Open Call to Artists: “What is Knowledge?”


Theme: What is Knowledge?

Exhibition dates: July 20-22 2018

Deadline to submit art: Monday 11 June 2018

Location: Southern Sun Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa


Whose Knowledge? is organizing an exhibition at Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa, to explore what knowledge means in different communities and contexts.

Wikimania is an annual conference where Wikipedia geeks, encyclopedians, community organizers and technologists from around the world gather to talk about Wikimedia projects and “the sum of all human knowledge.”  To date, however, Wikipedia and Wikimedia have defined knowledge very narrowly. This year, Wikimedia has identified knowledge equity as part of its new strategic direction, and the Cape Town hosts have selected a theme of “Bridging Knowledge Gaps: The Ubuntu Way Forward” for Wikimania 2018.

With this art exhibition, co-located at the Wikimania conference venue, and planned alongside our Decolonizing the Internet event, we aim to build a space through art to explore plural, diverse, and expansive definitions of knowledge from a range of different perspectives.

Artist eligibility

All artists who are passionate in thinking about knowledge are welcome, no formal experience is required. Women, people of color, LGBTQI folks, indigenous peoples, people from African countries and the African-diaspora, and others from the Global South who have been disproportionately left out of Wikimedia’s “sum of knowledge” thus far are particularly encouraged to make art for this exhibition! 

Prompt for artists

Art should respond to the following question:

What is knowledge?

Please interpret this question in any way that makes sense to you, your community, and your relationship to knowledge. Below are some ideas for how you might approach this question, but please feel free to go another direction that feels meaningful to you!

  • What does knowledge mean to you? What does it mean to your community?
  • Whom does knowledge belong to? How do we share knowledge well? How is it misappropriated? What is the relationship between knowledge and power? What is knowledge equity?
  • What is knowledge for? Where does it belong?
  • How is knowledge created? Who creates it? Is it static once it is created? How does it get preserved? Who preserves it?


  • Artists may submit up to three works for consideration. These can be something you’ve already created for other purposes that fit with this theme, or new works.
  • Contacts: Siko Bouterse and Marti Johnson, Please put “Cape Town art exhibition” in your subject line of all communications.

If you’d like to get early feedback about whether your art is a good fit for this show, email us today to let us know you’re interested, and tell us briefly about yourself or your art!


  • When your art is finished (or nearly done!), please email us jpeg images of your work(s). (by Monday 11 June 2018)
  • We’ll notify you if your art can be included in the exhibition, and be in touch about how to get it to Cape Town. (by Wednesday 20 June 2018)

Artwork specifications

We will consider any form of two-dimensional art that meets the following weight and size dimensions*:

  • Artwork ‘ready to hang,’ or ready-to-print graphic file
  • No more than 1 meter wide
  • No more than 2.5 meters high
  • Weight limit:  Art will be presented on two-dimensional display boards, attached using a product called Prestik, a puttylike material. The art will need to be on light enough material to be compatible with Prestik. The work should be all paper – no frame, glass, wood, etc. 

* If you are compelled by this exhibition prompt but work in a medium that doesn’t meet this criteria, please contact us to discuss!


This exhibition is a pilot being organized with a small budget and largely supported by volunteers.  Regretfully, we are not resourced to pay artists for their art, or to provide high security for art pieces submitted for this show, and we are unsure if we can 100% guarantee their safety during transport or display as one might expect from a professional art gallery. We will do our best to take good care of your art and return it safely to you. We recognize that many resources are invested in making art! Because there are inherent risks in shipping art and displaying it in a conference hotel venue, we recommend that artists only submit works that you would be willing to part with permanently. If you have highly valuable work you would like to share in this context, consider sending us a digital rendering (photograph, scan, etc) that we can have printed in Cape Town, to minimize the risk to the original. We will do our best to give your art all the respect that it deserves given our constraints.


Whose Knowledge? volunteers will be putting together this exhibition in the Wikimania conference space. We look forward to seeing your art and ideas, and to exploring knowledge more together in Cape Town!