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Call for applications 2018 - Rivonia Trial




The Rivonia trial audio archive and 'the everyday'





In July 1963 anti-apartheid activists were arrested in their secret headquarters in Rivonia, near Johannesburg. Between October 1963 and June 1964, 10 defendants, including Nelson Mandela, were prosecuted during the infamous "Rivonia Trial". It was a brutal turning point in the history of South Africa as most of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The trial was recorded on 591 Dictabelts, a now obsolete audio recording medium. These records, held by the National Archives of South Africa, are a fundamental piece of heritage of the South African nation and are inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World register. INA, the French national audiovisual institute, was asked by the South African government to digitize and restore the records. Researchers, artists and ordinary citizens can now have access to this extraordinary audio archive.


The French Institute with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, NARSSA (National Archives and Records Service of South Africa), Wits History Workshop (University of the Witwatersrand) and INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel), are partnering to organize a series of events to discuss these archives from 20 to 27 September 2018 as part of the Nelson Mandela Centenary celebrations.


An exciting component of the programme of activities will be the launch of an artistic project based on a collaboration between a scholar/researcher and an artist. The aim of the partnership is to engage the Rivonia audio trial from a creative perspective and produce an artwork that will be part of the launch of the Mandela Week at the NMF on 20 September 2018. The initiative is part of the History Workshop's programme on 'The everyday and public history', focusing on everyday experiences and practices of historical knowledge production in the field of public history. Viewed through the lens of the 'everyday', the Rivonia audio archive opens up the trial to the intricacies of its everyday, even mundane, unfolding, beyond the spectacular moment of Mandela's statement from the dock. 





Any artist or collective of artists, amateur, student or professional, based in Johannesburg (or who could be here to work with the researcher) and older than 18 years is eligible to apply. The selected artist(s) will be partnered with a researcher linked to the History Workshop.

Any form of cultural and artistic expression is welcome for the project: music, dance, theatre, visual art, video, performance, etc.





This collaborative project will involve the pairing of a researcher linked to the History Workshop with a creative artist to produce an art work using the Rivonia trial audio archive as part of 'the everyday and public history' programme.

The objectives of the artwork will be: creating links between the past and present as part of the creative process; highlighting the historical heritage of the dictabelts; incorporating the theme of memory as an essential component to revisiting the Rivonia Trials; and commemorating the Mandela centenary. The project will use the dictabelt extract and the Rivonia trial as a leitmotiv. The panel will follow these guidelines to select the artist.

To apply please submit a letter of intent (to express why you want to work on this project and any ideas you may have around creatively intervening on the Rivonia audio archive and link your idea with the historical significance of this trial) and your portfolio including visual, audio, and audio-visuals elements of your work.

The successful artist will be selected by a committee that will include representatives of the Wits History Workshop, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa) and IFAS (Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud)/French Institute of South Africa).





A grant of ZAR 40 000 will be awarded to the collaboration. This will cover all costs of the project (copyright, materials, expenses, etc.) for the artist and the researcher. The creative outcome of the collaboration will be launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation for the opening of the Mandela week on 20 September 2018 as part of the Nelson Mandela Centenary and the programme of events relating to the Rivonia trial audio archive.





The deadline for applications is SUNDAY 15 APRIL

Complete applications must be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



General calendar for the project:

  • Wednesday 21st February 2018 → Opening of the call for applications
  • Sunday 15th April 2018 → End of the call for applications
  • Wednesday 20th April 2018 → Selection of the artist(s)
  • Wednesday 20 June 2018 → Presentation of the proposal and budget for the artwork by the researcher and artist
  • Sunday 10th September 2018 → Artwork finalised
  • Thursday 20th September 2018 → Launch of the artwork



For more information, contact Thomas Vassort, cultural and audio-visual officer at the French Institute by email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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