John Kannenberg is an artist, researcher, and writer.
He is the Director of The Museum of Portable Sound.

Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa

Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa

In 2014, the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University in Chicago presented a series of exhibitions, lectures, and film screenings to mark the twentieth anniversary of the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa was a major event I co-curated along with Herskovits Library Head Curator Esmeralda Kale and researcher Erik Ponder. 

My work on the exhibition included researching in the University Archives as well as the Herskovits Library; exhibition design; structuring the narrative of the three separate exhibitions; writing didactic labels and info panels; coordinating install of an iPad with narrative content; curation of a display of archival posters related to the apartheid struggle; and curation and implementation of the main exhibition's Music of the Struggle video display.

The overall event was structured into three exhibition 'chapters', each in its own physical location, which told stories related to the fall of South African apartheid and Northwestern University's own role in this series of events.

Chapter 1: Apartheid to Democracy in South Africa
An extensive survey of the history of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy.

Chapter 2: Northwestern, Chicago, and Apartheid
How Chicago and Northwestern University reacted to the growing calls for economic divestment in apartheid-supporting South African companies.

Chapter 3: South African Elections: 1994 – 2014
Featuring relics of the 1994 election in South Africa and information about elections in South Africa for the twenty years since.

The exhibition was presented at Northwestern University Library from April 7, 2014 – August 29, 2014, with an opening reception that featured an address by Vuyiswa Tulelo, Consul General of South Africa.

Studying Museums Research Group

Studying Museums Research Group

Listening to the Active Sounds of History: field recording and museums

Listening to the Active Sounds of History: field recording and museums