The immensely troubling recent re-emergence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s major cities and the ongoing activities of the Rhodes Must Fall movement have served as sobering reminders of the highly contested nature of space within South African society, and the signs and symbols that function within it. We are reminded that public space, and indeed the public itself, are fractured and heterogeneous entities, divided along enforced lines of “centres” and “peripheries”, both physical and psychological. The question of what role public art can play in such a contested space thus becomes even more relevant; and the Centre for Curating the Archive’s live screening of the Whitechapel Gallery’s sold out event “Out of time, out of place: Public Art (Now)” and local panel discussion, which took place on Thursday the 16th of April, was a felicitous opportunity for exchange and debate around these evermore pressing concerns.
CCA are proudly teaming up with the innovative public arts agency, Situations, to be a key partner in this and future events. It is part of their Public Art (Now) event series. We will be setting the context through a pre-streaming discussion with local practitioners relating to public art in Cape Town and South Africa. We will also have the opportunity to direct questions to the panel in London through this partnership and can therefore feed in our own distinctive perspective to the discussion. We are also working on a longer-term relationship with Situations and look forward to this being the start of a rich conversation.
The recent events surrounding the removal of the Rhodes statue have passed from the heat of the front page; the reading audience has been desensitised to the point where this article becomes yet another voice added to the continuing back-and-forth. I would even venture to say that arguments concerning the statue are oversaturated in the media. Yet, today, Thursday 9 April, discussion has moved to the University of Cape Town Council’s vote to remove the Rhodes Statue, and to the mass meeting that takes place in Azania House (previously Bremner Building).
Round up and images of the CCA panel discussion and screening of “Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art (Now)”
We have complied a selection of images from the recent screening from of “Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art (Now)” from the Whitechapel Gallery, London in collaboration with Situations, Bristol. Also, please take a moment to read Charis de Kock’s review of the event. Situations will also be posting two blog reviews of their event shortly, which we will announce in due course.
The Rhodes Must Fall campaign at the University of Cape Town and other institutions has sparked great debate. It is a campaign centred on the fall of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, yet it speaks to much larger concerns with representation, institutional racism and transformation. These issues aptly converged in the first year Fine Art Foundation lecture theme of ‘Memorialisation’, both public and private.