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Breathing Space | Projects

A visual art diary-of-sorts by Keely Shinners

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A Breathing Space Project

In 2020 we saw many of our assumptions about society, culture and economy upturned or broken. We saw in equal measure the emergence of possibilities for rapid and transformative change, and the deepening of existing fractures and injustices. It is clear we are inside a period of disruption that neither began nor will end with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in which the larger social-economic-ecological crises of our time become vivid and present. Against this backdrop, the Breathing Space grant programme of Pro Helvetia’s Johannesburg office looked to enable modest relief, or ‘breathing space’, for arts practitioners, organisations and networks across the subcontinent to rethink ways of working, to experiment with new formats of production, exchange and collaboration and reimagine the shape and position of cultural and creative work.

[in review] is a visual art diary-of-sorts conceptualised and edited by Cape Town based writer Keely Shinners. Over the course of 30 days in January 2021, 30 arts writers working in, around and about Southern Africa will share musings and meditations on an artwork of their choosing⁠⁠⁠ which, for them, has been life-giving, thought-provoking, or soul-soothing in the turbulence that was 2020.

The writers invited to participate in the project are:

Amie Soudien, Amogelang Maledu, Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti, Cat Rudolph, Christa Dee, Enos Nyamor, Gemma Hart, Holly Beaton, Isabella Kuijers, Julie Nxadi, Khanya Mashabela, Khumo Sebambo, Kim Gurney, Kopano Maroga, Lindiwe Mngxitama, Lindsey Raymond, Lucienne Bestall, Luvuyo Nyawose Equiano, Maneo Mohale, Mmabatho Thobejane, Max Thesen Law, Marcia Elizabeth, Misha Krynauw, Nkgopoleng Moloi, Percy Mabandu, Robin Kirsten, Sean O’Toole, Sinazo Chiya, Thulile Gamedze, and Vusumzi Nkomo.


Born in Illinois, USA, Keely’s fiction has appeared in the anthology super/natural, The Sun, and  Inter-Magazine. Their essays have appeared in journals such as James Baldwin Review and Safundi, as well as the publications ArtThrob, Mask, Flaunt, Full Stop, and Autre. They were a finalist in the Winter Tangerine Awards, a recipient of the Manchester University Graduate Student Essay Award, and the winner of the Ruth George Poetry Prize. Keely’s first novel, How To Build a Home for the End of the World, is forthcoming from Perennial Press.