Kim is an experienced writer, former journalist and editor who now favours long-form narrative. She is currently focused upon researching and writing books.

Kim started her professional life as a journalist - first in local radio as a reporter, following her journalism degree (B.Journ with Distinction from Rhodes University). She went overseas to complete an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London. Her MA dissertation dealt with South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, looking at the media’s coverage of the TRC (underway at the time), and conflict reporting in general. Kim then joined Financial Times Business (FTB) group in various journalism roles which included managing a new online news service, and Reporter, then News Editor, of a weekly. She then freelanced for many years on a variety of topics and for a range of international publications, including as a stringer for the Africa bureau of Newsweek magazine.

Writing is central to Kim’s interdisciplinary work and she increasingly approaches publishing as artistic practice. She is widely published across genres and platforms, currently focused upon creative forms of non-fiction. Kim has published three single-author books, with a fourth on the way. She has a versatile writing range - from news to analysis, feature articles and profiles, to more reflective essays and academic texts.

Some writing samples:

*Gurney, K. 2022. After the fall: An Art of the Commons. In: Shuddhashar, Issue 27, February 1.
*Gurney, K. 2021. The mogul, his meerkat and the meerkat’s second life. In: e-flux Architecture. ‘Workplace’, a collaboration between between e-flux Architecture and the Canadian Centre for Architecture within the context of its year-long research project Catching Up With Life. Edited by Nick Axel, Albert Ferré, Nikolaus Hirsch, Megan Marin.
*Gurney, K. 2021. DIY institutions, artistic thinking and common space, Barcelona: CCCB.
*Gurney, K. 2021. Kicking Dust: Communal pathways as works of art,In Review, Editor: Keely Shinners.
*Gurney, K. 2020. Green Screen - A digital storymap of creative nonfiction that follows the life of a film set assembled for a commercial to tell a larger story about counterfactual imagination and city futures from the artisanal perspective of the workshop floor.
*Gurney, K. 2020. The second lives of zombie monuments. In: Africasacountry. This article is about the performative afterlife of the voided plinth of the toppled statue of Cecil Rhodes.
*Gurney, K. 2020. Artists help us leap into the unknown. In: Africasacountry. An article about how artists navigate uncertainty.
Gurney, K. 2019. From End to End. A Storymap of Viral Sculptures. This digital storymap (geolocation, visuals and text) follows the surprising trajectories of a series of star-shaped sculptures from a Johannesburg studio into private and public settings as part of a broader study on art as a vector of value.
*Gurney, K. November 2015. Re-imagining Africa’s Cities. In: Ogojiii, Issue 03, Nairobi and Johannesburg: Ogojiii, pp. 43-49.
*Gurney, K. December 2015. Performing the Present: The Second Life of Zombie Monuments. In: Art Africa, Issue 02, Cape Town: Bell-Roberts, pp. 14-17.
*Gurney, K. with photographer Sydelle Willow Smith. February 2015. The Doppelgangers. In: Cityscapes, Issue 6. Download printed article pdf or access the website version. This article, about Hasan and Husain Essop, successful fine art photographers who collaborate together and take Cape Town as part inspiration for their fine art photography practice, shows the close imbrications between space, identity, politics, and imagination in a city where spatial inequality is still a defining feature. The article was written for an ACC exhibition about Cape Town, City Desired.
*Gurney, K. with photographer Sydelle Willow Smith. February 2015. The Conservationist. In: Cityscapes, Issue 6. This long-form nonfiction piece profiles Luzann Isaacs, who manages an ecologically sensitive urban wetland park in a most unlikely setting - surrounded by industria, a township, and a freeway, and notorious for neighbouring Cape Flats ganglands. Most strikingly, it has no fence and must negotiate its presence with dialogue and reciprocity justifying its value and indigenous knowledges. This article formed part of a series for a multimedia exhibition by ACC on Cape Town, City Desired. In: Cityscapes, Issue 6. Download printed article pdf or access the website version.
*Gurney, K. with photographer David Harrison. 2014. Edge Design: Urban form and social change in Khayelitsha and Dunoon, reflected upon through the issue of sanitation.. In: Cityscapes. Issue No. 5, pp. 34-49.
*Gurney, K, with photographer Delwyn Verasamy. Winter 2012. A Visionary Statement, reportage on the contested notion of Johannesburg as a ‘world class city’, a behind-the-scenes take on where such notions come from and what they might mean. In: Cityscapes, Issue 2, pp. 56-71.
*Gurney, K. 15 January 2012. Muted Tones: the evolving life of distressed musical instruments. This article takes inspiration from damaged musical instruments, largely pianos, reconfigured into surprising and unforeseen second lives. In: CCTV, a zine for local ideas in global practice. Vol 1. no. 1 Launch Issue, August 2012. Rangoato Hlasane (curator): Johannesburg. Download. Originally published as Life of a Piano in Sunday Independent.
Gurney, K. 2012. The Fractured Public Interest. In: Rhodes Journalism Review, Issue 32, p.8.
*Gurney, Kim, with Scott Johnson. Digging up the Dirt. Investigative news feature on the search for South Africa’s politically ‘disappeared’ - Newsweek International.
*Gurney, K. September 2011. The shifting private-public axis. In: Rhodes Journalism Review, No. 31.
*Gurney, K. Sep 2006. James Webb: Take nothing for granted. In: Business Day Art Supplement, p.14.
*Gurney, K. Sep 2006. Peter Clarke: The poetry and music of everyday. In: Business Day Art Supplement, p.13.

The graffiti shadow of the toppled statue of Cecil John Rhodes at UCT campus. Its performative afterlife is the subject of an ongoing research project of mine, reflected in various articles above. A visual essay and accompanying text is also published in ‘Panya Routes’ (2022), titled ‘Common space: After the Fall’. Photo: Kim Gurney

Book corner

Flipside: The Inadvertent Archive. Johannesburg, Lagos & Frankfurt: iwalewabooks (2024)

Available internationally - physical and e-book - from iwalewabooks
Available in South Africa from AVA Gallery
Launch details coming soon!

Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa. Berlin & Geneva: Motto Books (2022)

Available internationally via Motto Books and In South Africa only, Karavan Press is a local distribution partner - book available at proto~ at A4 Arts, Clarke’s Books, Book Lounge, more to come. Please ask your independent bookstore to source from Protea Distributors.

The Cape Town launch was hosted at A4 Arts Foundation on 11 August 2022, the author in conversation with Neo Muyanga.

Panya Routes’ is the result of a four-year research project Kim conceived at UCT’s African Centre for Cities, Platform/ Plotform, into the working principles of independent art spaces in five fast-changing cities: Nairobi, Accra, Cairo, Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam. The research method made correlations between art and the urban everyday and found shared ideas around horizontality, second chance, performativity, elasticity and convergence.

In short, the resulting book is about DIY institution building as artistic practice, or ‘doing things with art’. It considers how independent spaces deal with uncertainty and flux, and what other institutions can glean from long-standing platforms built for purpose not profit. It also reflects upon how these platforms act as urban indicators and as vectors of futures thinking. For researchers, there is a section on method and a collation of some allied texts on the subject matter.

The key spaces that participated were: GoDown Arts Centre, ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge, Townhouse Gallery, Zoma Museum and Nafasi Art Space. The book includes maps designed by Bella Knemeyer that situate these spaces in their urban context, some fieldwork visuals by the author, and a visual essay. The graphic design of the book is by Márcia Novais and it is edited by Mika Hayashi Ebbesen.

  • Photo by Jonx Pillemer, courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation

  • Launch of Panya Routes
    Launch of Panya Routes

    Photo by Jonx Pillemer, courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation

  • Neo Muyanga & Kim Gurney
    Neo Muyanga & Kim Gurney

    Photo by Jonx Pillemer, courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation

  • Launch of Panya Routes
    Launch of Panya Routes

    Photo by Jonx Pillemer, courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation

“This beautifully crafted book represents a new generation of scholarship, bringing together the fields of urban studies and art history. While cities and urbanization are themselves formal manifestations of the intersections across economy, politics and aesthetics that define modern life, the role of creative practice as a form of sociality is under theorized. Kim Gurney explores that role in the making of new urban societies in the Global South. She shows how Panya Routes or ‘backroad infrastructures’ that define Southern cities are neither temporary nor epiphenomenal but rather major forms for the formation of collective solidarities. A much-needed volume, it explores the emergence of new institutions as themselves a genre of art. This book is a tour de force of creative research and writing and should inform and serve the next generation of urban scholars with a new vision of how contemporary forms of art making and creative performance have become an integral part of the infrastructure of social and political life in the twenty-first century.”
Vyjayanthi Rao, Senior Editor of the journal Public Culture, and Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture

“In an engaging analysis of five African independent art spaces, Kim Gurney convincingly highlights the powerful artistic and political potential of such autonomous art initiatives: to formulate novel propositions that creatively engage with the continent’s varied social realities; to redesign its material realities; to innovate the contents of what constitutes its public spheres; and to generate imaginings of alternative futures that bypass the tired discourses and practices of institutionalized political levels in order to embrace more inclusive and collective modes of living together. ‘Panya Routes’ is an original, hopeful and timely reflection on the role of public art to rethink urban worlds in Africa and beyond.” Filip De Boeck, co-author of ‘Suturing the City. Living Together in Congo’s Urban Worlds’

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

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. Book launch flier pdf

A digital storymap, ‘From end to end’, visualises this book through geolocation, images and text. The storymap closely follows one of the book’s storylines: the journey of a series of artworks created by Gordon Froud, Cone Virus, travelling from place to place as vectors of artistic thinking. It also elaborates upon the book’s formal and conceptual architecture.

The book is available from The Book Lounge, Love Books, or by request from South African independent bookstores which can order the book via Protea Distributors.
More information on third-party distribution with Karavan Press here.

  • Mbongeni Buthelezi in his August House studio
    Mbongeni Buthelezi in his August House studio

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

  • Gordon Froud in his August House studio
    Gordon Froud in his August House studio

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

  • Gibson Khumalo at his August House office
    Gibson Khumalo at his August House office

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

  • Power Mazibuko at August House
    Power Mazibuko at August House

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

  • Jacki McInnes in her August House studio
    Jacki McInnes in her August House studio

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

  • Bie Venter in her August House loft
    Bie Venter in her August House loft

    Photo: Anthea Pokroy

The Johannesburg launch took place on Wednesday 27 September 2017 @ 18h00, Point of Order project space, Jan Smuts Avenue, Braamfontein. Audio recording of all speeches: Play or download here. Speakers: Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall), Prof. Edgar Pieterse (Director: ACC), Graeme Gotz (Research Director: Gauteng City-Region Observatory) and key respondent Dr Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato (academic and writer). The Cape Town launch took place on Friday 6 October 2017 @ 18h00, A4 Arts Foundation, Buitenkant Street, CBD. Audio recording of all speeches at Cape Town launch: Play or download here. Speakers: Terry Kurgan (Fourthwall), Prof. Premesh Lalu (UWC), Prof. Edgar Pieterse (ACC).

The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City’. London: Palgrave Macmillan (2015)

This 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 encounter. The book reflects upon this Goethe Institut project, New Imaginaries, relative to a broader public sphere and puts forward ideas relating to the commons.

*The book is available from Palgrave, Amazon, and Nook. It is available from Palgrave as a physical book or an e-book, and in separate digital chapters. For educational or research purposes, email the author directly.
*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, the project trilogy the book focuses upon.

*The Johannesburg launch took place on 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.
*Audio file of Edgar Pieterse, introduction - download here
*Audio file of Achille Mbembe, respondent - download here
*Audio file of Tanya Zack, respondent - download here

A symposium was held as part of the research leading to the above book. ‘New Imaginaries, New Publics’, programmed by Kim on behalf of ACC and hosted at Goethe Johannesburg:
-Download programme of speakers
-Download event Rationale
Video recordings of the presentations are available upon request.