Jessica Brown: Musings on Collections
Clare Butcher: Exhibitions as Archives, Archives as Exhibitions: handshakes and hospitality research
David Cohen: Thinking about the Dead of Africa
Jose de Prada-Samper: Louis Anthing and the Genocide of the /Xam Bshmen
Jo-Anne Duggan: Robert McBride: Muzzled Truth / Contested Reconciliation
Jeff Guy: IMOFANEKISO – Photographic portraits from mid-nineteenth century Natal: the work of Dr R.J. Mann
Charlote Johnson: To who it may concern: Notions of the “public” in public art
Nessa Leibhammer: The Art of Daily Life: portable objects from southeast Africa
Brown Maaba: Towards a Conclusion
George Mahashe: “Motshwara Marapo” as participant observer in the archive
Grant McNulty: New institutions, new expressions: post-apartheid heritage and identity in contemporary Umbumbulu
Thokozani Mhlambi: Though Paper on the Zulu Society Archive in Pietermaritzburg
Susana Molins Lliteras: Personalising the Archive / Archiving the Person: Ismael Diadié Haidara and the Fondo Kati Library
Michael Nixon: No title available
Cóilin Parsons: Maps to Modernism: Cartography, Space and Scale in Modern Irish Literature
Mario Pissarra: How Malangatana became a giant
Andrew Putter: Biographical sketch of Duggan Cronin
Katharina Schramm: Race, Genealogy and the Genomic Archive in post-apartheid South Africa
Kylie Thomas: Photography, Apartheid and ‘The Road to Reconciliation’: Reading Jillian Edelstein’s ‘Truth and Lies’
Hedley Twidle: Cape Town, Natural History and the Literary Imagination
John Weinberg: Science, Culture and Memory in South Arica: Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Science Centres
Jill Weintroub: By Small Wagon with Full Tent: Dorothea Bleek’s Journey to Kakia, June to August 2013
John Wright: Making identities in the Thukela-Mzimbuvu region, c. 1770-c.1940. Notes towards a workshop paper
Sandy Young: Richard Hakluyt’s compilations and the development of national sensibilities
Carine Zaayman: The presence of absence: towards
Jessica Natasha Brown: Towards an Ethics of the Dust :On the care of university art collections
This research project is an attempt to delve into contemporary theory of fine art conservation-preservation in search of sites of crisis or conflict within the field, with specific reference to the care of university collections. By convention, conservation theory is closely associated with what is styled as the ‘ethics’ of conservation, though it must be noted that the two are not wholly synonymous. This seemingly incongruous term refers less to a higher moral order than it does to the philosophy and value system that underpin conservation practice, and which function to produce ethical codes of practice; essentially, the teleological and axiological facets of the discipline. The focus of this research is to investigate the decision-making models that govern the care of educational, institutional collections, using the University of Cape Town (UCT) Permanent Works of Art Collection as a point of reference. This archive, by virtue of its history, function and approach, presents precisely the equivocality of certain value judgments that provide an interesting model through which to explore the responsibilities involved in the care of collections, in terms of both the destruction and conservation-preservation of art.
Clare Butcher: Mrs Pepys and the Pandemonium of the New
There is a Brechtian maxim which calls us to proceed not from the ‘good old things’ but from the ‘bad new ones’. As we imagine and produce new forms of what Philip Glahn calls ‘social and communal structures’ we, in the archives, need to consider the reenacting of past structures, and what dramaturgy might evolve when working to repeat/rework such contingent conditions as space, time, values, public, objects. Brecht used sports as a model, or mirror, able refract the capacity of particular social structures to build public interest and invoke certain collective vision. An exhibition is another such model whereby mediation and multiple, complex encounters between those forementioned factors are literally collected and performed in a bounded space and time. In the exhibitions: Contemporary British Painting and Drawing from 1947-8 and the survey show of South African Art in 1948, we can see a kind of sports-like game of national representation and international cultural exchange happening. In these exhibitions of ‘contemporary art’ the ‘now’ of ‘modern’ cultures, knowledge of the world and notions of beauty were set to work in the spectacular arenas of a post-WWII Commonwealth and a South Africa pre-apartheid.
I wish to wrest the reading of these exhibitions from a ‘purely’ art historical one, and to situate the exhibitions’ contemporaneity within a wider socio-political and methodological field. The multiple new forms of mediation which the shows incorporated, as well as the wealth of public discourse around them at such a time in history presents an urgent opportunity to rethink both the making of archives of exhibitions and the practice of making exhibitions themselves now. Via a series of stylistic exercises, inspired by the methodology of Brecht, I wish to create a performative or event-based archive whereby the complex elements of each exhibition are distilled and formalised in various settings, using various means of reenactment. With this speculative and therefore contingent accumulation of voices, approaches, discourses and scenarios I hope to produce not only an unorthodox understanding of these exhibitions within South African cultural history but also to construct a real-time research process which goes beyond the study of exhibitions, extending into the way we give form to and perform these social and communal structures in the present.
This paper presents an early stylistic exercise which attempts to bring together voices from across a number of temporalities and geographies – attempting to ‘set the scene’ as it were for other action to take place. Mrs Pepys (a painter) is given the task of more universally situating the real objects within the exhibition in a lunchtime lecture monologue based on actual reports taken from press archives; John Rothenstein of the Tate Galleries in London who was instrumental in the execution of both exhibitions at the time and hailed as a ‘real’ art expert, shares with us his misgivings of the task of writing an art history of the present; we hear the voice of the writer Jan Verwoert who calls for more turbulence as we navigate the flightpath of modernity; and my own interjections as a writer performing or rather playing with an art historical register. The final component of the ‘piece’ will take place in the real-time of the APC workshop, allowing a collective experience where we, as readers, become audience, become experts, become complicit participants.
Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Being an isiZwe: Ndwandwe Ihubo and iziBongo in Domestic and Public Spaces
In this paper I trace the use of the Ndwandwe ihubo lesizwe and izithakazelo in the context of a hypothetical person’s life. I argue that it is such repeated use of these forms that primes their users to be receptive to the mobilisation messages of the uBumbano lwamaZwide, the association attempting to network people of Ndwandwe descent.
JM de Prada-Samper: ‘The pictures of the |xam people are in their bodies’: Presentiments, landscape and rock art in //kabbo’s country
//kabbo’s testimony about ‘Bushman presentiments’ tells about invisible signals that both people and animals felt in their bodies, warning them of impending danger or the proximity of others. Incisions and other markings in the body facilitated the transmission of these signals. The testimony opens with an intriguing reference to !gwe:, a term translated by Lloyd as ‘letters’ but which very likely means ‘pictures’. This makes possible to establish a connection between the ‘presentiments’ and the rock engravings, incisions on rock with which the /xam marked many places of their territory. The fact that ‘Bushman presentiments’ is set in a very specific landscape which includes to engraved hills reinforces this connection.
Alexandra Dodd: The Persistence of Empire: Unveiling transnational legacies of race in Funnyhouse of a Negro
In this chapter I explore Zambian-born, Cape Town-based theatre maker Mwenya Kabwe’s contemporary (2010/2011) production of African American playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s best-known work, The Funnyhouse of a Negro, which was first professionally produced at New York City’s East End Theatre in 1964, at the height of the Civil Rights struggle in America.
I examine the production through a Victorian post-modern lens, focusing on the dominant presence of the persona of Queen Victoria, whose spectral presence overlooks the proceedings of the entire play. In Kabwe’s production, her outsize regalia and crown are installed in the corner of the stage, so the echo of her imperial presence is never quite absent from the unfolding narrative. I look at the influence of the work of Mary Sibande and Yinka Shonibare on Kabwe’s adaptation of Kennedy’s play, considering the inventive and path-cutting ways in which these contemporary artists have similarly engaged with the Victorian legacy in a post-modern, post-colonial context. I also draw on an interview with Kabwe about her own creative and political responses to the omnipresent imperial legacy of Queen Victoria in post-independence Africa and how this haunting shaped her adaptation and staging of Kennedy’s play.
This essay was written with reference to Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, Engseng Ho’s Empire Through Diasporic Eyes: A View from the Other Boat and Jennifer deVere Brody’s Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity and Victorian Culture, in which she shows that Victorian culture was bound inextricably to various forms and figures of blackness. Kennedy’s play explores the excruciating personal reality of this entangled inheritance through the tortured character of Sarah.
I explore the implications of the resuscitation of Kennedy’s text by Kabwe and the ways in which Kabwe’s production shines a light on the insidiousness of our colonial inheritance which, although apparently dormant and defunct, lies just beneath the surface of contemporary South African cultural landscapes and identity politics, perhaps playing more of a powerful role in shaping our everyday actions and thinking than we might perceive. I focus on the translation of the play from civil rights-era America to post-apartheid South Africa, looking at the temporal and geographic leap, and the perplexing diasporic persistence in contemporary South Africa of the same torturous racial identity issues tackled by Kennedy half a century ago in 1960, when she penned the play.
Megan Greenwood: Watchful Witness: Memory-Work and the Crypt Centre of Memory and Witness of St George’s Cathedral
There are two predominant modes of remembering the past in the contemporary post-apartheid South African context. One, which works towards developing a national narrative, remembers the past as constituted by struggle towards freedom through overcoming the oppression and injustice of apartheid. A second mode of remembrance, exemplified by the 1996 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), assumes that remembrance of the trauma of the past is part of a process that leads towards healing, reconciliation and unity. Underlying both modes is the objective of bringing social cohesion.
One readily associates the Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr, Cape Town, with the second mode of remembrance. Not only did the Cathedral's Archbishop Desmond Tutu play an integral role in the TRC process, but the discourse of the TRC’s mode of remembrance was embedded in Christian theology, which is foundational to the Cathedral's contemporary practice as a Christian faith-based institution. One would therefore surmise that, should the Cathedral begin to engage in remembrance-work in the post-apartheid context, it would resemble the mode of the TRC. However, as this paper seeks to demonstrate, the Cathedral's Crypt Centre of Memory and Witness, founded in 2009, pursues remembrance towards a different end. By using museum exhibition modality, the Cathedral’s Crypt Centre uses remembrance to engage in a practice of socialisation, asserting itself into the civic arena as a place for deliberative activity to explore modes of citizenship in a post-new South Africa, globally-interconnected context.
Mona Hakimi: Protea Village Bishopscourt Breyani: The emergence of a post-community
This paper is based on ethnographic research with people who were involved in a recent land claim case in Cape Town, South Africa. It explores the thoughts and experiences of a core group of claimants of the dispossessed land at Protea Village and the larger network of people involved in the restitution process. The main focus of this paper is the notion of ‘community’ and how it manifests in a complicated, post-Apartheid context. In tracing ideas and acts of community, the persistence of the past is a recurrent theme. This paper analyses the lived realities of Protea people at court, in their homes and at their church. At court, the past of Protea is entangled with the present legitimacy of the communal land claim. At homes, communal practices that demonstrate a continuity with the past are evident. At church, while the past persists, the generation of a new kind of breyani community is taking place. This paper concludes that Protea people transcend the limitations of the concept of community to constitute a post-community.
Carolyn Hamilton and John Wright: Researching the History of the KwaZulu-Natal Region, c.1750 – c.1830: Introduction to a proposed set of essays
Our aim in this book is to publish a selection of the essays, some previously published, others not, which we have researched and written, jointly and individually, since the mid-1980s on the history of the KwaZulu-Natal region from the mid-eighteenth century to about 1830. This period, which culminates in the emergence of the Zulu kingdom under Shaka, has long been a key focus in both popular history-writing and academic research. The issues that we raise in the essays are directly relevant to the writing of southern African ‘precolonial’ history more generally. In selecting particular essays for publication, we aim to highlight our contributions in the following spheres of research: 1) empirical studies of the period; 2) critical historiography of southern Africa’s ‘precolonial’ past; 3) analysis of the provenance and meanings of the recorded oral histories which form a prime source of evidence on the period; 4) the making of collective identities in the KwaZulu-Natal region in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; 5) critical examination of ways in which Shaka has been imagined; 6) the historical ‘entanglements’ of ideas propounded by black commentators and by white commentators on the history of the KwaZulu-Natal region in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Brown Bavusile Maaba: The repatriation of the ANC material to Fort Hare: the early years
In this paper I argue that the repatriation of (tangible) heritage is a daunting and challenging task. I look at the repatriation of African National Congress (ANC) to the University of Fort Hare as a case in point, demonstrating that the repatriation of archival consignment requires proper coordination and cooperation, skills and the necessary infrastructure to house the material. I show that without these various requirements many problems could emerge which could harm the work of the archives. I also show that archives, in this case the ANC archives, could bring about prestige for an institution that houses such an important and rare collection and that this explains why there was a squabble for the ANC archives.
Brenton Maart: Untitled
This document is a draft of a PhD proposal for submission to UCT, undertaken within the Department of Fine Arts. It outlines the intention to develop a contemporary archive of photographs of selected buildings built by the apartheid government in previous South African homelands, supplemented with a collated digital archive on the biographies of the buildings. The research question centres on how and why certain of the buildings have been integrated into the new South African bureaucracy, while others have been neglected and allowed to fall into ruin. The document also provides an initial literature search for the fields under consideration.
George Mahashe: Dithugula tša Malefokane: framing the ethnographic photographic archive at Iziko South African Museum made by EJ and JD Krige in Bolobedu
The paper aims to introduce a collection of ethnographic photographs, which are residues of a collaborative encounter in the fashion of participant-observation of anthropologists EJ & JD Krige’s fieldwork and Balobedu during the 1930s. The encounter led to the wider reinvention of the knowledge that is Khelobedu in the book, The Realm of a Rain Queen: A study of the pattern of Lovedu society. To introduce this archive, I try to paint my conception of what an ‘ancestor archive’ might be, and frame the Krige archive as an ‘ancestor archive’ by exploring the complex of Ho Phasa, a ritual event used to placate the ancestors as a cure for the violent potential inherent in their archive.Imagining Ho phasa around a collaborative polarity between Ditaola (the doctor/diviner’s divination bones) and Dithugula (historical or sacred object/thing possessed by a family), a polarity in need of mediation or conducting whose aim is to circulate knowledge housed under the ‘ancestor archive’. Mostly, I introduce the idea of the said archive as Dithugula tša Malefokwane, framing the photographic as sacred objects/things of the Kriges and Balobedu, who I see as the common ancestors to the knowledge inherent in this archive. I carve out a space for the invention of Motshwara Marapo; the character that conducts the space in between.
Jesmael Mataga: The Immobilised Museum and Emergent Spaces in Zimbabwe ii: The Spiritual and the Sacred, 1980-2010
My previous papers considered the museum in independent Zimbabwe as unprioritised, tainted and spaces sustaining colonial collections, narratives and representation. Colonial exhibits and collections in the museum have remained unchanged but new spaces for representation and commemoration have emerged, as counter to colonial modes of representation and as alternative platforms in the postcolonial period. Three distinct spaces, outside of the museum have emerged since the 1980s. The first category is the archaeological sites and monuments, which, in the postcolony, have been re-interpreted, challenging the long history of locals’ disenfranchisement at these sites. The reinterpretation is manifest in new forms of museums (site interpretive centres, community museums and theme parks). Second is the (re)emergence of landscape, especially spiritual/sacred sites. Sites associated with African spirituality, spirit mediums and heroes/heroines have been professionalised as ‘intangible heritage’. Thirdly, there are sites of the struggle i.e. spaces associated with the fight against white colonial rule presented as ‘Liberation Heritage’ and manifesting in heroes acres/shrines, liberation routes memorials and museums. I seek to present a survey of these ‘new’ spaces as important sites for reproducing narratives of the country’s past and heritage but also as platforms for economic and cultural restitution and redress. Questions asked include: what narratives are produced/foregrounded and which ones are foreshadowed at these sites, what archive is marshalled in creation of these narratives (oral, documentary or otherwise), and how are these spaces used and who controls their use for what purpose? In this paper I focus on the second category of sites i.e. the spiritual and sacred sites.
Grant McNulty: History and custodianship in Umbumbulu: contemporary identity politics in KwaZulu-Natal
For the most part of the twentieth century, South Africa’s political landscape was dominated by a generic notion of Zuluness, used to strengthen Zulu nationalist sentiments in the first part of the century and later in the form of the Inkatha Freedom Party, a Zulu political party led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Buthelezi drew heavily on the past and manipulated traditional ‘Zulu’ cultural symbols in order to consolidate a regional powerbase in the former Bantustan of KwaZulu, which, towards the end of apartheid, contributed to considerable violent conflict in much of KwaZulu and political instability in South Africa as a whole.
A post-apartheid and post-Zulu political space has now opened and emergent cultural movements point to a widespread and growing opposition to the idea of a homogenous Zulu people. This paper explores contemporary expressions of identity, and appeals for cultural recognition and restitution in Umbumbulu, an area that has deep historical disassociations from centralised Zulu power and identity. It looks at how history is produced and by whom, at claims to custodianship of the past, and the way in which it is used as a resource in the present. In doing so, it considers the blurred distinction between custodianship and the production of history and the extent to which custodial impulses and the productive are intertwined. The paper reveals significant disputation within one of the emerging cultural movements, as well as a major contestation between the Zulu Royal House, which seeks to maintain its historic monopoly and custodianship of generic ‘Zulu’ traditions and customs, and these cultural groups, which are calling for recognition of pre-Zulu customs, traditions and more localised identities.
Litheko Modisane: Flashes of Modernity: Heritage According to Cinema
Through a reading of African Jim (1949), the essay reflects on the construction of African
Experiences of modernity in early South African black-centered cinema. The reading is meant to facilitate an inquiry into the concept of heritage of modernity from the perspective of the textual interpellation of black South Africans in black-centered cinema. Considering the historical inequalities attendant on the production of film in South Africa, and the depiction of modernity within predominantly black settings, the essay is intended to shed light on the contradictions of historical and cultural inheritances from the perspective of film. Central to the inquiry is the question of the possibility of understanding heritage as complex and negotiable, sometimes in unexpected but productive ways. It is hoped that this essay will make possible, the theorization of the role of film in relation to heritage discourse in the post-apartheid period in particular and the post-repressive regime societies in general.
Elsemi Olwage: Remembering and re-imagining: the role of the past in navigating current social realities on a San resettlement farm
This paper is based on research conducted on a San re-settlement farm situated in a seemingly remote corner of central-east Namibia. It explores the complex and often ambiguous ways in which the past becomes intertwined with the present in a context where historical contingencies severely impact on the attempts of Ju/’hoansi-speaking people to re-imagine and create new forms of livelihoods. Moreover, it looks at the ways in which the Ju/’hoansi-speaking people that live on this reclaimed piece of land struggle with, negotiate, and creatively engage with a certain Bushman legacy identity in trying to actualize their desire for change. Thus, this study will show the work the past is made to do within the daily negotiations of the Ju/’hoansi with other, usually more powerful actors, especially through the mobilization and refashioning of cultural heritages, inherited ways of knowing, and experiential knowledges.
Mario Pissarra: Through the lenses of decolonisation: Reading colonial and postcolonial Africa in and through the paintings of Sam Ntiro and Malangatana Ngwenya
This proposal outlines the rationale and methodology for a comparative study of two under-researched foundational figures in the history of modern art in Africa, Sam Ntiro and Malangatana. The study situates their life and work within the pre and post independence contexts of Africa, specifically Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. It aims to contribute towards the development of a theory of art and decolonisation, as a relevant critical framework for the interpretation of the work of Africa’s pioneering modernists.
Andrew Putter: Untitled
Having only recently begun my masters, I have used this paper to introduce myself. In it, I look at the way in which aesthetic encounters over the last decade have turned me into someone that has become interested in ‘Africa.’ The most important of these encounters has been with the ethnographic photographs of Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin, who made this work in southern Africa from the teens to the late 1930s. After discussing Duggan-Cronin’s work and why it interests me as an artist, my paper makes an abrupt turn into another realm: the practical reasons for deciding to do my Masters in film-based photography.
Janie Swanepoel: Spaces around spices: Reminiscences of the past, and perceptions of the present
This paper is about an anthropological field study that examined a small spice-trading store in Durban inner city. It analyses the day-to-day practices, perceptions and life narratives, to illustrate the ways in which the past manifested itself in the present. By understanding place as a ‘practised place’, it also shows how trading tactics can negotiate the limits etched in by historical processes, and the ways in which heritage and history were mobilised to assert identity in a complex post-apartheid space.
Hedley Twidle: ‘In a country where you couldn’t make this shit up’? (Some thoughts on) literary non-fiction in South Africa
In the last few years, several critics have suggested that the most significant contemporary writing in South Africa is emerging in non-fictional modes. The work of authors like Antony Altbeker, Peter Harris, Antjie Krog, Jonny Steinberg and Ivan Vladislavić ‘almost convinces one’, in the words of one acclaimed novelist, ‘that fiction has become redundant in this country’. This piece sets out to ask why such claims are being made now, and what they can tell us about the status of the literary in contemporary South Africa. What, after all, does the word signify in a phrase like ‘literary non-fiction’, and how can one trace appropriate lineages for the array of non-fictional modes that are simultaneously drawn on, refashioned and blurred into each other in contemporary South African writing: investigative journalism, the prison memoir, the diary, autobiography, urban studies, microhistory and archival reconstruction.
From Tom Wolfe’s The New Journalism (1973)to JM Coetzee’s The Novel Today (1988) – and, more recently, David Shields’s Reality Hunger (2010) – the relation between ambitious non-fiction and the serious novel has often been portrayed as one of antagonism and rivalry. Yet while not wanting to dismantle the different kinds of truth-claim made by fictive and documentary modes, I suggest that instances of fiction and non-fiction from South Africa have in fact for a long time been in an unusually intense, intimate and one might even say constitutive dialogue with each other. I probe this relation by examining two encounters: the first a panel on non-fiction at the 2010 Cape Town International Book Fair (from which this piece takes its name), and the second a revealing reading, or as I will argue, misreading, of Coetzee’s Disgrace by Steinberg.
Niklas Zimmer: Still Remains: reading Basil Breakey’s fragmented contact sheets in the archive – problematising the ‘reappropriation’ of visual records in South Africa
In this paper I attempt to describe some of the difficulties that arise in reading the photographic fragments of visual history of South African jazz culture in the unpublished, ‘ephemeral’ archive of Basil Breakey’s contact sheets at Musicpics, as well as point out some of the creative potential to be uncovered in this work. I begin with a point-in-case discussion of the general changes in the practise of photographing live, local music since the more-or-less concurrent watershed period of pre-democracy/analogue and post-apartheid/digital photo-documentary work. From there I continue to integrate some of the relevant questions that various theorists have contributed to the larger discourse on photography into a more focussed discussion of imaging South African jazz culture, and how such questions may be synthesised with the burgeoning discourse on South African jazz history. In conclusion, an argument is made for re-visiting the unpublished ‘incidental’ process-work of Breakey’s in order to further and deepen the potential for visual-conceptual contributions to the overall project of ‘reappropriating’ extant records and narratives of South African jazz culture.
Mbongiseni Buthelezi: Fieldwork, Killing Time and Accidental Photographs
The quirk of being the only person with a car available to ferry an old man to his family’s pre-wedding ceremony one afternoon in Nengeni village in Nongoma has left me with a wealth of photographs of the event. Taken merely as a way of killing time, the images capture moments of a ceremony in which Ndwandwe memory has lived on in defiance of Zulu suppression since the collapse of the Ndwandwe kingdom in 1826.
I do not yet know how to think about these images. My uncertainty to work out what to do with the photographs destabilises the notion of a regime of care: to keep these images because I do not know what to do with them is to be paralysed by good fortune. It is not to subscribe to or to institute any regimented form of care. Yet the images offer me a means to think about the cultural performance and its possibilities as an archive of loss and resistance to loss. Some of the possible questions I want to tackle, therefore, are: What work does photography do in research on oral artistic forms, the kind of work I was doing when I took these images? Is this ethnographic photography? What does one do with such photographs? Archive them? What are the ethical implications of using them contemporaneously with their subjects? Who owns them and so whose permission does one need to obtain before using them?
David William Cohen: A Curator’s Fingers: Photographers, Subjects, and The Third Thing
Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment.
– Donald Hall, Poetry.November 2004
In early September 1992, during a visit to South Africa, I found some eighty photographic negatives under a layer of dust on a concrete bunk of Room 49 of the Angelo Hostel at the Eastern Rand Proprietary Mines (E.R.P.M.) on the Reef near Boksburg. The photographs, all color, offered views of leisure, recreation, and sociability in the context of the living and working regimen of a South African mine in a time before Angelo Hostel was abandoned. And, at that moment, they did so against the prevalent images, typically in black-and-white, of the senses of confinement, exploitation and oppression of the mine-labor and mine-compound system of South Africa over the decades from the late nineteenth century to the end of apartheid.
While I was unable to sort out the identity of the photographer, or the photographer’s subjects, expert assessment suggested that the photographer was himself a miner and that these were pictures contracted—jointly enacted – by the photographer and his subjects. The indeterminacies of identity of the photographer and the subjects, and the sense that these negatives were property, opened ethical and moral issues regarding handling the found negatives produced by another individual who had maintained possession of these negatives—arguably, under his mattress – until he and his colleagues were evicted from the Angelo quarters and the hostel left as a ruin.
That nine years later I exhibited these photographs for the purposes of a talk presented at Emory University, and ten years later published an essay on them in a special number of Kronos, has not relieved me of hesitation regarding the status of these images and the responsibilities taken on by the curator (me) through the simple fact of finding them…
… This essay returns to the Angelo photos, and to the piece published in Kronos, and resets the discussion around the idea of a third presence. One point is to push further the ethical dimensions of the original essay, seeking to regain a sense of the hesitation earlier inherent in the project of reading and discussing these photos. A second objective here is to press for a more open, or broader, sense of curation in which all those engaged with images, things, and ideas – from first touching them, holding them in our fingers, to organizing their analysis, conservation, exhibition – are engaged with responsibilities and duties that are associated with those engagements. And a third goal is to underline the complexities of power when ‘the third thing’ is appropriately introduced to the equation marking the relations of authorities and subjects. The ‘third’, as in Donald Hall’s poetic, or as in JM Coetzee’s Susan Barton, interrupts the austere binary, regains some of the complexity of experience, debate, and critique, and suspends authority’s privilege.
Josette Cole: Towards a research proposal
Alexandra Dodd: Pump up the Parlour: Entanglement and desire in the work of Nicholas Hlobo
As part of my broader PhD project – an exploration of the Victorian Postmodern in contemporary South African art and literature – I plan, in this paper, to imaginatively explore the unexpected spatial connotations in Nicholas Hlobo’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award exhibition, Umtshotsho (‘youth party’).
In the central installation, Isithunzi (‘shadows’) several gloopy black humanoid or alien forms are situated in a salon-style setting that conjures the restrained parlour-room antics and highly mannered mating games of 19th century novels. The setting of Hlobo’s installation could be read as Victorian, but the characters who populate the scene seem to have emerged from no man’s land – an otherworldly interzone somewhere between human and alien.
Hlobo’s dark lurking semi-human figures are so strikingly unlike any other figurative sculptures we’ve commonly encountered that they conjure new vocabularies of feeling. Rather than hankering after exhausted hand-me-down notions of cultural essentialism, his figures seem to connote an unknown and unfettered post-human future, while their setting references a familiar domestic realm and a sense of inherited European manners, restraint and propriety, instantiating odd flashes of uncertain hybridity. Taking these uninscribed moments of cultural entanglement as my starting point, I wish to explore notions of sexual restraint, alienation and liberty in Hlobo’s work.
Grappling with this inherited tangle of manners and mores, I will turn to Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture (1994), a key text in the development of hybridity theory, in which he analyses the liminality of hybridity as a paradigm of colonial anxiety. But although postcolonial theory has accounted for the complex enmeshment of European and African values and the creation of transcultural forms with the contact zones of the public sphere, there is little to account for an equivalent entanglement in the realm of intimacy and sexuality. In this paper I plan to outline how Hlobo’s work begins to articulate an embodied, physical sense of an entangled cultural inheritance.
Simon Hall: Layered landscapes: recognising multiple and contemporary identities in the recent ‘Sotho/Tswana’ past
The following notes outline themes and issues for an extended book project on the recent history of ‘Sotho/Tswana’ people in the areas to the west of the Drakensberg escarpment. The evidential core is material culture assembled through the discipline of archaeology. This project will make a contribution to changing the way in which archaeological material evidence of identity is read for the second millennium AD. This period is conventionally referred to as the Late Iron Age (LIA) or that of Later Farming Communities (LFC) depending on professional sensitivities over the narrow connotations of a label that draws specific attention to only one aspect of technology and to an ‘Age ‘ that alludes to a culturally coherent and distinct block of time.
The chronological focus is AD 1300 to 1880 and is chosen primarily because of methodological concerns. While the core of the discussion is on material culture evidence, this project is about evidential entanglement and the manner in which material culture may be animated to comment upon events, processes, changes and continuities that are broadly historical and contextually situated. Consequently, the project is also about oral and written evidence and most importantly, observed evidence; the so-called ethnographic present. It is for this period, that evidential domains can be most profitably combined. A caveat at the outset is that this disciplinary combination is not necessarily a search for interpretive coherence. Methodologically, it has already been shown that archaeological evidence provides perspectives that, for example, offset the claims of oral histories, as in the case of Vendaorigins (Loubser 1991). Different evidential domains bring their own independence that foreground the strategic bias in the way that other archives are constructed.
Carolyn Hamilton and Nessa Leibhammer: Labels and Other Archival Artefacts
In this essay we focus, in the first instance, on items collected by one individual each, held in one metropolitan museum, the Pitt-Rivers Museum, and in one local museum, the Natal Museum, relevant to the precolonial and colonial history of the area of KwaZulu-Natal between the Thukela and Mzimkhulu Rivers collected in the late colonial period.
The first half of the paper is focused, in the first instance, on the images taken, and the items of material culture collected, by Henry Balfour, the first Curator of the Pitt-Rivers Museum. The items in the Pitt-Rivers Museum offer an illuminating entry point into how metropolitan museum practices first captured material for preservation, classified and subsequently curated it, in the process characterising it and changing it.
In the second part of the paper, we focus, again in the first instance, on items from the Natal Museum obtained between 1898 and 1912 by the Museum, and its predecessor institution, the Natal Society, from the missionary, Fr. Mayr.We pay intensive attention to the particular images and objects and the stories of their collection and subsequent curation within a particular museum. We extend our first instance concern with collected photos and objects to encompass the expressive culture of the collection process and the museums, contained in photographs and objects of the collection process and the museum. We scrutinise the labels, catalogue entries, classification systems, storage boxes, shelf and display contexts to which they have been subjected, as well as their entry into public life beyond the museum. We explore this expanded body of objects and photographs to illuminate the relations of production of the archive of material pertinent to discussions of identity of the Zululand-Natal area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By focusing closely on the processes of collection and preservation and their wider contexts, we generate materials, of the archive itself, which allow us to probe what we conceptualise as the backstory of the objects before the moment of their collection.
Where conventionally an essay on what is available as the archive to explore identities in the Natal-Zululand region around the beginning of the twentieth century would feature images of “Young Zulu Man” and “Zulu Women”, hairpins and womens’ belts, perhaps our argument is powerfully made by featuring images of silver-rimmed labels, names on the edges of glass plates, details of background railway lines in homestead scenes, boots of photographers intruding into camera shots, and our curatorial fingers positioning items for photographs. These objects and photos allow us to begin to see that that at much the same time, but also across a small span of time, sometimes in the same places, or very close by, and certainly concentrated in particular areas, not only were objects of material culture being made, and collected, photographs taken, ethnographic observations noted, and contemporary politics performed, but also that the colonial official, James Stuart, was busy collecting the testimonies that became the highly influential documented, published archive of recorded oral tradition, The James Stuart Archive.
While the essay shows moments of overlap in these activities, or resonances across a relatively short period of time, it does not make a case for specific, direct connections. Rather it draws a picture of remarkable co-presence of collectors and facilitators of various kinds within a relatively small area, operating across a relatively short period of time. The essay reveals layers of connectons between individuals and places, and connections in and out of homesteads, metropolitan anthropology and museums, as well as local anthropology and museums, that allow us to gain a picture of the web of activity that contributed key materials that contributed to the instantiation of ideas of Zulu identity and culture that were, through variety of other forces, notably political ones centered on ideas of Zulu nationalism and ethnic identity, to loom so large in the twentieth century. We are enormously interested in the visual possibilities of depicting this co-presence in small areas and connectedness across large distances, through visual organisation of text that would break the linear structure of the essay in its current form, as well as in the organisation of the photographs allowing resonances to show up in visually powerful ways.
Daniel Herwitz: Monument, Ruin and Redress in South African Heritage
Shamil Jeppie: History for Timbuktu: Aḥmad Bul‘arāf, archives, and the place of the past
I am at the very beginning of this project. I have been going to Timbuktu for a number of years where I have been shown various private manuscript collections, apart from the major state archive established in 1973. From these visits and conversations with local scholars and my searches of the available catalogues the name Aḥmad Bul‘arāf– as a writer, copyist, collector, and scholar with legal competence – stands out. There are many traces of his work in so many libraries in Timbuktu, and I have learned, far beyond too. He is a significant 20th century figure
in the intellectual and social history of Timbuktu. Perhaps he may even be the leading figure responsible for us coming to see the place as a desert repository of books. His career is my first evidence of a conscious local project of collecting and conservation. This paper is the start of what I hope will become a book about Bul‘arāf. It reflects my preliminary engagement with a limited number of sources produced by and about him available to me at present.
Fritha Langerman: Of wood and trees: locating Eden and Noah’s Ark within displays of natural history
Brown Bavusile Maaba: The repatriation of the ANC material to Fort Hare: The early years
In this paper I argue that the repatriation of (tangible) heritage is a daunting and challenging task. I look at the repatriation of the African National Congress (ANC) archives to the University of Fort Hare as a case in point. In the paper, I demonstrate that the repatriation of archival consignment requires proper coordination and cooperation, skills and the necessary infrastructure to house the material. I show that, without these various requirements, many problems could emerge which could harm the work of the archives. I also show that the archives – in this case the ANC archives – could bring about prestige for an institution that houses such an important and rare collection and that this explains why there was a squabble for the ANC archives.
Litheko Modisane: Chapter One: Film, Archive and the Public Sphere
Susana Molins Lliteras: From Toledo to Timbuktu: A life story of an archive
This paper is based on my PhD thesis proposal submitted to the Historical Studies Department at the University of Cape Town, entitled ‘Africa starts in the Pyrenees: Mahmud Ka’ti, connecting al-Andalus and Timbuktu’. It will explore the ‘life story’ of the Fondo Ka’ti archive; the processes through which it came into being and how it became recognized as such. It will offer glimpses of the types of questions that can be asked of the archive by using the methodological tools of recent analyses on the archive.I will argue for advantages of this mode of analysis and illustrate the underlying aspects that it can elucidate, which would otherwise have been overlooked if we treated the archive exclusively as a repository of historical sources. Therefore, I am treating the Fondo Ka’ti archive itself as a historical artifact, looking both at its conditions of production and well as at how its own being has in turn affected its context.
Njabulo Ndebele: The Celebratory Funeral of Eastern Cape Boxing Legend Nkosana ‘Happy Boy’ Mgxaji
Michael Nixon: Getting the Picture? Making Sense of Percival Kirby’s Photographs
Hedley Twidle: ‘In a Country Where You Couldn’t Make this Shit Up’? (Some thoughts on) literary non-fiction in South Africa
In the last few years, several critics have suggested that the most significant contemporary writing in South Africa is emerging in non-fictional modes. The work of authors like Antony Altbeker, Peter Harris, Antjie Krog, Jonny Steinberg and Ivan Vladislavić ‘almost convinces one’, in the words of one acclaimed novelist, ‘that fiction has become redundant in this country’.
This piece sets out to ask why such claims are being made now, and what they can tell us about the status of the literary in contemporary South Africa. What, after all, does the word signify in a phrase like ‘literary non-fiction’, and how can one trace appropriate lineages for the array of non-fictional modes that are simultaneously drawn on, refashioned and blurred into each other in contemporary South African writing: investigative journalism, the prison memoir, the diary, life-writing, urban studies, microhistory and archival reconstruction.
From Tom Wolfe’s The New Journalism (1973)to J. M. Coetzee’s ‘The Novel Today’ (1988), the relation between ambitious non-fiction and the serious novel has often been portrayed as one of antagonism and rivalry. Yet while not wanting to dismantle the different kinds of truth-claim made by fictive and documentary modes, I suggest that instances of fiction and non-fiction from South Africa have in fact for a long time been in an unusually intense, intimate and one might even say constitutive dialogue with each other. A critical methodology able to read such texts in counterpoint – sensitive to the ethical implications and contests of meaning as writers translate experience back and forth across the fiction / non-fiction divide – seems vital in accounting for the full scope of literary production in contemporary South Africa.
Nick Shepherd: Archaeology and ‘regimes of care’
In this visual essay I set in play a broadly Foucauldian notion of “regimes of care”, as a way of thinking about disciplinary knowledges and practices in relation to forms of epistemic violence. I take as a case study the exhumation of human remains from Oakhurst Cave on the southern Cape coast by John Goodwin and assistants between 1932 and 1935. The regimes of care which produced the particular forms of interment of the dead (on beds of sea-grass, the bodies flexed and painted with ochre so that the dead mirror the living, below whose sleeping hollows they lie) are doubled by a different and competing regime of care, that of the archaeologist. One pair of hands pats the soil home, a second removes it via the actions of a trowel. Subject to the disciplinary regime of the museum/ archive, the remains are photographed, plotted, bagged, numbered, accessioned, archived and described via a form of textual practice, which I have called ‘bare description’.
I speculate that archaeological regimes of care are founded on three forms of epistemic violence: a violence of objectification, a violence of excision (cutting), and a violence of abstraction and alienation. In the last, embedded claims are forced to yield to an abstraction, and the powerful, polysemous and ambivalent relation between the living and the dead is converted into a relation of knowledge: bare bones meet bare description. Using images form the Goodwin Archive, I explore these various claims and ideas.
John Wright: Ndukwana kaMbengwana as Oral Historian, 1897 – 1903
The importance of the James Stuart Collection and of the volumes of the James Stuart Archive as sources of information on the history of what is now KwaZulu-Natal from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth century has long been recognised. Stuart’s career as a recorder of oral histories in the period from the late 1890s to the early 1920s has for some time now been the subject of academic research.
Needed now are detailed studies of the lives and testimonies of his major informants, and of the particular contexts in which they engaged with Stuart. This paper aims to sketch out what is known of the life of Ndukwana kaMbengwana, and of his career as an oral historian. He was much the most important of Stuart’s informants in the early stages of the latter’s career, but researchers face the paradox that his life is known only through the notes on it that happen to have been made by Stuart. To understand Ndukwana, we need to understand Stuart; to understand Stuart we need to understand Ndukwana. Their careers as historians in the years 1897-1903 are inextricably intertwined.
Carine Zaayman: A compilation of the visual archive of Anne Barnard (with conceits)
This paper presents extended notes on my compilation of visual material from the archive of Lady Anne Barnard. Here I intend to explore some of the relationships between extant visual material in circulation, constituting the primary way in which Anne is imagined in the public mind. In my compilation, my strategy has been to juxtapose familiar images with some from my own work – which I have presented in earlier papers.