Leora Farber graduated with a BA Fine Art, University of the Witwatersrand, 1985; MA Fine Art (Cum Laude) University of the Witwatersrand; and a DPhil Visual Art (Creative Production), University of Pretoria, 2013. She is currently Associate Professor in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg (UJ), where she holds the position of Director, Visual Identities Art and Design (VIAD) Research Centre (2007- ). She practices as an artist, writer, curator, and supervises MTech students and Post-doctoral Fellows.
Working within feminist and post-structuralist theoretical frameworks, my artwork from 1996-2004 focuses on female identity and subjectivity as gendered constructs in western discursive practices. My current research focus is on the articulation of postapartheid South African cultural identities in an ever-transforming postcolonial context, and possibilities that these emergent forms of selfhood open up for identity-making in South African visual-practice, -representation and -culture.These areas are realised in the major solo-exhibition of photographic, sculptural, installation, performance and video work titled Dis-Location/Re-Location (hereafter ‘Dis-Location’) (2007-2008) that forms the locus of my research from 2007-2014. It constitutes the practical component of my practice-led DPhil Visual Art (2013) and is the fulcrum of my doctoral thesis.
Dis-Locationis a genealogical-theatrical enactment of familial histories of diasporic displacement and colonial legacies that shape my position as a white, middle-class, second generation,English-speaking South African woman. I enact my colonial history through the historical figure of Bertha Marks (1862-1934), an English immigrant to southern Africa in 1886; diasporicfirst generation experience is portrayed through my mother, Freda Farber (1932-), a Jewish immigrant from Latvia in 1935, and myself (1964-). Although there are marked differences between their colonial, diasporic and postcolonial contexts, the three personae’s displacements are linked by disjunctures of identity arising from dislocation and relocation and the transmutations in subjectivity these processes evoke. While it is associated with trauma and conflict, displacement is also seen as a generative space for new, hybridised identities and/or alternate constructions alterity arising from processes of cultural contact and exchange.
I have published articles in numerous academic journals such as Critical Arts, Image & Text and Cultural Politics, andpresented papers at national and international conferences, often as an invited keynote speaker.I have edited three volumes: Johannesburg and megacity phenomena (VIAD, 2008); Imaging ourselves: visual identities in representation (VIAD, 2009) and On making: integrating approaches to practice-led research in art and design (VIAD, 2010), as well as special editions of the journals Image & Text and Critical Arts. Iserve on the editorial board Critical Arts as well as faculty and university committees.I peer-reviewfor the international journals Body, Theory and Society; Cultural Politics; Theory, Culture and Society and Critical Arts, as well as the South African journals Image and Text and De Arte, and am a subjectarea specialist to Critical Arts for Practice-Led Research(PLR) based articles.
My solo exhibitions total 8 in South Africa and 1 in London;I have shown on numerous group exhibitions in South Africa and internationally (London, Atlanta, Berlin). My artwork is housed in the following corporate and institutional collections: Sanlam; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Sasol Wax; Unisa; MTN Digital Art Institute; Tatham Art Gallery; Gertrude Posel Art Gallery; Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR); Pretoria Art Museum; Oliewenhuis Art Gallery; and Pretoria Technikon. I have been the recipient of National Research Foundation (NRF)Thuthuka (2009-11) doctoral funding and Institutional Research Development Programme Niche Area (2005-2010) grants, and UJ University Research Committee (2005-2008); National Arts Council (2005-2006) and UJ FADA Faculty Research Committee (2005-2006) funding. Awards include the Competitive Award for International Liaison, TWR Committee for International Affairs (2003); Dean’s Award for Best Researcher, TWR FADA (2003); TWR Fellowship for Overseas Travel 2002, 1996) and the Ernest Oppenheimer Award for Overseas Research (1996).
I serve on the editorial board of the IBSS-ranked journal Critical Arts (2013-) and on faculty and university committees. I peer-review for the international journals Body, Theory and Society; Cultural Politics; Theory,Culture and Society and Critical Arts, and South African journals Image and Text and De Arte. I have reviewed funding and rating applications for the NRF and Swiss National Science Foundation, and am frequently invited to review Creative Output submissions for national institutions. I am a subject area specialist to Critical Arts for PLR-based articles and consulting editor for an annual PLR-led special edition (2013-).
Selected research outputs 2006-2014
- Dis-Location/Re-Location. 2007-2008.
- The Albany History Museum, Grahamstown
- The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth
- The South African Jewish Museum, Cape Town
- The US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch
- The Oliewenhuis Gallery, Bloemfontein
- The Johannesburg Art Gallery
- The Durban Art Gallery.
- A Room of Her Own. 2006. Live performance and installation. The Premises, Johannesburg.
Selected group exhibitions
- 2012. Curated by Ann-Marie Tully & Jennifer Kopping. UJ Art Gallery.
- The Surface, the Underground and the Edges. 2011. Afropolis. Media. City. Art.Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne; Collaborations/Articulations.FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg; Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town.
- Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page. 2010. JS Gericke Library, Stellenbosch University; Gallery of the North-West University, Potchefstroom; FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg (catalogue).
- Second Skin. 2007. Curated by Ellen Lupton.Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei.
- Skin-to-Skin. Curated by Fiona Kirkwood.Textile 07 Kaunus Art Biennial, Lativa.
- Through the Looking Glass. Curated by Brenda Schmahmann. Albany History Museum, Grahamstown; King George VI Gallery, Port Elizabeth; Durban Art Gallery; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg.
Articles in subsidy bearing journals
- Farber, L. 2014. A voice of her own: speaking her narrative through pointure-practices.
- Image & Text 23:72-92. [O]. Available:
- Farber, L & Dreyer, E. 2012. The diary of Bertha Marks as a heterotopia as articulated in the artwork
- The Futility of Writing 24-page Letters.Literator 33(1):1-11 [O]. Available:
- Farber, L & Buys, A. 2011. Interstices and thresholds: the liminal in Johannesburg as reflected in the video programme, the Underground, the Surface and the Edges.
- Image & Text 17:86-101. [O]. Available:
- Farber, L & Buys, A. 2011. The Underground, the Surface and the Edges: a hauntology of Johannesburg. Art South Africa 10(2), December:62-63.
- Farber, L. 2010. Stepping out in hybrid style: re-negotiating and re-imagining identities in contemporary South African fashion design. Cultural economy in contemporary South Africa: consumption, commodities and media. Guest edited by S Narunsky-Laden. Critical Arts 24(1), March:128-167.
Chapters in peer-reviewed books
- Farber, L. 2014. Beyond self vs other. The other-as-stranger-within as imaged in the Who is Pinky Pinky series, in Trans-visuality – dimensioning the visual in visual culture, edited by HD Christensen, T Kristensen, A Michelsen& F Wiegand. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen (forthcoming June 2015).
- Farber, L. 2012. Integrating theory and practice in the Dis-Location/Re-Location project, in The art of research II. Process, results and contributions edited by M Mäkëla& T O’Reilley. Helsinki: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Dept. of Design:128-155.
- Farber L & Mäkëla, M. 2010. Exploring through practice: connecting global practice-led research approaches with South African production, in On making: integrating approaches to practice-led research in art and design, edited by L Farber. Johannesburg: Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre:7-18.
- Farber, L. 2008. Too close for comfort: alienation and displacement in the work of South African video artists, in Representation and spatial practices in urban South Africa, edited by L Farber. Johannesburg: Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre:116-131.
- Farber, L &Klopper, S. 2008. Bertha Marks revisited: Leora Farber in conversation with Sandra Klopper, in Dis-Location/Re-Location. Exploring alienation and identity in South Africa, edited by B Law-Viljoen. Johannesburg: David Krut publishing:11-25.
Conference papers presented
- Farber, L. 2014. (Keynote paper). Other criteria: a pragmatic look at peer-reviewing Practice-Led Researchbased writing. Paper presented at thePractice-led research writing roundtable, Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg, 30-31 January.
- Farber, L. 2014. (Keynote paper). Face to face: confrontation and provocation in ZaneleMuholi’sFaces and Phases Paper presented at the ZaneleMuholi colloquium, Dept. of Communication Science and the Institute for Gender Studies, Bamboo Hall, Kgorong Building, University of South Africa, Pretoria, 24 March.
- Farber, L. 2013. Cut from the same cloth: the maid, madam and maker in Mary Sibande’s figure of Sophie Ntombikayise. Paper presented at the Subversive stitch revisited. The politics of cloth symposium, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 29-30 November.
- Farber, L. 2013. Re-casting whiteness in the domestic sphere: the making of maids and madams in the sculptural work of Mary Sibande. Paper presented at the 3rd global conference, Images of whiteness −exploring critical issues, Oxford, United Kingdom, 22-24 July. Interdisciplinary.net.
- Farber, L. 2012. Learning to live with the new: addressing the other in contemporary South African representation. Paper presented at theChallenging institutional whiteness in postcolonial times conference, University of Leeds, Leeds, 10-12 September.
- Farber, L. 2012. (Keynote paper). Africanising Victorianism? Re(visioning) colonial legacies in Afropolitan fashion design and contemporary South African art. Presented at theWhatWearWhen conference, LISOF, Johannesburg, 4 October.
- Farber, L. (Keynote paper). Newfound freedom in the work of emergent black South African artists. Presented at In the seams.The aesthetics of freedom expressed conference, Centre for Historical Re-enactments, Johannesburg, 7-8 October.
- Farber, L. 2011. (Keynote paper). Negotiations: exploring interrelationships between sources and art in the exhibition Dis-Location/Re-Location. Presented at theDATA as Art-ART as DATA conference, Aalto University School of Art and Design, Helsinki, Finland, September 20-21.
- Farber, L. 2011. A disquieting strangeness: evocations of the uncanny in Penelope Siopis’sWho is Pinky Pinky? series. Paper presented at the3rd global conference, Strangers, aliens and foreigners, Mansfield College, Oxford, 27-29 September. Inter-Disciplinary.net.
- Farber, L. 2011. Untying the ties that bind her: re-negotiating personal and collective ideologies of gendered whiteness in fin-de-siècle and postapartheid South Africa. Paper presented at the1st global conference, Images of whiteness – exploring critical issues, Mansfield College, Oxford, 12-14. July. Inter-Disciplinary.net.
- Farber, L & Buys, A. 2011. The Surface, the Underground and the Edges. Paper presented at theSpace, ritual, absence: liminality in South African visual art conference, University of Johannesburg, 9-11 March and at the 1st global conference, Urban popcultures, Prague, Czech Republic, 8-10 March.
- Farber, L. 2010. Speaking through the body: responses to trauma in the exhibition Dis-Location/Re-Location. Paper presented at theSexuate subjects: politics, poetics and ethics conference, University of Central London, London, 3-5 December.
- Farber, L. 2010. Confronting or embracing the foreigner within? Hidden faces of identities, as played out in the art exhibition, Dis-Location/Re-Location. Paper presented at the 2nd global conference, Strangers, aliens and foreigners, Oriel College, Oxford, 20-22 September.
- Farber, L. 2009. Dis-Location/Re-Location: a case study of a practice-led research visual arts project. Paper presented at The art of researchII conference, Helsinki University of Art and Design, Helsinki, 24-25 November. Published in the peer-reviewed The art of researchII conference proceedings. Mäkëla, M (ed). 2010. Helsinki: University of Art & Design Helsinki:[Sp]. [O]. Available:http://tm.uiah.fi/tutpor/AOR2009/Farber_paper.pdf
- Farber, L. 2009. Dis-Location/Re-Location: exploring white displacement and alienation in postapartheid South Africa. Paper presented at theWhite spaces? Racialising white femininities and masculinities conference, University of Leeds, Leeds, 8-9 July.
- Farber, L. 2009. Cutting and stitching as transformative acts: creating new subjectivities in the exhibition Dis-Location/Re-Location. Paper presented at theCosmetic cultures: beauty, globalization, politics,practices conference, University of Leeds, Leeds, 28-30 June.
- Farber, L. 2009. Practice-led research in the Dis-Location/Re-Location Paper presented at theOn making: integrating approaches to practice-led research in art and design colloquium, Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, 15-16 October.
- Farber, L. 2008. Dis-Location/Re-Location: colonial and postcolonial narratives of white displacement in South Africa. Paper presented at theRe-orientating whiteness conference, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 3-5 December 2008.
- Farber, L & Tully, AM. 2012. Lichtenburg Flower and Medusa. Exhibition by Artist/Prof Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger, NIROXprojects, Arts on Main, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg, 13-29 August.
- Farber, L & Buys, A. 2011. The Underground, the Surface and the Edges: A Hauntology of Johannesburg. Afropolis. City. Media. Art.Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, Cologne, Germany, 21 January; Collaborations/Articulations, exhibition curated by Brenden Grey, FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 9-24 May; Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town, 15 June-2 July.
- Farber, L &Sey, J. 2011. Space, Ritual, Absence: Liminality in South African Visual Art. FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 10 March-1 April.
- Farber, L & Law Viljoen, B. 2011. Nothing is Missing. Installation by MiekeBal. Jozi Art Lab, Arts on Main, Johannesburg, 9-24 March.
- Farber, L &Meyerov, L. 2008. Too Close for Comfort: Belonging and Displacement in the work of South African video artists. FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, 10 March-1 April; Intermission, the Lister Building, Johannesburg, 11 April; Performing South Africa, Hebbel Am Ufer Theatre festival, Berlin, 18-27 September; Goethe Institute, Johannesburg, 28 November.