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Associate Researchers

Nessa Leibhammer

Nessa Leibhammer's professional interests are interdisciplinary and engage art history, anthropology, archaeology, museum theory, curating and visual studies. From 1994 to 1996, Leibhammer was the curator of southern African art at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, leaving to pursue her Masters’ degree. The research report for this degree in Pre-colonial Studies took her to Turkey in 1997 and 1998, where she worked with post-processual archaeologist Ian Hodder and an international team at Catalhöyük, one of the foremost archaeological digs in the world. Here, she researched how archaeologists create and present knowledge about the past through pictographic imaging in both public and academic domains. Before completing this degree with distinction in 2001, she joined the MTN Art Institute, where she was head of research and the African art curator, becoming resident curator of the MTN Collection and the manager of the MTN Foundation’s Arts and Culture Portfolio in 2002. In this position Leibhammer oversaw projects such as the MTN’s New Contemporaries Competition, the writing and publication of the Art from the African Continent teacher’s workbook, and the curation of the accompanying exhibition. She rejoined the curatorial team at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2005, resigning from this position in 2013. Leibhammer has published extensively in the art history and visual representation field and has been involved in the curation of exhibitions such as Transformed Fibers: Art from the African Continent; Evocations of the Child: Fertility Figures of the Southern African Region; l’Afrique: A tribute to Maria Stein-Lessing and Leopold Spiegel; Dungamanzi/Stirring Waters, an exhibition of Tsonga and Shangaan art; Spirit Matters, an exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery aimed at senior phase education, and most recently, A New Jerusalem at the Polokwane Art Museum, a retrospective of the work of the late sculptor, Jackson Hlungwane. She has also been involved in such projects as the development of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Origins Centre, where she was part of the exhibition design committee and consultant for their artwork installations. She was an invited Research Fellow of the African Studies Research Centre at Cambridge University, UK in 2012-3. As an independent consultant, Leibhammer continues to write, edit, publish and curate.