This installation piece navigates the notion of living as a form of death, termed ‘necropolitics’ by Achille Mbembe. This is a communicative piece, which is in monologue towards the dead, historically colonised, coloured; mixed-race; indigenous; traded slaves; and political prisoners of South African heritage.
It re-counts acknowledgement predominantly of Namaqua culture, and Cape Coloured Afrikaans culture – which are specific to my heritage. Thus it was necessary to use cultural devices of language, tradition, dress, the body and spiritualism to deliver this expression. The physical details of this installation are intentionally delicate/ fragile, ‘untouched’, seemingly incomplete and ‘symbolic’. The languages used in this piece are English and Afrikaans – both which are rooted in my personal culture.
A maudlin communication towards the Dead histories of Coloured South African heritage and culture is measurable by the wooden floor board, which informs itself as the ‘barrier’ idea between life and death. There are intentional missing links within this piece: which is why it might have an experiential feeling of incompleteness. This is the expression. Symbolism of Death and the fragmentation of Coloured South African rooted culture, is very much a focal product of this piece.
This expression is in response to the reputation of South African Coloured peoples’ histories and heritage lacking representation. This linage of representation is responsible by the historic Western hegemonic ruling of the Dutch and English in South Africa from the early 1600s – 1900s. Essentially this means that Coloured South Africans, historically, are culturally forced in various ways, to conform to the Western/ Eurocentric knowledge system – the hegemonic – which has been enforced onto them. The progression of this cultural assimilation and socio-cultural imperialism drastically forced the minority groups to lose their cultures and traditions.
Mbembe describes this procedure as the State of exception. A procedure in which Colonisation is immune to law; instead embodies itself as a form of seizure and delimitation. Thus, the Colonising entity enforces control over geographical areas of which it doesn’t originally belong to. Colonialism enforces a spatial occupation, which relegates the colonised into a “third zone between subjecthood and objecthood”.
This procedure, historically, is enforced at a National level. Its affect is Cultural assimilation to Western knowledge systems/ the indoctrination of the colonised to lose their birth/ native cultural identity. Fragments of cultural identities remain and remind; documentation is never encouraged – usually is denied. The encouragement is in fact a prevention of the colonised in developing self-identity of their own, the colonising forcibly and intentionally create what Mbembe called Death worlds, by method of The state of exception.
This addresses the inevitable consequence of, historically colonised, Coloured South Africans’ history/ heritage/ lives/ contribution having always been limited and easily considered for erasure.
This piece is poetic to acknowledge these circumstances and is commemorate to the lives of Coloured peoples of past generations, who were forced to experience this turmoil.