Scenes from the South

Two Nobel Laureates

J.M. Coetzee | Abdulrazak Gurnah

This travelling exhibition travels South, crossing the seas of the southern hemisphere. Showcasing a unique collection of images, maps, archives and artworks, it offers a visual journey along the migratory routes and writing lives of two of the most distinguished novelists of our time.

First launched at Amazwi South African Museum of Literature in 2020 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nobel Prizewinning author, J. M. Coetzee, Scenes from the South takes a cartographical approach, mapping the landscapes (farms, towns, cities, sea-sides and suburbs) in which Coetzee has lived and written — from Cape Town to Adelaide, and as a regular guest at literary festivals and universities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia. Inspired by his own fictionalised autobiographical trilogy, Scenes from Provincial Life, and his three-year project, ‘Literatures of the South’ (2015-2018) in Argentina, this travelling exhibition is designed as a series of itineraries, featuring three key sites in the southern hemisphere, with the port cities of Cape Town, Adelaide, and Buenos Aires all hovering, as it happens, on the same latitudinal line at 34 degrees South.

The 2024 variation of Scenes from the South, hosted by the South Australian Maritime Museum in the heritage district of Port Adelaide, traverses new ground, with additional visual itineraries from the coast of South Australia, the Flinders Ranges, and the city and hills of Adelaide, where Coetzee has made his home since 2002.

In this new collaboration, Scenes from the South asks questions about country and coastlines, streets and seascapes, migration and navigation.  It also travels to another significant site in the history of maritime travel and trade, with the companion exhibition, Zanzibar Views.  Showcasing historical photographs from Capital Art Studio in Zanzibar’s Stone Town in conversation with the writing of Coetzee’s fellow Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, it offers an illuminating portrait of the architectural spaces and Indian Ocean worlds of Zanzibar’s most celebrated novelist.

‘Simon’s Town, view from Red Hill’. Photography by Kai Easton, 2023.