Uthando Baduza

Curator, Red Location Art Gallery

Trying to persuade people who live in townships without basic services that art is important is difficult, but it’s a task that Uthando Baduza believes is crucial.

Baduza is chief curator at the Red Location Art Gallery in New Brighton township in Port Elizabeth. The gallery and museum there close at times due to protests by the community that money is being spent on “houses for the dead” instead of facilities for the living.

“If we are really serious about transforming people’s lives and healing people, I think art can play a pivotal role in dealing with some of the challenges we are finding,” Baduza says. “If artists have scholarships and resources then art can permeate our everyday lives and add a lot of value at an emotional level, and have an impact at a community level.”

Officials work hard to keep the museum and gallery open by promoting the idea the Red Location belongs to everyone.

“This gallery is one of very few in a township, so there are complex questions about how to deal with the challenges of the community and the importance of art, because art is always relegated to the last on the list,” says Baduza.

“A lot of commercial galleries focus on selling art and we as a public gallery are challenged to be more robust in our approach and provide art and museum services to the public. We need to be at the forefront of the role that art can play in our society, and get people excited about art and offer opportunities to the community to learn more about art.”

His approach as a curator is to put artworks together to create new meanings and begin conversations between the art and the viewer so people leave with more questions than answers. This might sound like a bad thing, but he believes the essential purpose of art is not to impose answers but to expand our minds to imagine new possibilities.

Baduza has a BA in political studies, a postgraduate diploma in heritage and museum studies and an MA in public and visual history. He is currently a PhD student in the history of arts education.

He has worked at the District Six Museum and advises various government departments and organisations in the areas of arts, culture and heritage. — Lesley Stones

Photo: Mazwi Vezi Photography

Instagram: @u_badu