édouard glissant on identity (1995)

glissant

 

“We will change nothing in the situation of the peoples of the world, if we do not change the belief that identity must be rooted, fixed, exclusive, and unaccommodating.”

– Édouard Glissant, in Introduction à une poétique du divers (Paris: Gallimard, 1996, p. 66)

opening tomorrow: lerato shadi – noka ya bokamoso

lerato shadi
NOKA YA BOKAMOSO: A SOLO EXHIBITION BY LERATO SHADI

2016 National Arts Festival – Grahamstown
Alumni Gallery, Albany History Museum
30 June – 10 July

Lerato Shadi invites you to her latest solo exhibition and debut National Arts Festival appearance, Noka Ya Bokamoso. This exhibition by the Mahikeng born, Berlin based video and performance artist is one of the six visual art showcases chosen for the main programme.

The exhibition features four of Shadi’s latest works; two performative installations Makhubu and Mosako Wa Nako as well as two video works Sugar & Salt and Untitled.

Curator, Joan Legalamitlwa says,

“The works on the show were purposefully selected as they weave together history as told by and through the Black female body, in its truest and sincerest form, as it should be. Noka Ya Bokamoso is about the Black subject being in control of its own narrative and also about encouraging the visitors to do some introspection when it comes to matters of identity and representation.”

Makhubu is a work performed in the days preceding the festival, executed in absence of an audience. This performance involves Shadi arduously writing in concentric circles with a red pencil, then erasing the writing, leaving traces of the text on the wall and red remnants of the rubber eraser on the floor. This work looks at the historical erasure of the Black subject within the context of Grahamstown’s problematic history as well as historic erasure in the national narrative and how that has impacted on the kinds of stories that we currently tell. The absence of an audience becomes a corporeal metaphor, emphasising the ways in which South Africans, continue to construct a sense of nationhood unaware of significant violent acts that have shaped them.

For Mosako Wa Nako, Shadi will be seated one end of the gallery space for an uninterrupted six hours a day, over the eleven days of the Festival, crocheting what looks like be a red woollen carpet. Sugar & Salt, a video work featuring Shadi and her mother consuming a mineral in the form of salt and a carbohydrate in the form of sugar, makes references to the complexities and intricacies of mother-daughter relationships.

Untitled, Shadi’s latest video work, having its world premiere at the National Arts Festival, will be shot on location in her home village of Lotlhakane, in June 2016. The work consists of a two channel video work conceptualised in three parts: the first deals with the utmost extremes of individual resistance; the second deals with how Shadi experiences the impact of colonial language; the final part is an allegory of resistance.

Shadi’s work explores problematic assumptions projected onto the Black female body and how performance, video and installation create a space for artists to engage with those preconceived notions, making the body both visible and invisible. Using time, repetitive actions as well as stillness, she questions, ‘How does one create oneself?’ rather than allowing others or history to shape one’s person.

The key aim of Noka Ya Bokamoso is to re-center Shadi’s works to its primary audience – the South African audience. Shadi has practiced and exhibited in New York, Bern, Dakar, Moscow and Scotland and now seeks to utilise her work to foster and encourage dialogue around questions of historical knowledge production and its inclusion and exclusion of certain subjects. Her ultimate goal is that she, along with her audiences, will be encouraged not only to consume, but consciously engage in the processes of unearthing subsumed histories and producing critical knowledge.

Lerato Shadi lives and works in Berlin. She completed a BFA in Fine Art from the University of Johannesburg. She was included in The Generational: ‘Younger Than Jesus’ artists directory published by the New Museum, New York. In 2010 she was awarded a Pro Helvetia residency in Bern. In the same year she had her solo exhibition Mosako Wa Seipone at Goethe on Main in Johannesburg. From 2010 to 2012 she was a member of the Bag Factory artist studios in Johannesburg. In 2012 her work was featured at the Dak’art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal and in the III Moscow International Biennale. She is a fellow of Sommerakademie 2013 (Zentrum Paul Klee) and completed in the same year a residency program by invitation of INIVA at Hospitalfield (supported by ROSL). In 2014 she was awarded with the mart stam studio grant. She is currently completing her MFA at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee.

Noka Ya Bokamoso is made possible through the generous support of the National Arts Festival.

on self knowledge

Image: Eric Rondpierre

Image: Eric Rondpierre

Self knowledge is not fully possible for human beings. We do not reside in a body, a mind or a world where it is achievable or, from the point of being interesting, even desirable. Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality, resides in the darkness of the unspoken and unarticulated and has not yet come into being: this hidden unspoken half of a person will supplant and subvert any present understandings we have about ourselves. Human beings are always, and always will be, a frontier between what is known and what is not known. The act of turning any part of the unknown into the known is simply an invitation for an equal measure of the unknown to flow in and reestablish that frontier: to reassert the far horizon of an individual life; to make us what we are – that is – a moving edge between what we know about ourselves and what we are about to become. What we are actually about to become or are afraid of becoming always trumps and rules over what we think we are already…

— David Whyte, 2014. Excerpted from “Self Knowledge”, from the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning in Everyday Words.

on the vulgarity of “identity”

I feel with some passion that what we truly are is private, and almost infinitely complex, and ambiguous, and both external and internal, and double- or triple- or multiply natured, and largely mysterious even to ourselves; and furthermore that what we are is only part of us, because identity, unlike “identity”, must include what we do.

And I think that to find oneself and every aspect of this complexity reduced in the public mind to one property that apparently subsumes all the rest (“gay”, “black”, “Muslim”, whatever) is to be the victim of a piece of extraordinary intellectual vulgarity. Literally vulgar: from vulgus. It’s crowd-thought.

— Philip Pullman

suzanne heintz – life once removed

 “A personal photography experience for public consumption.”

suzanne heintz - 01

Suzanne Heintz calls herself “the modern day patron saint of single women”. She has the following to say about her ongoing photography project, the wondrously uncanny “Life Once Removed”:

What would drive you to pack a family of mannequins into your station wagon, and take them on a road trip? Enough pressure to conform will send anyone packing.  That’s how I came to this personal project about what is essentially…Spinsterhood, and the American Way.
Well-meaning strangers, along with friends and family, would raise an eyebrow when the topic of my unmarried and childless status arose.  Indicating with a small facial twitch, not only my audacious freakishness, but that I was a little old for such foolish thinking. I mean, come on, eggs don’t last forever!

suzanne heintz - 02But really, what was I supposed to do?  You can’t just go out and buy a family.  Or can you?  I did.  They are mannequins.  The candy coated shell with nothing inside.  We do all those family things, all the while capturing those Kodak Moments.  Because it’s not really about the journey, or a genuine human connection, when your kids are screaming, “are we there yet?”, is it?  It’s about the picture in front of the sign.  “Get back in the car, we got the picture.  Now, let’s go eat.”

We love and obey the formatted image of a well-lived life.  So deeply ingrained is that strange auto-grin we put on when a camera is present.  Do we live our lives with a keen awareness of how it feels, or just how it looks?
suzanne heintz - 03If I pass through life without checking off the boxes for a wedding ring and a baby carriage, I will be missing the photo album, but not not the point.  When I take my photos, others stop and stare, then they ask, “why are you doing this?”  They, at that moment, are starting to get the point too.

heintz family christmas 1

Check out more of Suzanne’s fantastical images HERE.

burial – come down to us

Beautiful video by Alexander Petrov set to this anthem, off Burial’s brand new EP, Rival Dealer, out now on Hyperdub. I looked Petrov up because his animation style reminded me of some of the work of another Russian master, Yuri Norstein – and, indeed, he was one of Norstein’s protégés at the Advanced School for Screenwriters and Directors in Moscow.

UPDATE 17/12/13: Looks like the person who put this lovely video together has been forced to take it down for copyright reasons. That’s just wrong. It was truly an inspired combination, and I don’t know how it would have hurt the sales of either the song or the animation. Anyway. You can stream the track without the video HERE.

Still from the Alexander Petrov footage that was paired with the song.

Still from the Alexander Petrov footage that was paired with the song.

A rare, candid message from the usually silent and mysterious William Bevan, a.k.a. Burial, on Rival Dealer (via Mary Anne Hobbs’ BBC radio show):

I put my heart into the new EP; I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there cares and is looking out for them. So it’s like an angel’s spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubt.