaboration with Joubert Park Projects, Sierre/Polokwane, Switzerland/South Africa
The Red Briefcase (Contact, Keys, Exit), Festival Points d’Impacts, Geneva, Switzerland

The Red Suitcase, 9th Elia Biennal Conference, Ghent, Belgium

selected performances

Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia
What we caught we threw away, what we didn’t catch we kept, Antwerp, Belgium

Museum of Non-Permanence, performance at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa

Concertual Recitals, Lausanne, Switzerland
If the past were to be postponed to the future, would this moment be a memory?, New Museum, New York
I Had A Dream, FundBuro, Mirages Festival, Lyon, France
The Fyootchar Kourt of Traded Justices, The Hague, Netherlands

What Happened in 2081? Center For Historical Reenactments, Johannesburg
To U-turn or to One-Way?, part of Shoe-Shop project, Johannesburg
Black and White flags, going up-and-down, Not No Place, Goethe Project Space, Johannesburg
The Chop-Shoppers, Jeppe str, Johannesburg
The Investment Bank of Elsewhere, Center For Historical Reenactments, Johannesburg
Cafe Exchange, Substation, WITS University, Johannesburg

It’s not business, It’s strictly personal, BLICK-WECHSEL-AUF-AUS-STELLUNG, Museum der Culturen, Basel, Switzerland
Performing Nowhere, during the FOCUS11 Symposium on Live Art, Basel, Switzerland

The Unknowing Grammar of Inhabiting a Text, performance with Kemang Wa Lehulere, Center for Historical Re-Enactments, Johannesburg
1000 Ways of Being (I am Absolutely Ending This!), South African National Gallery, Cape Town
1000 Ways of Being (The Museum Tour), South African National Gallery, Cape Town
1000 Ways Of Being (Opening Speech), Michael Stevenson Project Space, Cape Town

The Great South African Art Queue, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Mass Action Strike!, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
Heart of Darkness: Vol 1.1, Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg

Not Yet (and nobody knows why not), Nairobi, Kenya
Silang Mabele III, Hohlraum 11, Basel, Switzerland
Does a Snowball Have to be White?, Chateau Mercier, Sierre, Switzerland

Let Go II, L’Arsenic, Lausanne, Switzerland

Unity & Duality, performance with Katherine Oggier, Férme Asile, Sion, Switzerland
Silang Mabele II, The Container (FAC-ECAV), Sierre, Switzerland

Dieledi, The Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria

Curio, L’Alliance Français, Johannesburg
Breath, JAG, Johannesburg
Silang Mabele, Yugoslavian Museum of National History, Belgrade

Diketo, Potchefstroom National Arts Festival, Potchefstroom

selected exhibitions

Live Uncertainty, 32nd Sao Paulo Bienal, Brazil

About a work #7, Galleria Zero, Milan, Italy
The New Museum Triennial, New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, USA

Biennale of Moving Images 2014, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva, Switzerland
it’s all video, video, video, a screening of selected videos from the Emile Stipp Collection, curated by Rory Bester, THE BIOSCOPE, Johannesburg, South Africa
FAST FORWARD, a project curated by Olivia Anani, In partnership with Afrikadaa and Zajia Lab, Zajia Lab, Beijing, China
Don’t You Know Who I Am?: Kunst na Identiteitspolitiek / Art after Identity Politics / L’Art après la Politique de l’Identité, curated by Anders Kreuger and Nav Haq, M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium

This is the thing, blank projects, Cape Town
By Night Visual Arts Festival, Courant d’Arts, St Denis, Reunion Island
blank projects in Johannesburg, Ithuba Arts Gallery, Johannesburg
Imaginary Fact, South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale
Meanwhile…Suddenly and Then, 12th Biennale de Lyon
Xenoglossia, the Exhibition, Goethe on Main, Johannesburg
My Joburg, Maison Rouge, Paris
After-After Tears, New Museum, New York
23 Kilograms, Galerie West, The Hague

When Attitudes Become Form, blank projects, Cape Town
The Visible Screening Program: “Sharing Transformation”, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria
Machine Worries, Machine Hearts, blank projects, Cape Town
Where Dreams Cross, Art:Screen Festival, Orebro
Joburg, DONT/PANIC, Center For Historical Reenactments, Johannesburg
Exuberance Project Exhibition (representing CHR), Mandela Rhodes Gallery, Cape Town
SUPERMARKET Art Fair, Stockholm
EXTRASPECTIVE, Parking Gallery, Johannesburg
Dis/Play, Goethe On Main, Johannesburg
MINE, University of Johannesburg Gallery, Johannesburg
UNACCEPTABLE, blank projects, Cape Town

DON’T/PANIC at the Durban Art Gallery, coinciding with the UN Global Summit in Climate Change (COP17)

Xenoglossia (Representing CHR), Biennale de Lyon
CONNECTIONS, Kunsthalle Luzern, Luzern
MAP South Africa, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
Becoming-Animal, Goethe-Institut Gallery, Johannesburg
Mine: DUCTAC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and University of Johannesburg Art Gallery: A selection of films by South African artists including Dineo Seshee Bopape, Jacques Coetzer, Teboho Edkins, Simon Gush and Dorothee Kreutzfelt, William Kentridge, Donna Kukama, Nandipha Mntambo, Robin Rhode, Berni Searle, Lerato Shadi, Penny Siopis, Gregg Smith, Johan Thom and Michael McGarry. Curated by Abrie Fourie

Featuring Simplicity as an Irrational Fear, Michael Stevenson Project Space, Cape Town
MTN New Contemporaries Awards, KZNSA Gallery Durban
Contemporary Artists from South Africa, Gallery 3,14, Bergen
US (part of the exhibition 1910-2010: FROM PIERNEEF TO GUGULECTIVE), South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Hearts & Minds (Part of the Third Biennial Art History Symposium, Africa on My Mind: Contemporary Art, Home and Abroad), Hall Street Gallery, Savannah, USA
Arte InVisible, ARCO Fair, Madrid

Dada South? Exploring Dada legacies in South African Art 1960 to the present, South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Mapping The Blank Spots, Art Miami 2009
6 Stories/6 Hours/6 Artists, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
US, Johannesburg Art Gallery & Goodman Gallery Project Space, Johannesburg
On Screen:Global Intimacy, Krannert Art Museum, Illinois
Here and Now, during the 2nd annual Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg
Take Me to the River, DEPO, Istanbul Multipistes Parties, Meneer de Wit, Amsterdam

Pool of possibilities, Mapping Currents for the Third Ghuangzhou Trienniale (online
I will never W**k Alone in Chile, Traffixxx gallery, Santiago
Gast/Spiel, a fringe project during ArtBasel, held at Hohstraum 11, Basel
Archives Projects, L’arsenic, Lausanne Femme et l’Autorité, Villa Dutoit, Geneva
Scratching The Surface VOL 1, AVA Gallery, Cape Town

Positive:Pulse, Sun City, Rustenburg
Devénir-Animal, L’Arsenic, Lausanne
M.A.P.S en Cuenca, Universidad De Castilla-La Mancha (Facultad De Bellas Artes), Cuenca

Age of Hope, United Nations Gallery, Geneva
Visions d’Artistes, Dak’Art off Biennalé, Yassine Art Center, Dakar

Take Me to the River, The Pretoria Art Museum, Tshwane
TUT Graduate and Postgraduate exhibition, Franchise Gallery, Johannesburg

Young Vision: featuring 11 Most Promising South African Artists, L’Alliance Français, Johannesburg
Negotiate, Johannesburg Art Gallery
Geslag, Aardklop Arts Festival, Potchefstroom
Real Presence; Generation 4, Yugoslavian Museum of National History, Serbia

Telkom 100 years of Telecommunications, Telkom Centurion
Sasol New Signatures Competition, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria

selected collaborations

The Unknowing Grammar of Inhabiting a Text III, (NON-NON Collective), FOCUS 11, Basel
The Unknowing Grammar of Inhabiting a Text II, (NON-NON Collective), Johannesburg/Strasbourg
On Becoming-Animal, Sound Intervention in collaboration with João Orecchia, Mpumi Mcata and Tshepang Ramoba, Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg

The Unknowing Grammar of Inhabiting a Text (studio research), collaboration with Kemang Wa Lehulere, Center for Historical Re-enactments, Johannesburg

Chicken Hollywood, public intervention with Lerato Bereng & Linzi Lewis, Drill Hall, Johannesburg

“Pour moi, She is a wonder-woman”, sound intervention with students from the Collége de la Seymaz, Geneva

Treason 2, a public intervention in collaboration with JPP, Sierre
The Red Suitcase (rumor), performance at Festival Points d’Impacts, Geneva
Unity & Duality, performance with Katherine Oggier, Férme Asile, Sion


Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Performance Art 2014, South Africa

Shortlisted for the Visible Award, Italy
Finalist for the Ernst Schering Foundation Art Award, Germany
Finalist for the MTN New Contemporaries Awards, South Africa

Recipient of the Wyss Scholarship, Sierre, Switzerland


Jack Ginsberg (Artist Book Collection): Director, Ampersand Foundation New York

Telkom Art Collection, South Africa

South Africa Graskop Hotel, South Africa

essays + reviews

2014 ‘Monumental Experiences: Donna Kukama at NAF‘ by Mary Corrigall, Incorrigible Corrigall and the Sunday Independent

2014 ‘A Studio Visit with Donna Kukama’ by Layla Leiman, Between 10 and 5

2013 ‘Donna Kukama: Life is a Laughing Matter’ by Matthew Krouse, Mail & Guardian

2013 Selected as a Young African Artist (YAA) by Business Day’s Wanted magazine

2012 ‘Performance Art: Becoming Animal’ by Chris Thurman, Financial Mail

Artist CV courtesy of