Stop trying to tell me my history," reads one of the handwritten comments displayed in Overtime, an exhibition at the Wits Art Museum curated by Tatenda Magaisa and Katleho Shoro. According to its subtitle, it tackles the "representations, values and imagined futures of classical African Art". The ethos of the exhibition centres on encouraging engagement. The museum’s education curator, Leigh Leyde, designed the interactive installation, including an entreaty to visitors to provide feedback. The public appear keen to respond to salacious art that crosses the line of acceptability — think Ayanda Mabulu’s depictions of President Jacob Zuma. Yet public art institutions have battled to connect to their publics. As the prickly comment at the exhibition attests, racial and institutional baggage is among the reasons for it. The architectural character of museums has supported these ideas. The Joburg Art Museum’s colonial façade is blamed for it appearing to look like a government building ...

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