Jay Pather is Associate Professor at the UCT, Director of GIPCA and Artistic Director of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre. Recent publications include articles in Changing Metropolis ll edited by Marie Polli, Rogue Urbanism edited by Edgar Pieterse and Abdul Malik Simone and Performing Cities edited by Nicholas Whybrow. Recent art works include: Body of Evidence in Johannesburg, Den Haag and for danse afrique danse, Blind Spot for the Metropolis Biennale, Qaphela Caesar at the old Stock Exchange in downtown Johannesburg and rite, a re-imagining of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Jay is also curator for the Infecting the City Public Art Festivals and The GIPCA Live Art Festivals, serves as a juror for the International Award for Public Art and on the Board of the National Arts Festival of South Africa.
The talk considers in what ways memory, symbols of that memory and legacies of violence may shape the new country. Whether it is acknowledging that Independence after Apartheid was not a clean cut from the past nor was it a revolution that ensured the redistribution of land and wealth, the weight of a negotiated settlement has brought with it economic assymetries and societal stresses that continue to plague the society.
The need for material witness, for the actual accounts by individuals as opposed to a generalized and expedient national project, signals something even far more important than the already huge task of achieving material equity, housing and land restitution. The need to materialize this intangible abnegation and disempowerment is erupting through the cracks in a variety of ways, many of which are violent. Disenchantment, and graphic re-enactment along with denial, amnesia and erasure from others and the arguable failure of politically expedient projects such as reconciliation, national unity and social cohesion mark a difficult and complex terrain.
These areas of Memory, National Symbols and Legacy form key themes in the talk as well as that of the Body as Waste and the Human, Race, and Elusive Futures to sketch a country that continues to exemplify in its desires for erasure, it’s continued resilience as well as its debilitating legacies. Through audiovisual reference, Pather will consider the some of the responses to the questions of spillage, slippage and overflows by some contemporary South African artists.