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Current Exhibitions

The Collection of Violet and Les Payne
Next Generation: Emerging Photographers from South Africa

February 5 – March 26, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 5, 6–8 PM

The Collection of Violet and Les Payne, a selection of artwork collected by Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, during his time reporting in Johannesburg, South Africa between 1976-1985, will be on display on the first floor of the gallery. The Payne collection is focused on works on paper and paintings by artists from the black township of Soweto, Johannesburg. Payne was a journalist reporting during the 1976 Soweto Uprising, a massive and violent series of student protests. Payne returned to South Africa in 1985 to report on the changes that had taken place during the intervening years. It was during these trips that he collected artwork from Soweto artists. The artists created works that captured everyday life as well as a sense of hope despite the immense turmoil that surrounded them. Artists in the collection include Velaphi Mzimba, Hargreaves Ntukwana, David Mbele, Winston Saoli, and Percy Konqobe, many of whom have gone on to be internationally recognized.

Through a partnership with the Roger Ballen Foundation of Johannesburg, an organization dedicated to the advancement of education of photography in South Africa, the museum will display photographs on mezzanine gallery by emerging South African artists, Musa Nxumalo, Sanele Moya and Sipho Mpongo, who have come of age since the abolition of apartheid and the first democratic election in 1994. Artwork by this younger generation of artists reflects both the momentous shift to democracy twenty years ago as well as the end of an era with the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013.

The exhibition will highlight the political and social shifts that have taken place since the Soweto Uprising in 1976 up through the death of Nelson Mandela. So much of what we know of South Africa is filtered through the often sensational news media. By looking at South Africa’s history through the lens of artwork, the audience is able to see the course of history through the eyes of the participants—artists involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s and young artists who will help shape the future of South Africa.

Next Generation Exhibition Catalgoue


Thursday, February 5, 6-8 pm
Opening Reception and Gallery Talk by Les Payne

Tuesday, February 24, 6 pm
Roundtable on Global and African Apartheid with Les Payne, Satadru Sen (QC History Department) and Richard Knight (Director of African Activist Archive).

Tuesday, March 10, 4:30 pm
Talk by artist and South African native Robert Sember on the ongoing struggle for social justice evident in South African visual art, music, and film.

Wednesday, March 11 & Thursday, March 12, 10:30 am
Interactive Artists' Talk and Q&A with South African photographers Sipho Mpongo, Sanele Moya, and Musa Nxumalo.

Thursday, March 19, 6 pm
ART/ACTIVISM: Discussion and performance on art as social activism with Martha Wilson (artist and founder of Franklin Furnace), Ricarrdo Valentine and Orlando Hunter (Brother(hood) Dance members), Maureen Conner (artist and QC Art Professor), and Tonya Foster (CCNY author) followed by performances by Bother(hood) Dance Collective, gumboot dance by QC students, and readings by Tonya Foster, QC alumnae Shawn Smith and Zakia Henderson Brown and Pratt Institute students Abel Shifferaw and Saretta Morgan.

Tuesday, February 10, 5:30 pm
Cry Freedom (1987, Directed by Richard Attenborough, 99 mins)
This British drama, set in the late 1970s during the apartheid era of South Africa, is based on a pair of books by journalist Donald Woods. South African journalist Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend the black activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington). Principal filming took place primarily in Zimbabwe due to tense political situation in South Africa during the time it was shot. The film also includes a dramatized depiction of the Soweto uprising, which occurred on June 16, 1976. Nominated for three Oscars, the film stars include Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Penelope Wilton and Kevin McNally.

Wednesday, February 18, 12:15 pm
Under African Skies (2012, Directed by Joe Berlinger, 101 mins)
This film captures Paul Simon's return to South Africa in 2011 to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he received for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime. The principal musicians include Joseph Shabalala, leader of the a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Ray Phiri.

Thursday, February 26, 5:30 pm
Searching for Sugar Man (2012, Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, 87 mins)
A Swedish-British documentary about the Cape Town fans of the American musician Sixto Rodriguez whose music was widely popular in South Africa but virtually unknown in the United States. The musician was unaware of his success in South Africa because of apartheid censorship and sanctions. Awards include an Academy Award, Directors Guild of America, and Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Documentary.

Tuesday, March 3, 5:30 pm
Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2000, Directed by Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, 94 mins)
Following the end of apartheid in South Africa in the 1990s, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to pursue social justice, this acclaimed documentary focuses on some of the stories that emerged from the organization's cases. Although renowned leader Bishop Desmond Tutu appears, the film focuses primarily on everyday people, both white and black, who committed appalling crimes during apartheid and came to the commission seeking forgiveness.

Monday, March 9, 5:30 pm
Five Roads to Freedom: From Apartheid to the World Cup (2010, Directed by Robin Benger and Jane Thandi Lipman, 52 mins)
This documentary looks at South Africa's revolutionary transformation through the eyes of five men and women who lived under the shadow of apartheid. The documentary focuses on five individuals from across the social and political spectrum: ordinary people whose experiences are representative of the profound changes of the past 15 years and whose lives in 2010 reflect both the promise and the ambiguities of today's South Africa. Five Roads to Freedom is a deeply personal project for filmmaker Robin Benger. As a South African student leader in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was arrested three times for anti-apartheid activities, and ultimately expelled from the country.

Monday, March 16, 5:30 pm
Behind the Rainbow (2009, directed by Jihan El-Tahri, 84 mins)
This film explores the transition of the ANC from a liberation organization into South Africa's ruling party, through the evolution of the relationship between two of its most prominent cadres, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Exiled under Apartheid they were brothers in arms, under Mandela they loyally labored to build a non-racial state, now they are bitter rivals. Their duel threatens to tear apart the ANC and the country, as the poor desperately seek hope in change and the elite fight for the spoils of victory.

Click below to watch an interview with art collectors Violet and Les Payne and museum director Amy Winter.

Images Top: Winston Saoli, Faces, 1989, bottom: Sanele Moya, Ancestral Prohibit Kho Kho, 2014.

Lobby Gallery

September 2014 - August 2015

On display in the Lobby Gallery are highlights of African art from the GTM's permanent collection. The selection of artwork focuses primarily on ritual obejcts and masks, but also includes examples of textiles and currency. Throughout history, objects have served as symbols of spiritual and material power. The masks on display are all associated with strong religious and spiritual beliefs that influence the way a community responds to them. The functions of masks are as complex and varied as their forms.

Along side the African objects is a display of anti-apartheid posters, pins, and documents that aims to provide some sense of the political struggle against the violent system of racial segregation that was in place in South Africa for much of the 20th century.

The documents and reproductions are examples of the visual material that was used all over the world in the decades long protest of the treatment of black South Africans. We hope that these pieces of history provide some insight into the protest movement and afford some space for reflection on the power and value of mass-movements in a time when injustice and racism are apparent in our own country.

Top image: Published in 1981 by Liberation Support Movement with support from the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid. Design/Artwork by Rupert Garcia.

Bottom image: Giwoyo mask, early 20th century, Democratic Republic of the Congo, wood and fiber. Gift of William Siegmann, 2006.3.3

Museum Hours
Mon.–Thurs. 11 am to 7 pm, Sat. 11 am to 5 pm

Please note that the museum, located in Klapper Hall, Room 405, is not open on holidays and when the college is closed. Admission is free. For directions to Queens College, please visit:

Please call the museum for updated programs and schedules or re-visit this website www.qc.cuny.edu/godwin_ternbach for further information.

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