Productive Failures-Artworks

Dialogue With Self 2015:


This video was filmed in my studio with the intention to achieve a broader understanding of my own practice. I attempted to do so by conducting an interview on camera with myself in two voices: 1) the academic student/educator 2) my own personal inner dialogue. “Dialogue with Self” ended up revealing various insecurities/shortcomings in my own thought processes and execution of projects. This was a good starting point as this process made me realise how useful self-reflexive working methods can be when engaging in collaborative and educational practice.

Remnants (2016):


During my two year period at Wits I shared a studio with Puleng Plessie, a good friend and collaborator who is also interested in collaborative practice and education. We worked together on numerous projects and co-taught many classes. Remnants was a stop frame animation that I made for Puleng after she moved her work off of the studio walls in order to be installed at an inner city school in Johannesburg for the practical component of her Masters. Remnants speaks to our dialogues in studio, to the materiality of Puleng’s teaching practice and to time spent working collectively on various educational projects.

Gateway The Desk (2016):


In 2015, I found an abandoned school desk that was falling apart and had old graffiti scratched onto it’s surface. I decided to clean it and take it into studio with me. The desk soon became a figure that informed the way I looked at my own immediate environment at the university, and became a symbol that was repeated throughout my work in various ways. I wanted to create a narrative around the desk that could speak to it’s history and symbolism. I decided to collaborate with Phumzile Manana, a filmmaker and editor who shot and edited this film to a musical score composed by my aunt Nanette Tredoux. The video has a somber feel and dark undertone that portrays the desk as a dying figure as the object itself reflects a wooden coffin.

Drawings and Paintings:


These drawings and paintings were made while I was writing the theoretical component of Gateway. The images reflect moments and ideas that are inspired by my writing, research and engagement with collaborative and teaching practice. The process of making them led me to write in creative ways, and informed the language used in the research report.



The notes and ideas jotted down during the process of writing and formulating ideas is crucial to my practice. I definitely feel like the process of making is more important than the end result, and these notes and scribbles are very precious objects to me. Instead of discarding them I would like to shine a light on the often overlooked processes that lead up to the execution of projects, and argue that this is an important form of knowledge production.

Gateway Sticker Paste-Ups :


The decision to print the poem onto stickers and to paste each individual stanza up in different areas at the university was largely informed by my own failure to create a form that the poem could take publicly without being extremely problematic. I wanted the poem to be seen because I have been unsuccessful in my attempts at performing it. I felt like the stickers allowed me to engage with the poem in a hands on way, and allowed the poem to exist in public space. (See “About Gateway”)

“Projections of Knowledge Production”: Photography project at Rosebank Progress College

(in collaboration with Barbara Wellbeloved)


The aim of this project (that I wanted to address) was to explore the various ways that a classroom space dictates communication and access to knowledge, and how each student receives information differently. The entire project was conducted via email correspondence and required me to collect and analyse photographs taken by learners in Barbara’s Grade 10 Life Science class. I requested that Barbara allowed students to photograph her in the classroom from their various perspectives from their desks by using their cellphone cameras. Engagement with this project allowed for continual correspondence with Barbara about educational practice and also inspired her to write down some of her own thoughts that arose after the project was completed. In her personal piece of writing that she entitled: “Moments of Learning.” Barbara shared the following thought process with me:


“I don’t feel that the actual physical ‘place’ necessarily facilitates favourable moments in which learning can occur. It certainly can be light, bright, comfortable, filled with happy pictures and equipment, but the individual might be closed even to these encouraging circumstances.” (B. Wellbeloved, 2015)

“This is not a lecture. Thiz iz a leckcha”: A performance piece that was conducted at the University of Witwatersrand

(in collaboration with Chase Daenos)


In 2015 I invited my friend and colleague, Chase Daenos, a performance artist and activist from Cape Town, to participate in a performance piece at the Wits School of Arts with the intention to submit the performance as a practical component for a course called The Curatorial as Artistic Practice that I needed to complete during my first year of Masters.


We performed in a classroom space located inside the art school, interacting with the projected video piece. I was seated at a desk, frantically writing, as Chase moved in and out of the projection speaking in tongues as he purposefully drowned out the sound of institutional language.


The performance raised questions around language used in academic spaces that often has the ability to exclude rather than develop people who enter the gateway to academia. This performance was marked by an imbalance in power dynamics between myself and Chase that was often very difficult to articulate and not possible to resolve. Failure to do so resulted in a performance that was spontaneous and honest, which allowed for tension and discomfort to become an essential part of the dialogue surrounding collaborative practice.

Download Gateway: A Research Report:


  • Nanette Tredoux
    Posted at 17:39h, 18 February Reply

    Well done Genevieve. Very impressive work.

    • Genevieve Louw
      Posted at 15:01h, 20 February Reply

      thank you!

  • Paloma Ayala
    Posted at 22:40h, 20 February Reply

    Do you have a video of the Lekcha/performance? I am really curious!!!

    By the way, your writing abilities are impressive. I still like the poem after all this time, and am glad to see it here, free for all. I might ask for your permission to use it, if i find the chance to find a gateway, hehehe….

    oh, about that. I´ve got questions for you:
    How is proposing the “gateway” as a concept that is the desired way, communicating or influencing your peers or the school? you know, this sort of filter “if it opens up possibilities, then it is a gateway” =equals= “a positive way of teaching/learning”. How is this recognizable by others? Is there a method, a user manual? 😛
    (I like the idea of the flow chart, by the way. Mind maps and flow charts and word games. Lovely.)
    How did the placing the stickers worked as for establishing a bridge with the students of your university?
    I always have doubts of this practices. I say it as a critique for myself, actually, since I also communicate with posters and flyers on the streets. It is really difficult to have feedback or to measure the undoubtedly billions of people that are thinking about the things I suggest with the drawings and poems and stories I distribute on the public space.
    I always wonder if facebook would work better.
    Ugly tool, but seen by many.

    Anyway, congratulations for graduating and for your project.
    It is excellent that you left a space for discussion here.

    ps. you look gorgeous in the pics.

    • isthisagateway
      Posted at 16:54h, 26 February Reply

      Hi Paloma unfortunately I don’t have a video. It was very dark in the space, difficult to film. I do have alot of images and some writing but that was the only documentation.

    • Genevieve Louw
      Posted at 09:22h, 19 March Reply

      Hi Paloma thanks for taking the interest. So… with regard to the stickers I have to say I don’t think they achieved what I wanted them to in terms of opening dialogue. The zines were much more successful in that regard.

      The concept of gateway certainly does open up the opportunity to engage but just as it is an opening.. it speaks to a lack of access too. You are very welcome to use it of course!

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