John M. Peffer







Columbia University, New York, Department of Art History and Archaeology

      Ph.D.  2002

      M.Phil.  Critical Theory/African Art, 1994

      M.A.  Critical Theory/African Art, 1993 "The Politics of Archaeology at Great Zimbabwe"


Indiana University, Bloomington, Individualized Major Program

      B.A.  African Studies, 1990


Ph.D. thesis: The Struggle for Art At the End of Apartheid






Visiting Assistant Professor, African Art History, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts. Currently teaching African art survey, visual culture methodology course, and seminars on traditional and modernist art in Africa and the Diaspora.



Curator, Minnette Vári  Media Work: Alien, Oracle, an exhibition of recent digital video animations by South African artist Minnette Vári at the Jannotta Gallery, Smith College.



Co-curator of Translation/Seduction/Displacement, a traveling exhibition of photographic and post-conceptual art from South Africa. Venues: WhiteBox Gallery in New York, and Maine College of Art, Portland. Organized concept, fundraising,      public programming, promotion, and installation design.





Fulbright IIE Doctoral Dissertation Traveling Fellowship for South Africa, 1994-1995.

Faculty Fellow, Department of Art History and Archeology, Columbia University, 1990-1995.

Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1994-1995.





"Abrie Fourie: Fragmentary Moments Mistaken for Something Meaningful,"  FNB VITA ART PRIZE Johannesburg: First National Bank, 2002.


"Animalism and Disfigurement in South African Art After Soweto," forthcoming Third Text, Spring 2003.


"The Kingdom of Swaziland,"  Dictionary of African Art, Second Edition  

(Herbert Cole, ed.) London: Grove Dictionaries, 2002.


Co-Editor Translation/Seduction/Displacement: Post-Conceptual and Photographic Work by Artists from South Africa, exhibition catalogue, Portland: Maine College of Art, 2000.


"In Memoriam: Ezrom Legae," African Arts Autumn, 1999.


"In Memoriam: Lucky Sibiya," African Arts Autumn, 1999.


Book Review:  New Traditions from Nigeria: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group by Simon Ottenberg. African Arts Summer, 1999.


The Swazi (as ghostwriter), New York: Rosen Educational Press, 1996.


The Chewa New York: Rosen Educational Press, 1996.


"Annotated Bibliography on Community Arts in South Africa" Africus 95 Biennale Catalogue Johannesburg, 1995.



Professional Papers



"Unsettling Monuments: Iconoclasm as the Inverse of Censorship in South African Art" CAA Annual Conference, New York.



"The Three Essentials of Contemporary African Art (Abroad)" Paper presented at the conference Visions of a Future: Art and Art History in Changing Contexts, Zurich.


"Mistaken Media (On the Re-use of the News in South African Art)" conference paper, African Studies Association annual meeting, Washington, D.C.



"Animal Body, Absent Body:  Disfigurement in Apartheid and Post-Apartheid Art" Paper for the panel "Body Politics in African Art, " chaired by Mary Nooter-Roberts, College Art Association annual conference, Chicago.

“Beyond Self-Regard, South African Art Since 1990” Talk given as part of the public programming for an exhibition of South African art at the University of  Illinois, Chicago.


Reviews of Translation/Seduction/Displacement Exhibition


Nico Israel, Artforum May, 2000.

Holland Carter, New York Times March 24, 2000

Cate McQuaid, "Somber show of artists after apartheid" Boston Globe September 4, 2000.

Valerie Cann, Maine Sunday Telegram Vol.113, no.9, 2000.

Jenna Russell, "Oppressive reflections: MECA's brooding new show," The Portland Phoenix September 22-September 28, 2000.

Mark D'Amato, African Arts Winter, 2000.



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Essay: Mistaken Media

Minnette Vári biography

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