18:00 SAST

18:00  SAST

Why The White Box?

An Enquiry on How Architecture Can Facilitate Access to Art in Rosebank

Simphiwe Mojapelo

BArch Hons 2022

Unit Leader: Gregory Katz
Unit Tutor: Jaco Jonker
Unit Assistant: Senzo Mamba

Making... A Difference 2022
The white cube: a conduit of artefact – a space that reflects the past and reveals the future to us; However, as art becomes more commercialized and art galleries becoming more ‘exclusive’, the white cube also forces us [its visitors] to reflect on our place and belonging in the heavily capitalized status quo - Sindi, 2022

The advent of modernism and its explorative nature has forced spaces that house and display art to adapt into ‘unbiased’ and neutral spaces accommodative of the movement’s abstract nature (Widodo, 2020). Institutionalised by New York’s Museum of Modern Art in the 1930’s (Cain, 2017), art galleries have adopted this ‘white cube’ as the default interior fashion. Despite the functional considerations of the sterile white interior typology, considering the widening economic divide of South Africa’s social landscape (Al Jazeera, 2022), it may be argued that the white cube typologies of art galleries may allude to the art world’s elitist history (Bell, 1974) especially taking into consideration the growing commoditisation of art through commercial art galleries and that participators of this exchange are primarily the wealthy. 

For my Major Design Project (MDP), I interrogate the white cube typology of art galleries and investigate the elitist, exclusive narrative such spaces construct through investigating alternative ways of housing, displaying and installing art. The architectural consideration is to take a step back and look at what role the artefact played in precolonial Africa. My architectural approach for my research is to consider what art would look like outside of the white cube and re-integrated into lifestyle. 

Thus, I have chosen Rosebank as my site of interest for my research given how the area has established itself as one of Johannesburg’s significant cultural locations. Working with property company, Growthpoint, our Unit will be working with Growthpoint’s buildings currently struggling with low tenancy. For my MDP, I have selected 160 Jan Smuts, Rosebank, as the site of my enquiry.

Art Gallery, Access, Acupuncture, Alternates

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