UNDERLINE projects is a new organisation, founded by curators, dedicated to supporting independent voices in contemporary art.

Our main initiative is the UNDERLINE show – an exhibition platform for independent curators. Through an open call process, the show offers independent curators an opportunity to present a project within a larger curated show. We provide accepted applicants with no-cost exhibition space and logistical support, in exchange for their visionary perspectives on established, overlooked, and unknown artists.

The inaugural edition of the UNDERLINE show will be open to the public from 12-15 September 2019 at the Museum of African Design (MOAD) in Maboneng, with the space being generously provided by the GSA (Graduate School of Architecture) at the University of Johannesburg. The event is strategically timed to happen during Johannesburg’s official Art Week.

Mission

Our mission is to create a platform in Africa for independent curators that is both curatorially compelling and enables their participation in the art market. 

We have witnessed the phenomenal growth of artists, curators, and the art market in Africa over the past 15 years, but with minimal corresponding growth of art spaces, institutions, professional opportunities, or widening of audiences on the continent itself. 

This alternative model stems from this recognition that there is a wealth of talented  curators and visual artists whose potential is stifled by the comparative lack of opportunity on the African continent. 

Utilising unused buildings in Johannesburg, we are dedicated to changing the current cultural landscape by creating an exciting new opportunity for curators, artists, collectors, and the public.

A different model

Conventional art fairs act as a platform for galleries to make their artists known, sell their artwork, and forge links with the art industries major players. They also crucially offer a practical means for art critics, collectors, curators, museum directors and enthusiasts to come into direct contact and network. Further, art fairs are instrumental in transforming the host city into a global destination for art. 

Unlike traditional art fairs that are exclusively dedicated to serving art galleries, UNDERLINE is an ART SHOW that serves to widen the parameters of participation by: 

  • Providing curators and artists with a new vital opportunity to expand their practice through collaboration.
  • Offering curators and artists the chance to improve their entrepreneurial skills and expand their networks.
  • Offering a new exhibition model focussed on being accessible and inclusive, with free participation, and extensive support and mentorship. 

Contrary to the art fair model, the UNDERLINE show:

  • Charges no booth fees.
  • Provides all accepted applicants the support usually dealt with by in-house gallery infrastructure within the art fair model, such as installation, logistics, sales and after-sales. 
  • Offers mentorship for art history students with an interest in curating. 
  • Presents a talk programme focused on topics in the field of curatorial practice. 

We are highlighting the importance of a curator within the formation of an exhibition, noting that curatorial practice can uplift and unpack artistic output, framing it in cogent, distinct and lateral ways.

We also encourage artists and curators to work together, in the spirit of collaboration.

Who we are

We are three independent curators with a combined local and international experience of more than 20 years in the contemporary art world.

Natasha Becker is an independent researcher, writer, and curator of contemporary African and African American art. She is the co-founder of Assembly Room, a platform for independent women curators in New York City. She was Senior Curator at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa) and prior to that she was the Assistant Director in the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute (USA). Having studied history in South Africa and art history in the United States, she has lived and worked in Africa and America for the past sixteen years. Her curated projects include: Dialogues in Drawing at Jenkins Johnson Gallery (San Francisco, 2017), Multiplicities Vol. 1 Continuous Unknowing at Assembly Room (New York, 2018), Present Passing co-curated with Patrick Flores at the Osage Foundation (Hong Kong, 2019) and Perilous Bodies with artist/curator Jaishri Abachandani at the Ford Foundation Art Gallery (New York, 2019). She is currently working on a trilogy of exhibitions at the Ford Foundation for Social Justice (New York).

Londi Modiko is a curator and art advisor, who holds Fine Art and business qualifications as well as 11 years of industry experience. Her curatorial and advisory skills were honed at various notable institutions such as the Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, WHATIFTHEWORLD and David Krut to name a few. Whilst working at these institutions, she worked on numerous significant art projects and international art fairs such as Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland and Miami Beach and Frieze in London and New York. She has consulted for private collections, as well as non-profit institutions such as the BAG Factory and Constitutional Hill of South Africa. Over the years, Londi has developed a connoisseur’s eye and has acquired seamless skills in art project development and management. She runs an art advisory called An Art Agency, a start-up that specialises in contemporary art from Southern Africa. The company offers independent and comprehensive expertise to help connect individuals, private collectors, estates, non-profits, corporates and government to a vast network of skilled artists.

Lara Koseff is a curator and writer based in Johannesburg. She worked at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg from 2010 to 2018, primarily in a curatorial capacity and as a liaison for numerous artists. Here she was involved in the inception of South-South, a curatorial initiative exploring connections within and constructions of the Global South, with a focus on Latin America and Africa in particular. Curated shows include Speaking the Unspeakable by Grada Kilomba at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg (2018); Love is a Difficult Blue by Ghada Amer & Reza Farkhondeh at Goodman Gallery Cape Town (2018); LOST LOVER at Lanchonete<>Lanchonete project space, Rio de Janeiro (2018) and I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I know what you mean, a video programme co-curated with Paula Borghi for Goodman Gallery’s South-South project, shown in Cape Town (2018) and at arteBA, Buenos Aires (2019). She is creative director of offsetculture.art, an online platform for printed matter.