RUKA: Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Julia Novitch

July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016

On July 1, 2015, Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Julia Novitch will begin a durational presentation of RUKA as part of Recess’s online residency, Analog. Analog invites artists to use as sustained, virtual space that renders private activities accessible to public, online audiences.

The African Hair Braiding Reader project is an extension of Mutiti’s Session RUKA (To braid/ to knit/ to weave) and acknowledges process, labour, time, repetition, undoing and redoing and teaching and learning.  Using braiding as a metaphor for the act of recombining perspectives, content and code, the objective of this project is to publish a series of process-oriented virtual works as well as physical objects related to the theme of African hair braiding.

On the Analog website, and ultimately in the African Hair Braiding Salon Reader, Mutiti and Novitch will accumulate pertinent audio recordings, videos, images, and personal notes, ranging from braiders’ business cards, salon posters, beauty supply purchases, colonial photographs, illustrations in academic texts, and photographs of hair braiding salons.  This content will be woven together using formal rules that are open to variation, remixing, and sampling. The resulting connections amongst the collected material will form new contexts and juxtapositions.

Mutiti and Novitch will explore a range of design interventions that explore print production as well as web based interactivity. Questions around distribution and access in relation to an established audience continue to focus this work.

Participant Bios:

Nontsikelelo Mutiti is a Zimbabwean-born artist and educator working across disciplines to produce work that occupies the forms of fine art, design, and social practice. Mutiti received a diploma in multimedia from the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) in 2007 and an MFA with a concentration in graphic design from the Yale School of Art in 2012. She has been a resident artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Recess as well as the Centre for Book Arts in New York. Through the support of these organisations Nontsikelelo Mutiti has continued to develop work around African Hair Braiding and themes related to African immigration. Mutiti is currently Assistant Professor in the New Media Department at State University of New York, Purchase College.

Julia Novitch is a freelance graphic designer. She received an MFA in Graphic Design from the Yale University School of Art in 2013. Her practice seeks to combine programming, publishing, and design across a variety of web-based and print formats. She currently divides her time between New York and Berlin.






This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Download press release for Ruka