JWTC
JWTC Blog

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Resiliency (Neoliberal Happiness), Mourning, and Restoration" by Jigna Desai and Rani Neutill

Resiliency (Neoliberal Happiness), Mourning, and Restoration The physical, cognitive, psychic and affective dimensions of resiliency are used to identify and measure those factors that enable individualities and collectives to withstand and adjust to adversity. Resiliency points to how people manage harm and its impacts despite the suffering and death caused by various forms of violence and neglect, e.g. micro-aggressions, overcrowded trains, lack of necessities – health care, food, water, shelter and medicine, environmental degradation and destruction. While resiliency can be used to identify and recognize agency, strategies, and knowledge, it also can work as a demand… Here, resiliency does not imply that security is possible or life guaranteed; instead, it recognizes that exposure to harm is a constitutive process of existence for the individual and living systems and that resiliency also entails living with injury and the possibility of continuing loss… We want to borrow from ecological and justice models to imagine a different response – what we might call postcolonial restoration. Postcolonial restoration addresses harm and the distribution of vulnerabilities, but it also recognizes that loss and trauma are constitutive and continuing processes of postcolonial existence. Postcolonial restoration demands three ethical modes of response: 1) sitting with trauma, 2) implication, and 3) reparation. Neutill theorizes what it means to sit with trauma as an affective and ethical mode of being. Sitting with trauma reorients us towards an understanding of mourning as an ethical mode of relationship to loss through what I term sitting with. Neither static nor terminal, sitting with is not melancholic, but rather an ongoing dynamic process that undoes conventional notions of mourning. We may walk away from the loss and trauma, but we also come back – an interminable mourning. In this case, there is no restoration to an original or pure form prior to the wound, but a continual process of recognition; the constitutive and continuing aspects of trauma. Moreover, in recognizing the distribution of vulnerabilities, one needs to focus on the harm that is inflicted as much as the harm that is suffered –Thomas suffers, but also must account for his own complicity in inflicting harm. In understanding the distribution of vulnerabilities across the living ecosystem, one must note how one is entangled and interdependent with modes of violence without claiming impunity.... Implication in this case means the necessity of acknowledging interdependency and recognizing distributions of vulnerability that mark certain forms of violence, harm and death while abandoning others as disposable to slow deaths. The third ethical response is reparation. Increased security from the state is not demanded as a salve to heal wounds, as security cannot be achieved. But there must be an on-going attempt to salve the wound that cannot be healed. In this case, borrowing not from the more legalistic reparations (to pay), but from the ecological to repair (to rejuvenate and heal). The role of reparations is to restore not to an original unwounded state of being, but to engage in continual healing and recognition of loss and trauma in an ecological and systemic way. Reparation may never end as recognition of vulnerability and trauma continue within postcolonial restoration. As the loss continues and vulnerabilities are addressed but continue to proliferate, postcolonial restoration is an on-going process. Jigna Desai and Rani Neutill

On the Rhythms of Longing and Connectedness Neo Muyanga's "Tebello: A Tentative Operetta on Longing" by Jessica S. Ruthven

On the Rhythms of Longing and Connectedness: “Tebello: A tentative Operetta on Longing” commenced 6:00 pm Wednesday when a group of 18 choral students from Wits University entered the Wits Theatre softly, slowly, and with intention. A hush descended on the gathered audience as we watched the black-clad students in a rainbow of richly colored scarves file toward their chairs onstage. Our host and composer for the evening, Neo Muyanga, followed closely behind the students and walked to the microphone downstage house-left. As the choir concluded its song on a decrescendo, Neo explained the meaning of “tebello” and told us what the show held for us: an evening of exploration, through song and embodied movement, of the human capacity for expectation laced with longing. A soft yellow glow illuminated the stage as Neo gazed directly toward us and spoke of the history of migrant labor in the region, as well as its continued presence in the lives of many today. He told us of the distance families must learn to grow into as a result of the mass structural separation of men and their families necessitated by mining and other systems of labor. He asked us all, gathered together, to be open to feeling that expectation, longing, the spirit of resistance, and other evoked emotions as the performers weaved through their program: instrumentation and choral work, audience interaction, protest songs, and finally blues music, funk, and a nod to Augusto Boal through Roberta Estrela D’Alva’s husky and vibrant voice. There were many bright moments during the night that caught my attention—too many and varied to cover in this forum. I could speak of resistance and social change; connections between South Africa and Brazil; audience and performer group dynamics/interaction; the role of sound in embodying practice; or even my thoughts as a native Mississippian (and DEEP lover of blues and funk music) on the relationship between blues and protest songs. Instead, I’ll limit focus on one moment that connected strongly with conversations held earlier in the day at the Adler Museum lectures. At one point when the choirmaster was working with the students on a section of minor-chord music, the sopranos struggled to harmonize with the group as the aurality suffered some dissonance. The soprano farthest stage house-left scrunched up her face, shook her head, and furrowed her brows as the group hit a particularly discordant note. At another point during the night, the students dissolved into laughter—embodied in staccato breaths, long chuckles, and ripples through the group when their bodies moved from more rigid performance positions to a brief looseness of form—as an error in timing resulted in some members bursting into song while the majority remained silent. This immediately invoked for me Dilip Menon’s comments earlier in the day on “idiorrhythmy,” a concept used by Roland Barthes in “How to Live Together.” For Barthes, idiorrhythmy is a kind of productive living-together in which each person in a group recognizes and respects that others have their own individual rhythms. Through this recognition/respect, sociospatial discord in a society is reconciled. Menon invoked this idea in his introduction to Ike Anya’s lecture urging scholars to consider the everyday perspectives of the people with whom they work when theorizing happiness and other social constructs. Later, Anne Allison noted that we might think of happiness as the rhythms of living together while also recognizing the fragility of happiness and the irregularity of rhythms in daily life. In the afternoon’s panel, Tina Sideris asked us to think about temporal dissonance, while other participants in discussion questioned the role of laughter in happiness. Hearing the dissonance, errors in timing, and resulting laughter that occurred during the evening’s performance, certain questions came to mind. In addition to thinking through the relationship of individuals to collectives and integrating others’ perspectives with our own, I wonder: what is the role of discord in what we envision as “happiness”? When we speak of “happiness,” what constitutes it, for whom, and how is it deployed conceptually and materially in particular places and times? How do longings for “perfection” or ideals shape people’s experiences of joy, elation, satisfaction, and a range of other terms that are at times associated with “happiness”? Would this group of choral students be “happy” in their performance for the evening, or did the discord/errors mar their experience in any way? At the end of the evening, Neo and Roberta smiled, thanked us for joining them, and said they hoped they made us happy. As an audience member, I know the kind of unexpected glitches in the performance directly contributed to my overall “happiness” with the production as an experience. Those blips in timing and tonality, as well as Roberta’s, Neo’s, and the choral group’s embodied reaction to them, enabled a sense of closeness and connection to the performers that would have been less accessible (for me) if the performance had been seamless. Even Roberta’s later exaggerated facial expressions and asides to the audience or shout of “Surprise!” as she did something unexpected and the choir rushed to get back on track with her added, rather than detracted, to the experience. Their laughter at various points in the show enabled my own, and I felt part of something more expansive than a singular self as my laughter joined the deeper rumble of the crowd’s. So I ask again—what is the relationship of discord, dissonance, the uncertain, expectation, failed expectation, and the unexpected in our understandings of “happiness”? As a final thought, I will leave you with the following: “It reminded me of when I was a kid listening to protest songs from South Africa, and they were so powerful. Listening now, it brought back a longing, a nostalgia, and also a sadness. But the power! And the kids were so caught up in it, like when they [Roberta and Neo] were singing and the choir just jumped up so spontaneously and joined! It looked like they were moved.” This is a comment I overheard one of our JWTC participants telling another in their post-performance chat as they ambled to the bus for dinner. What he notes above is something I hear artists in Johannesburg and abroad consistently refer to as “resonance.” It indexes a profound and meaningful connection to something that moves a person in thought, action, or feeling. What, then, is the role of activism and resonance (along with its cousin empathy) to notions of happiness in contemporary South Africa? Jessica S. Ruthven University of the Witwatersrand

On Roberta Estrela D’Alva’s Performance at the Wits Medical School by Ananya Kabir

She [Roberta] wove in and out of us assembled there, in the shadow of the Health Sciences building of the Wits University Campus, and the deeper shadow of the Adler Medical Museum with its cabinets of quaint yet instantly recognisable bottles, philtres, jars, ancient stethoscopes, and other bric-a-brac of colonial medicine. Here, in the square outside, there were trees, sunlight, and the scent of smouldering salvia leaves that she bore in a small vessel. The fumes permeated us, an olfactory medium in which we became suspended. She chanted, punctuating the air with a seed-filled rattle. In white and black, heavy braids, and beads of element red, black and brown proclaiming affiliations Amazonian, transatlantic, and planetary. She was the shaman, the master of ceremonies. The microphone picking up her every word and gesture was the sacred fire. The ceremony was our defumigação. I can best translate this word as ‘purification by smoking out unwanted stuff.’ We were asked to embrace the salvia fumes to cleanse ourselves of whatever we needed to get out of our systems. Defuma, Defumador esta casa de nosso Senhor Leva pras ondas do mar O mal que aqui possa estar Smoke out, O smoker-out, this house of our Lord Carry out towards the waves of the sea The evil that may rest here Ceremony satisfactorily begun, we were drawn into a meditation/ oration/ confession/ proclamation which invoked Chango, Eshu, and the consciousness-expanding herbs of Amazonia to repudiate the very might of colonial knowledge that towered over us all. She made herself vulnerable for us by returning to the moment of losing her sister when both were but teenagers, and opened up the channels of empathy that the salvia had prepared the ground for. Inviting us to embrace intuitive wisdom and reject the need for control, Roberta performed a mestizaje of knowledge, a caboclisation of the world. Against the White Father represented by Heinemann (father of homeopathy) emerged the Preto Velho, the Old Black Man, Obatala of the orishas maybe, as the instigator of the simple question: ‘why does the European thinker have to validate my experience?’ Roberta’s evening performance with Neo Muyanga and the Wits Choir in their offering to us, Tabello: A Longing Expectaion, provided the perfect resolution of some of the processes we were invited into during the afternoon. Opening with a playful rehearsal of the choir, which deliberately blurred the edges between process and product, journey and end, Neo, Roberta, and the Choir continued with a stunning transoceanic repertoire of spoken word, blues, funk, hymns, and protest songs in English, Xhosa, and Portuguese. Ending on the memory of Zumbi of Palmares, the iconic maroon king of Brazil, the cry of ‘freedom’ resounding from the voices and bodies of the young people of the choir carried forward the rhyme of liberdade/ felicidade (freedom/ happiness) with which Roberta had closed the afternoon’s ceremony. The soaring notes of the choir’s voices and the young dancing bodies fused with the lament that the lyrics voiced, confirming their assertion of the co-existence of alegria and pena (joy and sorrow). The best kind of learning is that which compels on us a gnosis of the body! Ananya Jahanara Kabir King's College London

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On “Emoji-Con: Coding the Economy of Affect” by Jenna Ng and David Theo Goldberg by Amber Reed

The logic of desire may be parsed as the ideology of power/knowledge. Top of Form Bottom of Form
            I created this sentence using an algorithm from the University of Chicago’s “Write Your Own Academic Sentence” (http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/toys/randomsentence/write-sentence.htm). While this exercise is obviously humorous, it raises what I see as an important issue in academia itself: the highly structured confines of our disciplines. One of the benefits of this workshop is that it forces us outside of our seemingly formulaic vocabularies, methodologies, and theoretical frameworks. For instance, the focus on happiness diverts our attention from explanations of human suffering to thinking about its alternatives: satisfaction, pleasure, desire, and joy. Here, we see the dangerous confines of the algorithm.
            But, as Ng and Goldberg suggest, algorithms are also increasingly used to actually produce happiness in the contemporary world. While limiting choice might stifle possibility and creativity, do algorithms have the potential to decrease unhappiness? My own work looks at intergenerational conversations and narratives of democracy and Apartheid. One of the things that is most striking about these discourses is the negative connotations attached to certain types of “freedom” and the longing for a perceived past of structure and limitations. Many rural, black South Africans express nostalgia for a time when life was, at least in hindsight, “secure,” “stable,” “known.” I kept thinking about this during the presentation today, wondering if perhaps the ubiquity of algorithms in the world today reflects some kind of common human desire to have limited agency? This is most certainly not to say that such nostalgia actually reflects a preference for oppressive regimes or any kind of factual accounting of history; rather, it critiques the present dissatisfactions with democracy. Apartheid only becomes desirable when viewed through the lens of the present unhappiness with a system of widespread corruption and poverty. But beyond these structural inequalities, many people frame liberal democracy as “too free.” That which offers equality to all, at least in rhetoric, appears to have no moral compass and no guiding sense of right and wrong. In other words, when all beliefs and practices are given equal weight, the “algorithm” of leading a moral, good life dissolves. How might we use the metaphor of algorithms to further interrogate notions of freedom, structure, and agency in the world?
            On a last note, I’m not entirely convinced that the ideology of power/knowledge might NOT actually be at the root of the logic of desire.


Amber R. Reed, University of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Rain-making to Hydrology: Public Healing to Public Health by Charne Lavery


From rain-making to hydrology; public healing to public health

On Julie Livingston’s talk “Rain-making and other forgotten technologies”


Julie Livingstone began the evening lecture at a productive, and increasingly familiar, point: sheer shock and bafflement in the face of global ecological crisis. Given that immensity, she chose to trace a careful path through a particular, local crisis. Starting with the drying-up of Botswana’s largest dam in February of this year, she discussed the technologization of water provision in that country and its spectacular failure in the face of a sustained absence of rain. 
In Botswana in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, political authority depended on rain-making. If the leader could not produce rainfall, his tenure was likely to be short. Rain-making proceeded through a variety of technologies medicine pots symbolizing an ‘animated ecology’. Perhaps not unexpectedly, these technologies regularly failed and were gradually rationalized and replaced.
In particular, rain-making was replaced by hydrology, and rain no longer imagined as part of an animated ecology but as an object to be managed. Chiefs embraced boreholes, dams, and other technologies. The water thus produced enabled large-scale mining and cattle farming, which formed the basis for national wealth. National wealth in turn ensured the provision of free water to all citizens. However, mining and agriculture also consume the greatest percentage of Botswana’s water. This is the fragile cycle – water from wealth from mining from water – that has been shattered by drought.
Botswana’s drought cycle has accelerated as a result of global warming, to the point that drought is reported twice as often as several decades previously. As Livingstone pointed out, the classic folly of development ideology is expecting narrow technological solutions to solve what are ultimately problems of maldistribution. But what about when the substance itself runs out – when the problem is therefore not maldistribution but lack?
More generally, the telos of the developmentalist state is growth. But this, as the Botswana dam example suggests, should now be seen as ‘self-devouring growth’, a cancerous model on a human, local, and planetary scale.  Within this telos of growth, what sort of politics can lead to what sort of happiness? Or, to highlight the sense of embodied thirst and to return to the starting point of affective horror: what happiness without water?


Charne Lavery


University of the Witwatersrand

Achille's Talk on "Happiness in the Age of Animism" by William Brinkman-Clark

As the opening act of the 2015 JWTC, Achille Mbembe’s lecture on his work – in progress – about happiness began with a metaphor: contemporary thinking of happiness – in the words of Achille – resembles an “architecture of corridors that never intersect”. So before taking on the question of “how” to be happy, an inquiry that modernity reduces to what appears as an easy decision on what corridor to take (and, of course, follow through), this year’s workshop offers the opportunity to take a moment and think about happiness itself.
We use the word happiness it would seem, on a daily basis, and yet, the varied ways in which this signifier is displaced offers a kind of clue on it’s malleability; as an “inalienable right”, happiness as presented by the American Declaration of Independence suggests that it is something to be pursued, and therefore, something that can be “obtained”. This liberal idea of happiness grants “it” some sort of metaphysical essence that can be procured… if so, can it also be lost? Romantic love, we were reminded, can promise happiness through the finding of one’s “soulmate”; happiness then, would be a sort of fulfillment – through (an)other – of a constitutive void; Internet dating can systematize said fulfillment and guarantee that, whichever “part” you pick to “complete” this entity of happiness, will be the “correct” choice. If one can “find” happiness, what does it look like? If I can achieve happiness, am I done after I do? Can I buy happiness? What does it cost? Achille’s brief description of contemporary notions of happiness seem to hit the nail on the head, and with it, open up the discussion for the next 10 days: Happiness, it seems, has assumed the form – in one way or the other – of work; and work these days, is best done with the mediation of experts.
What I mean when I say that this idea really opens up the discussion is that, when Achille talks about “the form happiness assumes today”, it reminds us of how necessary it is turn away from all the metaphysical specters projected when “happiness” is thought of as something “pure”, to renounce nostalgia or longing for something lost (which maybe, was never had), and to properly historicize and contextualize happiness: it has a time, a place. There is a historical repetition of the concept happiness, yes, but always different. Hence, happiness can only be, for us, modern happiness (or postmodern, take your sides) in the times of a capitalistic regime of production. would mean that happiness is, nothing more, or nothing less, than a relational value; that is, that happiness must be thought of in the context of the possibility of its potential infinite equivalency, happiness as a part of capital’s quest for universal equivalency. Does this mean that there are no other contemporary forms of happiness? No; but I do think that they remain inaccessible to us in the same way Borges’ Chinese Encyclopedia is.
However, this still would not tackle the phenomenological aspect of happiness and life: its part in “living”, where it would seem to be closer to the condition of a category (not in the Kantian sense, as a transcendental structure of understanding, but more along the lines of Blumenberg’s description of category: an attempt to explain basic or fundamental life experiences in the world) as much as we can theorize about out ability to measure and compare happiness we don't feel about it that way…at least not entirely. Happiness then, as a category, mediates something immediate, a sort of affectation whose materiality can only exist in the flesh, but can only be attempted to reconstruct and explain through language. What I find interesting about this approach is that it would again bring us back to a certain historicity; this time of the categories that constitute any regime of historicity, to borrow François Hartog’s term.
How can we reconcile happiness as a subjective affection, only partially objectified through language, and happiness as a value that appears so objectified that it has attained a sort of universal equivalency? As challenging as it may seem, this contradiction appears as central if we are to tackle the subject of happiness: It is through the contradictions modernity creates that we can intervene it’s architecture and perhaps, make two corridors intersect.


William Brinkman-Clark

Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Brett Bailey Exhibit B - by Rodney Place


The cancellation of Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B in London and the critical squall that has blown up around it in the SA and the UK, reminded me of Sigmund Freud’s odd undertaking as the midwife of psychoanalysis.  Freud asked an artist friend to do a series of drawings demonstrating how Moses in Michelangelo’s epic sculpture, ended up in the pose he’d held for 400 years. The drawings are nice, like a horror movie where the corpse starts to move. Unlike Bailey, Freud allowed that Moses was a feeling, thinking human being before he was incarcerated in the marble tableaux.
As Freud’s animation tells, the Commandment Tablet had slipped from Moses’ arm as he stiffened in his big chair. Apparently, when Michelangelo found him, Moses had suppressed his visceral-Id in favor of his intelligent-Ego, or more his born-to-lead-Super-Ego. In short, Moses the Leader hadn’t lost his marbles by throwing them at the newly liberated children of Israel, even though they’d gone back to messing around with idols while he was up on the mountain getting concrete instructions from God.
Freud had set about in The Future of an Illusion to show that religious superstitions - now non-Globalized Others - had no future in the March of Civilization - now Global Capitalism and Contemporary Art Marketing. Oddly, according to Freud, the March would come at the cost of repression to the Civilized. They’d probably miss exotic-erotic passions and daily survival anxiety, and would have to dream them up at night, or go look at them in museums.
Civilized Thinking, particularly through psychoanalysis, has developed the incredible ability to turn oppressors into victims, as we’ve just witnessed in the Oscar Pistorius trial. What happened inside Oscar’s head has become far more important than what happened to Reeva’s body in the toilet. Remarkably, the trial judge accepted the defense argument that Reeva’s death was merely a logical consequence of Oscar’s justifiable paranoia about die swart gevaar (the black danger).
Despite Freud’s strident claims to be unpacking illusion once and for all, not once did he acknowledge that this wasn’t Moses at all, but a skillful human resemblance hewn out of a huge block of marble by Michelangelo and his co-workers.
Perhaps Freud, like contemporary art critics, was not as interested in unpacking illusion as he was in repackaging it as a more refined and exclusive version of Humanism and Civilization, to stay ahead in the illusion game? The marble was something only a bunch of twitters would pay attention to; they hadn’t a clue about History or Art.
Instead of understanding Bailey’s Super-Ego rerun of colonialism in Exhibit B, ignorant Moses-is-marble-recognizers might see instead a group of black actors being subjected to rather degrading conditions of exposure for 2014, apparently with no artistic say in the reconstruction of these tableaus to do with their own cultures and histories.  Visitors might even enquire about the actors’ conditions of employment since, unlike sculptures, these museum figures could answer back, director permitting of course.
Dumb marble-recognizers seem to rely more on their eyes than their brains when they’re having an art experience. The ignoramuses in London treated the actors in Exhibit B as real people, and referred to live chat networks rather than contemporary art discourse, can you believe?
Ivor Powell wrote in the late 90’s that in post-modernism meaning had become just another art material. Marble or actors who cares? Bailey and his critical supporters, like Freud, assume the Super-Ego still has important work to do, adding nuance to Critical Thinking, the contemporary benchmark of Global Morality.
It all goes back to the early 70’s when the US State Department declared that History had ended; all was now understood and could therefore be determined and manipulated.  The US State Department was probably just putting on a brave face. They’d just scurried out of Vietnam with their choppers between their legs and were trying to brush a lost war under the carpet. Who cared about the Vietnamese anyway; they’d missed their chance to be part of History.
Nevertheless the message was clear. History was no longer a contested and modern process of human aspiration, but instead a Theatre of Illusions where the main players were already cast in a new Western drama set to run longer than the Mousetrap.  The aspiring could count themselves lucky to occasionally get a walk-on part if someone got sick or bored, or something exotic was needed to add spice to Western staples.
Post-modernism offered a convenient marriage between the extensive ethnographic containments of 19th Century European Knowledge, and the later assertions of 20th Century Psychoanalysis that what went on inside Civilized Heads was far more important than what messy people did in their tacky reality shows.
In post-modernism, History became a sophisticated and well-articulated assertion of entitlements that played out in the arts and in neo-liberal economics. In this New World Order, the rich got richer and could write-off their donations to NGOs dealing with art and uncivilized problems. Superstitious governments clearly didn’t have the wherewithal to cope or even to have a vague idea.
Modernism in industrial South Africa had been truncated by apartheid in 1948, so post-modernism was a perfect fit. Ethnographic containments were legislated in black townships, and psychoanalytic entitlement became a way of life in the white suburbs. The Civilized Mind reached its zenith in the suburban house, a gorgeous obsessive-compulsive enclave protected by security companies. At no point were the Civilized required to engage with any other kind of reality, let alone treat it as aspiring. It was a perfect place to have Liberal anxiety attacks.
Living on the inside of your head is a difficult habit to break, with or without Facebook. It’s harder yet when a fully secured edifice is constructed to sustain the occupants’ delusions that they are valuable Civilized Minds wired to the Social Democratic State of Mind up north.
When ’94 presented an alarming opportunity for SA’s post-modern Civilized to at last open their gates and participate in SA’s 92% aspiring modern, the shit was bound to hit the fan.
After ’94 the Civilized reaction in SA has been to press the panic button labeled Freedom of Speech, relying on a helpful operator up North to understand breaches of our trying-to-be-Western (?) Constitution, and offer back-up.
However in the predominantly immigrant town of London, these delusions are harder to sustain when realities and aspirations are biting back. In this Great Library of the Civilized Mind, it turns out that these realities are no longer prepared to be taken off the shelf, flipped through, then put back again, no matter how convincing the librarian. They’re having their ’94 moment. 
A lot of white South African artists, borrowing from their Western counterparts, still treat art and images as fait accompli, a reference system like Filofax that by its very nature dwells on repetition and stereotype. Stereotype is the identikit UNWANTED, as seen on CCTV outside the gate.
Nailed on the wall outside the post-modern edifice, just above the CCTV, a sign proclaims These Premises are protected 24/7 by Freedom of Speech International.
However, venturing out of the gate and down the road a bit, for sake of argument to Soweto, there are other signs that begin to dislodge the premise that Freedom and Speech are welded together in Civilized Perpetuity.
For instance there’s one saying, Freedom wasn’t Free, and urging young township people to vote.  And all around the sign in Soweto there’s very little Speech but a lot of people speaking freely without worrying anymore whether their papers are in order like their parents once did.
Before SA had post-modern, we first needed to have modern. Let’s face it; we didn’t really have modern except an exclusive version that gave the small Afrikaans population an opportunity to enter the middle class by force in the latter half of the 20th Century. So SA artists, like other ordinary citizens, now have a similar opportunity in the 21st Century that the Constructivists had in 1916 Soviet Union, to descend into local streets in search of our modern.
In the modern, images are earned, not used. With Martha Graham, the dancer is the dance, not just an instrument sustaining old spectacle.  The modern has always been and will always be a negotiated territory to do with human aspirations and the future. That’s what makes modern so exciting and also so terrifying; it has little to do with Civilized Entitlements or Inherited Super-Egos kept alive on life support machines plugged into an aging Europe.
The shit is bound to hit the fan more often in SA as we make a modern country at last.

Rodney Place October 9th 2014.
Rodney Place is a trans-media artist who lives and works in Johannesburg

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