Joanne Bloch | Slantways

Entanglement-2014-Web
  • 11/09/14 – 25/09/14
  • Time: 11:00 – 15:00
  • Venue: Centre for African Studies Gallery, Harry Oppenheimer Institute Building, UCT, Upper Campus, Rondebosch

Joanne Bloch’s exhibition forms part of her contribution to Fieldworks, a project initiated by the Centre for Curating the Archive with a view to stimulating awareness of the necessity and dynamism of the archive.

“Slantways presents my creative responses to a quirky, taxonomy-less object collection housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the Jagger Library.

“The collection includes colonial-era curiosities ranging from the supposed deathmask of Cecil John Rhodes (which in fact isn’t a deathmask at all) to various Victorian games, puzzles, articles of dress and other ephemera. The collection is currently on display in the foyer of the Special Collections Department in the Jagger Library reading room.

“Most of these shabby, neglected old things were assembled by UCT Chief Librarian R.F.M. Immelman between 1940 and 1970, as part of his project to build a world class library for future scholars. Initially they were often used in displays, but after 1976, in keeping with the political imperatives of the day, the focus in the archive shifted, and the object collection underwent a radical slide in status. For many years, it was all but abandoned.

“I have approached this material from a series of oblique angles, so as to question the ways we usually understand and relate to archives and archival collections. These approaches push the objects to speak in fresh ways that at the same time still acknowledge and incorporate the taint of colonialism they bear. I have focused on the less celebrated senses of hearing, smell and touch in several of the works, and also tried consciously to incorporate my own visual impairment and the imperfect way in which I see as a metaphor for more fluid and inclusive ways of feeling, understanding and knowing.” – Joanne Bloch.

Joanne Bloch’s exhibition forms part of her contribution to Fieldworks, a project initiated by the Centre for Curating the Archive with a view to stimulating awareness of the necessity and dynamism of the archive.

The term “fieldwork” is most often associated with the activities of ethnographers, geographers and anthropologists in collecting raw data from research sites. This data, or archive, is then used to produce knowledge about the subject of the fieldworker’s research. The separation of these two activities – the collection of data and the production of knowledge – is problematic in that it suggests that the archive is a finite structure. The aim of this project is to expand the notion of “fieldwork” to include both the collection of data and the production of knowledge, in addition to the methods by which and to whom this knowledge is being disseminated in the world. The result, it is hoped, will be a much more complex understanding of the archive as a structure which comprises all these very real processes, making them visible, tangible and useful, not only in research fields but also in public life.