On Monday the 13th of April the CCA’s latest exhibition, Return to Sender, will be opening at 18h00. The Venue is Centre for African Studies Gallery, Centre for African Studies, Harry Oppenheimer Building, Upper Campus.
The stimulus for the exhibition was a collection of twentieth-century postcards of Cape Town, made by the parents of Carmel Schrire (Prof of Archaeology at Rutgers University in Prenceton, USA) who once lived in Oranjezicht in Cape Town. The collection, comprising over 300 views of the city, reflects images of landscape, beaches, the city centre, as well as sites that may have been of interest to a tourist audience. This aesthetically exquisite ‘mini-archive’ of postcards is immediately intriguing as it reveals the way well-known Cape Townian sites appeared many years ago – many of which have changed and developed substantially over the last century (see the postcard of Long Street on the right, and the postcard of Camps Bay and the Apostles on the right). Yet what is more interesting is the way these colonial postcards offer particular representations of the city — what they stand for and how they reflect their sociohistorical context.
Using the postcards as a starting point, Return to Sender aimed to both scrutinise and disrupt this colonial archive; using it to reflect on personal narratives after more than two decades of democracy and to contribute to the creative re-imagining of colonial legacies.
The exhibition comprises works by Michaelis first year fine art students as well as seven senior students and recent graduates who have mentored the first year students throughout the process. Each contributor chose a single postcard and was asked to respond to their postcard by reflecting on its sociohistorical context, on what was revealed to and hidden from the viewer and on how both the site of the original photograph and their personal experiences differed from the depicted scene. In doing so, their responses subject the postcards to new interpretations, culminating in a fascinating and diverse exhibition of a colonial archive revisited.
All are welcome; the exhibition opens at 18h00 and wine and snacks will be served. We hope to see you there!