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Open Classroom

OPEN CLASSROOM – UNSETTLING COLONIALISM FRONTIER AND INTIMATE SPACES - ‘Unsettling’ references the contemporary dislocation of normative and postpolitical descriptions of settler colonialism as an absolutely historical category. It examines the sudden discursive disappearance of its formative subjects – settler and native – in the organisation of the postcolony. Cast out of the global postapartheid imaginary, the place of the settler and native subject nonetheless endures and remains vital today in their expanding relational architectures of freedom and confinement. To unsettle these binary relations, this exhibition articulates three critical themes within the architectures of decoloniality.

The identification of subaltern complicities situates multiple postcolonial claims for recognition as a recognition also of competing claims between Others ­– women, black, sexual, religious, and ethnic – to sit at the sovereigns table. Such complicities reproduce as much as contest colonial orders of knowledge. Complicitious space operates foremost within intimate domestic and institutional geographies, and informs a contemporary relation between friendship and postcolonial violence.

The exhibition discursively deploys Zakes Mda’s (2000) isiXhosa conceptual lexicon of Ubuqaba (the unbelievers) and amaGqobhoka (the believers). amaGqobhoka are “converts” to modernity and identify as the “civilised ones”. Ubuqaba are unbelievers of the conversions’ promises, reject the terms of its framework, and advocate self-reliance and self-definition of ‘nativised’ social life. Mda’s cultural mis/translation is a counter-site of production along a frontier space, and opens alternative epistemic lines and spatial possibilities of inhabitation.

The work of Ernest Cole and Cedric Nunn are instructive for articulating a critical (black) creative process, informed by a sense of violent alienation from social belonging in the country of their birth. Similarly, the insurgent protest by staff and students in the UCT School of Architecture in 2016 towards the UCT School of Architecture – for objectifying black bodies as it sought to give recognition to them – has given pause against drawing transformation too easily along neoliberal institutional trajectories. The combined work is a careful and studied challenge to transgress the colonial matrix of knowledge relations within the imagined communities where we ought to feel at home.

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Event type: Exhibition
Date: 11th of May – 14th of July, 2017.
Artists & Curator/s: Cedric Nunn,  Ernerst Cole & Sadiq Toffa (Curator).