Cape Town | South Africa
26.1.2021   |  Art And About Africa

About Kim Karabo Makin

Kim Karabo Makin, the native of Gaborone, Botswana, is a multidisciplinary artist, radio DJ/host, and core member of The Botswana Pavilion. She’s currently enrolled as a Master of Fine Art student at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
We had a pleasure to chat with Kim and to get to know her and her future projects.

AAAA: Why and when did you start to create art?
I remember scrambling from as early as 8 or 9 years old. I remember joking that I would become an artist one day but it wasn’t until my first year of university when I had dropped all creative practice in favour of theory, that I suddenly craved a more hands-on creative challenge.
I took a personal commitment to contribute to creative development in my home, Botswana in 2015. At the beginning of the year, I switched to a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and with that, I decided to take the academic leap into the institutions of creative practice in the region.
Visual Art History lecture by my esteemed lecturer Nomusa Makhubu, during my first year at the University of Cape Town, truly inspired me and introduced me to the potential growth that art has to offer on the continent, professionally and personally. So I’d say I started to create art excitedly and with intention, from the start of 2015.

AAAA: Tell us about your experience of being a female artist and hub manager in the art sector.
I’d say my experience of being a female artist and hub manager in the art sector is an absolute honour as I am continually inspired by fellow female creative forces to be reckoned with, more especially on and from the African continent. I find an affinity to unique female-led narratives with an intimate and personalised tone, they seem to speak to me by some shared experience that feels like ‘home’. In addition, an aspect of my research is concerned with the gendered nature of Botswana’s patrilineal societies, particularly the way this determines access to aspects of daily Tswana life. Similarly, I am interested in considering the particular kinds of communities we create within the local art sector, that speak specifically to aspects of the female experience. My creative practice may, in some ways, be considered tied to an aspect of femininity. I think it’s particularly interesting as a basis to unpack creative development in Botswana, with respect to our socio-cultural past and present.

Kim Karabo Makin, Other (a series), 2017, 31 x 41 cm (altogether)

AAAA: What is a research or a project that you are working on at the moment?
Kim: My current Master of Fine Art visual research project springboards off of the – collective memory of Medu Art Ensemble*, as dislocated across the borders of Botswana and South Africa. With a focus on Medu as a cultural organisation and as an example of the transnational identity and historical entanglement that exists across the neighbouring nation-states. The project explores the manner in which Medu’s memory lives on in the present moment. Thus, I offer a personalised audiovisual storytelling that simultaneously explores my current position as a creative across Botswana and South Africa, with respect to Medu and my own familial archives.

*Medu Art Ensemble was a collective of cultural activists based in Gaborone, Botswana during the height of the anti-apartheid resistance movement during the late twentieth century. The collective formed originally in 1977 as an of black South African artists mutually invested in regional liberation struggles and resistance to South Africa’s apartheid policy of racial segregation. Medu means “roots” in the Northern Sotho language, and so describes the collective’s underground operations (in defiance of the apartheid government’s ban on oppositional political parties and organizations).

The Botswana Pavilion, Subjective Nationhood, 2019, Installation view at the Botswana National Art, Gaborone

AAAA: Tell us something that you have done that makes you proud and what is the next goal you are pursuing
Kim: Most recently, The Botswana Pavilion completed a virtual exhibition entitled ‘Collective Ties’, which was supported by an ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia (Johannesburg) financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The virtual tour and series of online interactions traced the unique collaborative nature of the project, which brought together 10 contributing artists from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. With an emphasis on nurturing creative and cultural exchange in the region, I am particularly proud of the manner in which the project formed an apt response to the value of art across the region, amidst a global crisis. With an adjusted understanding on space and travel across neighbouring nation-states, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and ensuing Lockdown in the region, the project significantly enhanced The Botswana Pavilion’s transnationality, by initiating an experimental nurturing of delimited artistic collaboration, across borders. In this way, The Botswana Pavilion went global and extended a conversation on ‘the clay that binds us’ regionally and internationally, during this time.
The next goal I am pursuing includes extending my practice further abroad, through more collaborations and travel across the African continent.



About Kim Karabo Makin is part of the column “Women” dedicated to the women involved in the art scene on and about the African continent.
The aim of the column is to give space to women – in or connected – to the continent’s art scene. A space in which experiences, opinions and realities can be read and loved by everyone, focused on women and their empowerment.

If you know of any woman that should take part please invite her to get in touch. Thank you, we appreciate your contribution.

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