Kim is a Next Generation Scholar in the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Since 2011, she has also been affiliated as a Research Associate in the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town. Kim holds degrees with distinction in both fine art and journalism as well as a PhD exploring art as a vector of value. She is an interdisciplinary researcher who favours arts-based methods and different narrative forms.

Kim is currently leading three research projects that will all culminate in publications and visual research outputs: Platform/ Plotform explores the working principles of independent art spaces in selected African cities and how they correspond to the urban fabric; Green Screen is about the labour of imagination from the offscreen perspective of blue-collar artisans mostly linked to Cape Town’s film industry, anchored around the lifespan of a set built for a commercial; and an archival project explores the deeper significance of South Africa’s oldest nonprofit art space.

Artist's city walk, exploring Hillbrow through kwaito with Rangoato Hlasane.

New Imaginaries’ (2012)
Photo: K. Gurney

Recent Presentations

*[Forthcoming]. ‘Independent art spaces as urban indicators’, 10 December 2019. University of Leuven, Belgium. Cities in Development: Art in public spaces. Debate series on critical issues regarding cities of the global South, focusing in particular on how urban dwellers’ agency invents urban futures.
*From platform to plotform: Artistic thinking in spaces of flux’. Joint public session hosted by African Centre for Cities & Centre for Humanities Research. Venue: University of the Western Cape, Centre for Humanities Research, 28 May 2019.
*Foundation Lecture. Title: ‘The Art of Public Space’. Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT, 27 March 2019.
*Panelist at #Freespace: Places of Remembrance. Zeitz MOCAA, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Curated by Instinct with Zeitz MOCAA, V&A and UCT’s African Centre for Cities, 9 February 2019.
*Panel participant: Popular Culture & Urban Humanities. Talk title: ‘Independent art spaces as urban indicators’. CHCI African Humanities Workshop. Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts & Design, Ethiopia, 14 January 2019.
*Panel participant. Re-imagining as destruction and creation. Norval Art Foundation. Host: UCT’s Centre for Curating the Archive. Re-imagining Museums and Archives - a symposium, 30 November 2018.
*Opening address at ‘Researching Public Art’ conference. The Royal institute of Art, Stockholm. Hosted by Public Art Agency Sweden. Talk title: ‘Seeing pink elephants: Performing the city’, 11 October 2018. Available on Youtube
*Foundation Lecture at Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT. Title: ‘The Art of Public Space: Performing the Present’, 2 May 2018.
*Foundation Lecture at Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT. Title: ‘The Art of Public Space: Performing the Present’, 31 May 2017.
*Public Culture/ Cultural Policy & Leadership. Wits School of Art, Johannesburg. Posgraduate class lecture. Title: ‘Performing the Present’, 15 May 2017.
*Keynote address at ‘Being (in) Public: Encounters - Outside Place / Inner Space’. International Symposium. Belfast, Northern Ireland. Bbeyond in collaboration with Belfast School of Art at Ulster University. Talk title: ‘Performing the Present’, 5 April 2017.
*ArtSearch Symposium. The Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg. Presentation Title: ‘Tracked Changes - New Geographies, Old Histories’, 9-11 March 2017.
*Lecture to PhD class module: ‘Concepts, Theories and Experimental Practices in Art, Technology and Design’. Exploring Research Writing. Konstfack: Stockholm, Sweden. Lecture title: ‘Warp & Woof: Life & Death of and Atelier’, 18 May 2016.
*Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Study. Melville, Johannesburg. Writing Fellow. Seminar presentation title: ‘Warp and Woof: The Life and Death of an Atelier’, 30 April 2016. Download Abstract
*ECAS 2015: 6th European Conference on African Studies. Centre Sorbonne: Paris, France. Panel member: ‘Dead Monuments’, convened by Prof. Gavin Younge. Paper title: ‘The Disappeared: Missing Artworks Task Force’. This paper is focused upon the Cecil John Rhodes statue as case study, engaging the performative afterlife of dead monuments, 8-10 July 2015.
*’New Ethnographies of Johannesburg’. Symposium, Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (Wiser), Johannesburg. Presentation title: ‘From End to End: The Life and Death of an Atelier’, 12-13 August 2014. See Programme.
*Cities on the Move conference, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Conference Paper title: ‘Nomadic Notions: Art & The Uncertainty Principle’, 3 July 2013.
*Presentation. ‘Camo-Ammo: The Trickster Art of Refusal’. At: Thinking the City, part of Infecting the City public art festival: Cape Town, 15 March 2013.
*Keynote presentation. ‘Nomadic Notions: Footloose in a Fictive City’. Symposium: ‘New Imaginaries/ New Publics’ symposium. Hosted by ACC & Goethe-Institut: Johannesburg. See below for more information on symposium, 21 February 2013.

Recent events

*Cityscapes Praxis workshop, African Centre for Cities. A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town, 5-7 June 2019.
*CHCI Africa Humanities Workshop. ‘Africa as Concept and Method: Emancipation, Decolonisation, Freedom’. Addis Ababa University, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, Ethiopia, 2-19 January 2019.
*Transversal writing workshop, co-ordinated by Catharina Gabrielsson and Helene Frichot at KTH Architecture School. Swedish House, Kavalla, Greece. 2-5 July 2018.
*’Being in Public’. Performance art international symposium, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hosted by ‘Bbeyond & Ulster University, 6-8 April 2017.
*Transversal Writing Workshop, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden, 19 & 20 May 2016.
*Writing Fellowship. Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies (JIAS)](, University of Johannesburg. 15 February - 15 May 2016.
*Book launch discussion: ‘The Art of Public Space’. Respondents: Achille Mbembe with Molemo Moiloa, Tanya Zack & the author Kim Gurney, chaired by ACC Director Edgar Pieterse. At WiSER, University of Witwatersrand, 19 August 2015. Details online at WiSER
*ECAS 2015: 6th European Conference on African Studies. Centre Sorbonne: Paris, France. Panel member: ‘Dead Monuments’, convened by Prof. Gavin Younge. Paper delivered: “The Disappeared: Missing Artworks Task Force”. Key case study: Cecil John Rhodes statue and the generative, performative ‘void’ created by its removal, 8-10 July 2015.
*’Academy of Urban Super-diversity’. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Invited participant, April 2015.
*’Vernaculars of Multiplicity’. Closed workshop. African Centre for Cities, UCT, November 2014. Artistic Respondent - visit this link
*’New Ethnographies of Johannesburg’. Symposium. Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg. Presentation: ‘From End to End: The Life and Death of an Atelier’, 12-13 August 2014. See Programme.
*Themed panel at CUBES, University of the Witwatersrand: panel hosted with ACC colleagues Dr Jenny Fatou-Mbaye and Rike Sitas, with Mpho Matsipa, Thiresh Govender and Nontobeko Ntombela, 28 March 2014: ‘Hustling Scholarship for African urban public cultures’, part of SA Cities conference
*Panel participation for LAND, Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts, Michaelis, 22 November 2013. District Six Museum.
*’Cities on the Move: Mobilities and Sensibilities’. Conference, UWC. Paper: ‘Nomadic Notions: Art & The Uncertainty Principle - A Johannesburg Case Study’, 3-5 July 2013.
*’Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism’. International Workshop at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), Johannesburg. Selected participant, 23 June - 2 July 2013.
*’New Imaginaries, New Publics’ Symposium. Hosted at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. Organised by Kim Gurney (ACC), Johannesburg, 21 February 2013. Download programme; Download Rationale

Sole-authored books

Gurney, K. 2017. August House is Dead, Long Live August House! The Story of a Johannesburg Atelier. Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books.

This creative nonfiction book about Johannesburg tells the story of an innercity building during a time of transition. August House, a former textiles factory (b. 1946), functioned for a decade as an atelier but at time of writing had just been put up for sale and all its tenants had to relocate. The narrative is woven by following various artworks made in the building’s midst during this time of uncertainty and change, and their imbrication with a host of the building’s residents. It is a narrative of beginnings, endings and never-endings - a series of micro stories that tell a macro tale about what was ‘august’ about August House - or why art matters, and the seismographic role it plays in an ever-changing city like Johannesburg.
Information flier

The book is available from Fourthwall, Jacana, LoveBooks, The Book Lounge, Clarke’s Books.

*Johannesburg launch: Wednesday 27 September 2017 @ 18h00, Point of Order project space, Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein.
Speakers: Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall), Edgar Pieterse (Director: ACC), Graeme Gotz (Research Director: Gauteng City-Region Observatory] and key respondent Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato (academic and writer).
*Audio recording of all speeches at Johannesburg launch: Play or download here

*Cape Town launch: Friday 6 October 2017 @ 18h00, A4 Arts Foundation, Buitenkant Street, CBD.
Speakers: Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall), Premesh Lalu (UWC), Edgar Pieterse (ACC).
*Audio recording of all speeches at Cape Town launch: Play or download here

Gurney, K. 2015. ‘The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City’. London: Palgrave Macmillan

This academic monograph follows the manifestation of a trilogy of performative interventions in Johannesburg during 2012 that variously explored public space. Shoe Shop engaged public space through walking and ambulatory thinking, Amaze.Interact through gaming and ideas around playing the city, and Spines leveraged the city’s transport lines with two parallel performance art projects: United African Utopias took participants on a fantastical walk through the city with a narrative script that among other things employed pirate radio and costumed guides to re-imagine reality; and In House activated domestic and hybrid spaces of enclosure as common grounds of potential encouter. The book reflects upon this Goethe Institut project, New Imaginaries, in the context of the broader public sphere and puts forward ideas relating to the commons.

*Available at Palgrave, Amazon, and Nook.
*Chapters in Abstract form: Download.
*Preview feature by Michael Morris about ‘The Art of Public Space’ published in the Weekend Argus (21 June 2015)
*Review published by London School of Economics’ Kate Dawson (May 2016)
YouTube link to a short documentary commissioned by Goethe Institut on New Imaginaries

*Johannesburg launch: Wednesday 19 August 2015 at WiSER, Wits University, 18h00 with key respondent Prof. Achille Mbembe, writer, researcher and urbanist Tanya Zack, VANSA director Molemo Moiloa, moderated and introduced by Prof. Edgar Pieterse. Details online at WiSER.
*Book launch audio file of Edgar Pieterse, introduction - download here
*Book launch audio file of Achille Mbembe, respondent - download here
*Book launch audio file of Tanya Zack, respondent - download here

Gurney, K. 2019. The mattering of African contemporary art: Value and valuation from the studio to the collection. PhD diss., University of Cape Town.
Gurney, K. 1999. A Thesis on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. MA diss., City, University of London.

Journal articles

*Gurney, K. July 2018. Zombie monument: Public art and performing the present. In: Cities. Special issue - Urban Geography of the Arts. Guinard, P. & Molina, G. (Eds). Vol. 7, pp. 33-38. DOI Download pdf
This article reflects upon the performative afterlife of the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from University of Cape Town’s campus and its generative potential for recalibrating and re-imagining the public sphere.
On this topic, see also: ‘Performing the Present: The Second Life of Zombie Monuments: an article published in Art Africa
*Gurney, K. 07 Sep 2016. Warp and Woof: Stalking Art from End to End. Vol. 30 Issue 3. In: Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies. Issue 3: Art, ethnography and practice-led research, p. 411-427
This article follows artworks in the making in a Johannesburg atelier to engage broader issues of uncertainty and flux.
*Gurney, K. 2013. Sounding the City: Urban Performance in Johannesburg. In: Kunstforum International, Issue 223: 10/13—12/13, pp. 94-107
*Gurney, K. September 2013 (online); 05 November (print). Ethnography of a Flame. In: Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, 27(4), pp. 439-443
This article is an experimental piece of writing that combines media excerpts, artworks and social disruption that variously engage burning. It is told from the perspective of the flame.
*Gurney, K. 2012. The Fractured Public Interest In: Rhodes Journalism Review, Issue 32, p.8
*Gurney, K. 2012. Mzansi’s Golden Economy and performance art. In: The Johannesburg Salon, Volume 5, pp. 98-101
This article offers a critique of economic validations of the arts sector in broader creative economies discourse.
*Gurney, K. 2011. Doing Journalism: The shifting private-public axis and the rejuvenation of journalism ethics. In: Rhodes Journalism Review, Issue 31, pp. 33-34


*Gurney, K. 2017. Public Art Prospects in ‘Mzansi’s Golden Economy’. In: Public Art in Africa: Art and Urban Transformations in Douala - ebook. Edited by Iolanda Pensa with Marta Pucciarelli, Fiona Siegenthaler, Marilyn Douala Bell, Kamiel Verschuren, Xandra Nibbeling, Lucas Grandin, Asta Adukaite and Maud De La Chapelle. MetisPresses: Geneve.
*Gurney, K. 2016. ‘Remembering the Map: Prestwich Memorial’. In: Dobraszczyk, P. Garrett, B.L. & Galviz, C.L.(eds). Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London: Reaktion Books, pp. 97-99.
*Gurney, K. 2016. ‘Remaking the Map: Golden Acre, Cape Town’. In: Dobraszczyk, P. Garrett, B.L. & Galviz, C.L.(eds). Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London: Reaktion Books, pp. 186-189.
*Gurney, K. 2016. ‘Off the Map: Cape Town Tunnels’. In: Dobraszczyk, P. Garrett, B.L. & Galviz, C.L.(eds). Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within. London: Reaktion Books, pp. 227-230.
*Gurney, K. 2013. Abracadabra. In: E. Pieterse & A. Simone (eds). Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities. Auckland Park: Jacana, pp. 421-425
*Pieterse, E. & Gurney, K. 2012. Johannesburg: Investing in Cultural Economies or Publics?. In Anheier, H.K. & Y.R. Isar (eds) & guest editor M. Hoelscher, M. Cultural Policy and Governance in a New Metropolitan Age: The Cultures and Globalization Series (Vol. 5). London: Sage Publications. Chapter 17, pp. 195-203

Edited Books

*Van Graan, M. (ed). 2015. Stimie, M. and Gurney, K. (contributing eds.). South African Handbook on Arts and Culture. Cape Town: African Arts Institute

*Other - see Writing