Francois Knoetze

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Francois Knoetze is a Cape Town based performance artist, sculptor and filmmaker known for his sculptural suits and experimental video art.

Since completing his formal education in 2015, Knoetze’s practice has been itinerant. He has spent the past 5 years working on projects in South Africa (National Arts Festival, Goethe Institut Johannesburg), Dar es Salaam (Nafasi Art Space AIR), Kinshasa (Kinact3), Dakar (Afropixel6/Digital Imaginaries), New York (Art OMI AIR), Chengdu (Centre Pompidou), Shenzhen (33 Space), and Paris (Centre Pompidou). He is a recipient of the Digital Earth Fellowship and has been featured as one of Mail & Guardian Newspaper’s ‘Top 200 Young
South Africans’.

Using a wide range of media, Knoetze is interested in drawing rhizomatic links between the world of objects and people, highlighting how myths and grand-narratives have, and continue to manifest materially on an interpersonal, local and global scale. In his sculptural suits, the synthetic is welded to the human – bringing focus to the objectification of persons, through the personification of objects. In the co-mingling of found objects and found video footage, his practice attempts to retrieve life from the growing dumps of consumer culture by rendering permeable the rigidly constructed margins that separate and classify spaces, objects and persons.

In his most recent series, Core Dump (2019), Knoetze explores connections between primary materials and social and geopolitical issues, with a particular interest in e-waste and its global circulation. The series includes four videos filmed across Kinshasa, Dakar, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Karlsruhe and New York, and analyses the hyper-connected world as a living, breathing network of malfunctioning computer systems; frantically attempting to update its drivers, restore its memory, and debug errors to avoid redundancy or a catastrophic crash. The videos follow hybrid or cyborg protagonists between tech utopias and the mines and dumps these generate as a byproduct of their shimmering oases. They interrogate how knowledge monopolies produce ideological notions of progress that disregard and efface the historical and contemporary importance of Africa. The circle is closed in the last episode when one of the protagonists - a recomposed Boston Dynamic robot merged with an anthropomorphic mannequin - is sent to Dakar, where the story began, in a shipment of used electronics.

In 2019, Knoetze co-founded the Lo-Def Film Factory with his partner Amy Louise Wilson. The initiative is a mobile, amateur filmmaking workshop with an emphasis on co-creating and screening experimental video by and for underrepresented communities across Southern Africa.


MFA (with distinction) at Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT

2013 – 2015 Cape Town

BFA (with distinction) at Rhodes University

2009 – 2012 Grahamstown