ArtTalk 50/30 | Post Truth
ArtTalk / Olive Schreiner

The ArtTalk 50/30 series explores the deep existential questions humanity faces with key thinkers, artists and healers. In this panel discussion the future of democracy — and the rights we hold dear — is considered against the backdrop of global (dis)information chaos and journalism’s crisis of relevance (and truth).


We are in a new kind of political uncertainty that is not exclusive to South Africa. From India to the United States, citizens globally are navigating a bewildering political landscape shaped by access to information, algorithmic control of information flow, and rampant disinformation. 


What is more ominous, disbelieving truth or believing lies? Influence and manipulation within online communities and information flows are reshaping our notions of truth and political thought. Disinformation is spread on platforms created by tech "Big Men" and exploited by political "Big Men." Journalism, in perpetual crisis, struggles for relevance and independence, while Big Tech monetises communities and extracts information rapaciously. This toxic milieu has significant consequences for democracies like South Africa and its citizens' rights.


For every Jacob Zuma, there is a Donald Trump; for every violent insurrection in KwaZulu-Natal, there is an attack on Capitol Hill. Social networking platforms, designed to maintain attention through anxiety and outrage, contribute to increasingly polarised societies. Right-wing radicalism and fascism follow a common playbook worldwide, from unsubstantiated allegations against judges to attacking the legitimacy of elections. 


In the Post-Truth ArtTalk 50/30, noteable panellists with backgrounds in journalism, literature, academia, and data science, discuss our realtime Post-Truth era and consider the recently announced Rhodes University school of Journalism’s Makhanda Resolution on the future of journalism, asking, What is to be done?


The panel, with the audience, will also explore social media manipulation during South Africa’s recent election. Using the election as a test case to examine how South Africans perceive themselves, the anxieties and beliefs tied to election issues, and the role of social networking platforms and traditional media.

Production Credits

Curators: Rucera Seethal and Niren Tolsi

Production Assistant: Shenka Naidoo




About the Artists

Dr Taryn Isaacs De Vega (Moderator) is an academic and researcher in the field of media studies, with a particular focus on media ethics, accountability, and regulation in South Africa. She completed her doctoral thesis on Media Accountability Mechanisms in South Africa with the Media Policy and Democracy Project at UNISA and advocates for media freedom, accompanied by transparency and integrity in the industry. She is an academic at the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies and works alongside civil society movements to support projects in the public interest.


Dr Siphiwo Mahala is a multi-award-winning author, playwright and academic. He is a graduate of the University of Fort Hare, holds a Masters degree in African Literature from Wits University and a PhD in English Literature from the University of South Africa. He is the author of the novel, When a Man Cries (2007), which he translated into isiXhosa under the title, Yakhal’ Indoda (2010). He also penned two short story collections, African Delights (2011) and Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories (2019), and two critically acclaimed plays, The House of Truth (2016) and Bloke and His American Bantu (2021). His latest book Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi (2022), won the Creative Non-Fiction Award at the South African Literary Awards. He is the winner of the 2021/22 PanSALB Multilingualism Award for English Literature. In 2023 he won the Emerging Researcher Award and the Students’ Choice Teaching Award in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg. He is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Johannesburg, editor of Imbiza Journal for African Writing and serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the board of the National Arts Festival.


Niren Tolsi is an award-winning South African journalist, writer and curator based in Cape Town. He is the recipient of the Ruth First Fellowship and his journalism awards include the 2009 South African Journalist of the Year (Feature category) and the 2016 South African Arts Journalist of the Year.


He is currently interested in transitioning investigative journalism into new multi-media spaces including installations and exhibitions. He is especially interested in the transformative effects of art, inclusion and repair, on survivors of intergenerational violence and trauma. His major work is the ongoing “slow journalism” project, After Marikana, with photographer Paul Botes. In 2022 he directed and co-curated the Marikana, Ten Years On exhibition and public engagement programme at the National Arts Festival. A pop-up version of this exhibition with accompanying art-making workshops has travelled to communities affected by mining and state violence. In 2016 he and the late Peter McKenzie (Durban Centre of Photography) worked on ‘The Con-Struction Cartel’ investigation and exhibition supported by the Goethe Institute and the Taco Kuiper Foundation.


He was one of the founders of The Con, a now defunct long-form and literary magazine produced in Johannesburg from 2014-2017. His areas of journalistic interest include Constitutional Law and the politics of the judiciary, the rise of Jacob Zuma, environmental crisis and authoritarianism; social justice; urban politics; fine arts; jazz music; Test cricket and the politics of food.


Kyle Findlay is a data scientist, researcher, writer, and part-time investigative journalist. He delves into social media to uncover the narratives shaping our nation and the forces trying to reshape it. With a keen focus on covert influence operations and the "commodification of online influence," he explores how these elements drive societal polarisation and fuel our post-truth era.

  • Venue: Olive Schreiner
  • Location: Monument Building
  • Ticket price: ZAR 30.00
  • Programme type: Curated Programme
  • Genre: ArtTalk
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Ages: ALL AGES

There are no performances for this show.