Professor Dominic Thorburn




Rhodes University


Dominic Thorburn is Professor and Chair of Fine Art at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. Born and educated in Cape Town he was awarded an MFA in 1983 from Rhodes University where he also presently heads the Printmedia Section. Dominic was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 1992 that granted him a sabbatical at the renowned Tamarind Institute, University of New Mexico, where he completed a Professional Printer Program. First prize in a major national art competition rewarded him in 1994 with a year_s residency at the CitÇ Internationale des Arts, Paris, France. Achievements in academia have included many research grants and global travel awards. He has presented papers on diverse aspects of printmaking at numerous international conferences and is also widely published. Thorburn has exhibited extensively both within South Africa and globally and is broadly represented in museum, corporate, and private collections. He initiated the establishment of the Fine Line Press at Rhodes University, unique in being the only institution based printmaking press and research unit in South Africa. In 2008 Dominic was awarded an Amnesty International Social Change Award in recognition of his extensive community outreach within the arts. Thorburn is a member of the Impact Steering Committee and was co-convenor of the 3rd Impact International Printmaking Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2003.

Paper title

Navigating the North-South Axis - Divide and Rule?


My initial conceptual departure point was to focus on a Southern Hemisphere nexus ... South-South as such and explore a convergence of initiatives and energy. How does printmaking potentially differ in the South? Are there intrinsic influences that have impacted the Southern Hemisphere differently to the Northern? How has colonialism and its resonances prevailed? Why are some countries in the region, and especially Africa, often referred to as 'the developing South'? How can this euphemism of distress be rescued through unpacking the visual arts and specifically printmaking? The compass naturally then swung to the North. Being categorized as part of the 'North' implies development as opposed to belonging to the 'South' which often implies a lack thereof. The North becomes synonymous with economic development and industrialization while the South often represents the previously colonized countries which are in need of help ' often in the form of international aid agendas. In order to understand how this divide occurs, a definition of 'development' itself is possibly needed. The Dictionary of Human Geography defines development as '[p]rocesses of social change or [a change] to class and state projects to transform national economies'. This definition in turn entails an understanding of economic development which becomes central when trying to comprehend the north-south divide. There is naturally criticism of the use of the term 'developing country' as the term implies a low level of material well-being, inferiority and is potentially degrading to countries of the global south. It assumes a need for progress, to catch up, to evolve, and to embrace globalisation and a desire to 'develop' along the traditional Western hegemonic model of economic and cultural imperatives. Some would assert a neo-colonialist perspective. The North-South axis, with its 'intersections and counterpoints', is inevitably centred on the geo-politics of economic globalisation. How do these geo-strategies affect cultural exchange and intersection and potentially become 'geo-aesthetics'?


Tuesday 27 September


1:30pm - 3:00pm




Chairing Sessions

Friday 30 September, 11:00am - 12.30pm

Tuesday 27 September, 1:30pm - 3.00pm


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