Terry Kurgan lives and works in Johannesburg. Working across a broad range of media, from drawing, writing and photography to enlisting public participation in her production processes, her work emerges in the space between visual art and an engagement in the public sphere. Kurgan’s artistic interest over many years has been in photography: in the complex and paradoxical nature of photographic transactions. She explores this through a diverse body of artwork that foregrounds notions of intimacy, pushing at the boundaries between ‘the private’ and ‘the public’ in the South African public domain. Her projects have been sited in spaces as varied as a maternity hospital, a public library, a popular Johannesburg shopping mall, an inner city park and a prison.
Kurgan received her BAFA from the California School of Arts in San Francisco, her MFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, and her MA in Creative writing from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has exhibited and published broadly and been awarded numerous grants and prizes, including the FNB Vita Art Prize (2000), Business Day/Business Art South Africa awards (2007, 2009), a Puma.Creative Mobility Award (2010), and the inaugural Mbokoda photography award (2012). The Hotel Yeoville project was shortlisted for the 2012 International Award for Excellence in Public Art (IAPA), and Kurgan’s book Hotel Yeoville, was published by Fourthwall Books, Johannesburg (2013). Recent exhibitions and projects include: Nine Urban Biotopes: Negotiating the Future of Urban Living, exhibition, project and artists’ residency, Berlin, (2014); Public Intimacy: Art And Other Ordinary Acts In South Africa, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) 2014; Sharp, Sharp Johannesburg, La Gaite Lyrique, Paris (2013); Interrogation Series: Hotel Yeoville, Storefront For Art and Architecture, New York, NY (2013); Public Art/Private Lives, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg (2013); Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the V & A Museum, London (2011).
She is currently Artist in Residence/Writing Fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she is working on an artist’s bookwork. She is also director and associate editor of the independent publisher–Fourthwall Books, Johannesburg.