Alexander Opper

Junior Fellow


Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies
University of Bayreuth

95440 Bayreuth

Email: alexanderopper@gmail.com

Current Project

Undoing the undoings of the Johannesburg Art Gallery: For the museum yet to become

Research Interest:

Since 2009 – under the working title: Undoing Architecture – and driven by the spatial politics of Johannesburg I have generated and published a substantial body of artistic work and scholarly writing. This work sits at the core of my PhD. The research encompasses various fields, including art, architecture, urban studies, public space and photography.

Geographical Area:

Johannesburg, South Africa

Academic Vita

since April 2017

Junior Fellow at BIGSAS

since 2016

Director of the undergraduate degree programme (BArch), Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), Dept. of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Establishment and running of UNIT 1: Architecture and Infrastructure – Learning from Main Reef Road, part of UJ/FADA/Architecture’s two-year master’s programme (under the banner of Unit System Africa), University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Designer (2010) and Director of the Architecture Master’s programme, FADA, Dept. of Architecture, Bunting Road Campus, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa


Senior Lecturer at FADA, Dept. of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Master of Architecture (MARCH) with Distinction, University of the Arts (UdK), Berlin, Germany


Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS), School of Architecture and Planning, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Professional experience


Establishment and running of ELECTIVE 5: Landscapes of Worship: The Architectures of Belief and Belonging, Johannesburg, South Africa


Establishment and directorship of 'Notion Architects'


Professional registration with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (Pr Arch 20611)


Freelancing for a large range of architecture and design firms in Sout Africa and Germany

Selected paper presentations

23-26 March 2017

"Undoing the Artist's Book" - Booknesses Book Arts Colloquium: Taking Stock of the Book Arts in South Africa (International colloquium at FADA, UJ), Johannesburg, South Africa.

18-20 March 2015

"Derrière les panneaux publicitaires (Behind the Billboards)" - Viaduct 2015 - Archival Addresses: Photographies, Practices, Positionalities (International platform at FADA, UJ), Johannesburg, South Africa.

19-22 March 2014

"Separ(n)ation" - 16th ACASA Triennial Symposium on African Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA.

21-22 November 2013

"Assessing pedagogical outcomes: Some reflections on Productive 'Leakage' and the 'Folding' of the Studio into the Field" - URBAN LAB+. The Laboratory approach to Built-Environment Education, Johannesburg Colloquium, Wits (School of Architecture and Planning), Johannesburg, South Africa.

23 May 2013

"'Folding' the Studio into the Field: Some Lessons learned and shared, between Johannesburg & São Paulo" - IBSA Working Group on Human Settlements (IBSA WGHS), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Pretoria (live simulcast between Pretoria/Cape Town/Durban), South Africa.

29 April 2013

"Informal Studio: Marlboro South, Johannesburg, South Africa" with Anne Graupner (26'10 south Architects) - Baukulturwerkstatt. Weltstadt - Stadtwelten, Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (DAZ), Berlin, Germany.

16-17 April 2011

"(Not) Everything counts in large amounts: Dusty Realism and the productive 'archive' of the in between" - Synthetic Dirt, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

11-15 January 2011

"Landscapes and Trajectories of Displacement: Finding Place in Hotel Yeoville" - SAVAH Conference (Other Views: Art histories in (South) Africa and the Global South), Wits, Johannesburg, South Africa.

15-16 October 2009

"Undoing Architecture" - On Making: Integrating Approaches to Practice-Led Research in Art and Design, FADA, UJ, International colloquium, Johannesburg, South Africa.

22-24 August 2007

"The Physical Relocation of Cultural Memory and the Political Dislocation of History through Architecture" - Second International Conference of the Arts in Society, Kassel, Germany.

Master classes, roundtables, design workshops offered


Initiation and co-facilitation of a roundtable considering the innocuous term, Uitvalgrond. With Dr Jonathan Cane, of the WITS City Institute, and invited specialist presenters.


Initiator and facilitator of a drawing master class (with Lorenzo Nassimbeni and Rhett Martyn). Drawing the City into Being: Jo’burg, Above, Below and In-between. SAF/AZA. Johannesburg, South Africa.


5-day international workshop on informal settlement upgrading practices and methodologies. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.


Initiator and facilitator of Playing ball, or, a friendly between two private publics: the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Joubert Park, an interdisciplinary (art/architecture) master class addressing the failed relationship between the Johannesburg Art Gallery and Joubert Park (conceptualised as part of architect Sarah Calburn’s Rapid Thought Transport master class series). Johannesburg, South Africa.

Solo Exhibitions


Uitval: Unfolded. Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). Johannesburg, South Africa. 04-26 March.


Separ(n)ation. Goethe on Main. Johannesburg, South Africa. 24 Oct-17 Nov.

Selected Group Exhibitions


Booknesses: South African Artists’ Books. FADA Gallery. FADA. University of Johannesburg, South Africa. 24 March-05 May.


Past Imperfect // Future Present. FADA Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa. 24 Mar-01 May.


GROUP. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). Johannesburg, South Africa. 08-22 Apr.


TWENTY: Contemporary Art from South Africa. Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Appalachian State University.  North Carolina, USA. 11 Jul 2014-07 Feb 2015.


The South African Informal City Exhibition (Informal Studio: Ruimsig, a collaborative studio between UJ, FADA and 26’10 south Architects). Bus Factory. Johannesburg, South Africa. 11 Nov-11 Dec.


Cloak & Dagger: The Curtain Raiser. Security Building. Johannesburg, South Africa. 25 Nov-31 Dec.


Draw links: An exhibition of contemporary drawings. Gallery Art on Paper. Johannesburg, South Africa. 09-30 Oct.


The Spirit is not an Idea, Says the Penguin. CO-OP. Johannesburg, South Africa. 18 Mar-17 Apr.


Time’s Arrow. Johannesburg Art Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa. 21 Feb-18 Apr.


2nd Floor, Security Building. Security Building. Johannesburg, South Africa. 28 Nov.


FADA Staff Show. FADA Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa. 22 Sept-16 Oct.


The Double Body: being in space. FADA Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa. 20 May-21 Jun.


FADA Staff Show. Signage and furniture design for Gallery Art on Paper. FADA Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa.


FADA Staff Show. On Megabyte House. FADA Gallery. Johannesburg, South Africa.


Opper, Alexander (2016). Derrière les panneaux publicitaires/Behind the Billboards. In: Critical Addresses. The Archive-in-Practice. L. Farber & C. Jorgensen (ed./eds.). Johannesburg: Jacana Media. 111-122. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2015). About Time, (Or: Typological Transfers and the Case of Johannesburg’s Gas Works as an Evolution from Exploitative Industrial Machine, to No-man’s Land, to a Singular Chance to Realise an Inclusive Urban Future). In: The Johannesburg Gas Works. M. Läuferts le Roux & J. Mavunganidze (ed./eds.). Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books. 79-90. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2015). Public Art/Private Lives: The Making of ‘Hotel Yeoville’. In: Museum Transformations (Volume 4 (of a 4-volume publication), Part 3 (Museum Experiments). A. E. Coombes & R. B. Phillips (ed./eds.). Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. 439-470. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2014). Spaces of Archival Slippage and […] Things […] not necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art. In: The Fabric of Matter. The Matter of Fabric. A. Pauls (ed./eds.). Stuttgart: Akademie Schloss Solitude. 1-16. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2014). Recognising and Revealing the Public in the Photographic Constructions of Lard Buurman. In: Africa Junctions. Capturing the City. L. Buurman (ed./eds.). Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. 206-212. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2013). Ways of belonging. In: Hotel Yeoville. B. Law-Viljoen (ed./eds.). Johannesburg: Fourthwall Books. 65-80. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2010). Undoing Architecture. In: On Making: Integrating Approaches to Practice-Led Research in Art and Design (International colloquium held at FADA, UJ. 15-16 Oct 2009). L. Farber (ed./eds.). Johannesburg: FADA, UJ. 183-208. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2010). Creating meaning in architecture and furniture design in a South African context: searching for interdisciplinary lessons between two disciplines. In: Imaging Ourselves: Visual Identities in Representation (International conference held at FADA, UJ. 15 Jun 2009). L. Farber (ed./eds.). Johannesburg: FADA, UJ. 48-71. | pdf

Opper, Alexander (2010). The Art of being Public. Art South Africa Vol. 09 (02, Summer). 44-49. | pdf