Professor Samson KambaluBack to People

Department: Fine Art
College appointment: Fellow by Special Election
Academic position: Associate Professor of Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art
Phone: +447841683907


Professor Samson Kambalu studied at the University of Malawi (BA Fine Art and Ethnomusicology); Nottingham Trent University (MA Fine Art) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (PhD Fine Art). He is an artist and writer working in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature. His work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena for critical thought and sovereign activities. Born in Malawi Kambalu’s work fuses aspects of the Nyau culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent.
Kambalu’s first book, an autobiographical novel of his childhood upbringing in Africa, The Jive Talker, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2008 and toured around Europe for four years. He has been included in major exhibitions and projects worldwide, including the Dakar Biennale (2014, 2016), Tokyo International Art Festival (2009) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004, 2016). Kambalu, who began his academic career at the University of Malawi, has won research fellowships with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution, and was included in All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale 2015, curated by Okwui Enwezor


Professor of fine art at the Ruskin School of Art, fine art fellow at Magdalen College.


Professor Kambalu’s current practice-led research is in contemporary art and the problematic of the gift; and ‘cinema of attractions’ and its relationship to fine art praxis.


2019, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, BBC, Netflix (Actor, Translator, and consultant)

Selected Exhibitions


2020, Postcards from the Last Century, Peer, London
2019, Nyasaland Analysand, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2018, Graphomania, The James Gallery, The Graduate Centre, CUNY, New York
2017, Wounded Negatives, Zietz Mocca, Cape Town, South Africa
2017, Ghost Dance, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town South Africa
2017, Nyau Western: American Psychogeographicals, Art Basel Statements, Switzerland
2017, Red Barn Farm, Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Sweden
2016, Nyau Cinema (Black Maria), NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Miami USA
2016, Introduction to Nyau Cinema, Whitechapel Gallery, London
2016, Capsules, Mountains and Forts, Kate MacGarry, London
2015, The Unbearable Lightness of Nyau Cinema, Gallery U Mloka, Olomouc, Czech Republic
2014, Sepia Rain, Stevenson Johannesburg, South Africa
2012, Tattoo City: The First Three Chapters (with guests), Castlefield Gallery, Manchester 2009. Roseanne, Sai Gallery, Osaka, Japan
2008, The Jive Talker, book launch and installation, INIVA, London
2005, Black My Story, Nottingham Castle and Art Gallery, Nottingham
2004, Holyball Exercises and Exorcisms, Usher Gallery, Lincoln
2004, Holyballism, Art Exchange Gallery, Nottingham
2001, The Gideons’ Room, Winston Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2000, Exercise IV, Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2000, Holyball Exercises and Exorcisms, Chancellor College, Zomba, Malawi


2020, Fotofest Biennial – African Cosmologies, Houston, Texas
2020, History Without A Past – with Vincent Meessen of Venice 2015 Belgian Pavilion, Muzee, Ostend, Belgium
2020, Happy, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
2019, Dallas Media Fest, Dallas, Texas
2017, The Public Body, Artspace, Sydney, Australia
2017, Africas Capital as part of L’Afrique s’expose à La Villette ! (Africa is exposed in La Villette!), La Villette, Paris, France
2017, Cinema Mon Armour, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland
2017, Summer Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2016, Qalandiya International Biennale, Haifa, Gaza, London, Beirut, Amman, Jerusalem, Ramallah & Bethlehem
2016, Retrogarde, The Rogan Centre, University of Chicago, USA
2016, Detail is All, Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany
2016, Dakar Biennale, Senegal
2016, Liverpool Biennial, UK
2016, Art Festival Watou, Belgium
2016, Lost & Found, Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2015, Embodied Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark
2015, 50/50 New Church Museum, Cape Town
2015, Drawing Biennial, London
2015, Transformation Marathon, Serpentine Gallery. London
2015, Schema, Stevenson Cape Town, South Africa
2015, Venice Biennale, All the World’s Futures
2014, Chroma, Stevenson Cape Town, South Africa
2014, Dakar Biennial, Senegal
2014, Nyau!, Espace D’art Contemporain, Porrentury, Switzerland
2014, The Book Lovers, Artist novels project, Cricoteka, Krakow
2014, The Book Lovers, De Appel, Amsterdam
2013, The Book Lovers, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
2012, Luke Fowler: Pilgrimage from Scattered Points, HMVCurzon Wimbledon, guest artist showing Early Film, London
2009, Tokyo International Art Festival, Tokyo, Japan
2009-2010, Dialogue Among Nations, Art for Humanity, South Africa. (Part of FIFA World Cup 2010)
2008, Art Osaka, Osaka, Japan
2008, The Mausoleum of Lost Objects, INIVA, London
2008, Next We Change Earth, The New Art Exchange Gallery, Nottingham
2006, Hinterland, Nottingham
2006, Ballkünstler (Part of FIFA World Cup 2006) Museum der Bildenden Kunste, Leipzig, Germany. Artists included Kendall Geers, Greg Colson and Wim Delvoye.
2006, The Beautiful Game, Brooklyn Institute of Contemporary Arts, USA
2004, Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2004, The Barbican, London, UK.
2004, Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2004, Liverpool Biennial, UK
2004, One Step Beyond, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, UK
2003, Guess Who, Stedelijk Museum, Zwolle, The Netherlands
2003, Black My Story, Museum De Paviljoens, Almere, The Netherlands. (Artists included Jimmie Durham, Remy Jungeman, Shirana Shahbazi and Chikako Watanabe.)