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We don’t need statues; we can preserve history in more memorable ways |

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We don’t need statues; we can preserve history in more memorable ways |

I’d such as you to take a second to think about this with me. You’re slightly woman of 5 years previous. Sitting in entrance of a mirror, you ask your self, “Do I exist?”

A reasonably heavy thought for a kid, proper?

But by way of numerous artworks that replicate upon our society, I got here to know how a younger Black woman can develop up feeling as if she’s not seen, and maybe she doesn’t exist. You see, if younger individuals don’t have constructive photos of themselves and all that continues to be are unfavorable stereotypes, this impacts their self-image.

But it additionally impacts the best way that the remainder of society treats them. I found this having lived in Cape Town for about 5 years. I felt a deep sense of dislocation and invisibility. I couldn’t see myself represented anyplace. I couldn’t see the ladies who’d raised me, those who influenced me, and those which have made South Africa what it’s immediately. I made a decision to do one thing about it.

Untitled (Heritage Day), 2013

What do you assume once you see this? If you have been a Black woman, how would it not make you are feeling? Walking down the road, what does town you reside in say to you? What symbols are current? Which histories are celebrated? And alternatively, which of them are omitted?

Public areas are rarely as impartial as they could appear. I found this once I made this efficiency (proven above) in 2013 on Heritage Day, a date celebrating the numerous cultures that make up South Africa. Cape Town is teeming with masculine structure, monuments and statues, comparable to Louis Botha on horseback in that {photograph}. This overt presence of white colonial and Afrikaner nationalist males not solely echoes a social, gender and racial divide, but it surely additionally continues to have an effect on the best way that ladies — and the best way, notably, Black girls — see themselves in relation to dominant male figures in public areas.

For this motive, amongst others, I don’t consider that we need statues. The preservation of history and the act of remembering can be achieved in more memorable and efficient ways.

Untitled (Youth Day), 2014

In 2014, as a part of a year-long public vacation collection (together with the above Youth Day efficiency), I made a decision to make use of efficiency artwork as a type of social commentary to attract individuals’s consideration to sure points in addition to addressing the absence of the Black feminine physique in memorialized public areas, particularly on public holidays.

Women’s Day was arising. I checked out what the day means — the Women’s March to the Union buildings in 1956, petitioning towards the cross legal guidelines, a device of apartheid which restricted the motion of Black residents. Juxtaposed with the hypocrisy of how girls are handled immediately, particularly in public areas (like this headline beneath), I made a decision to do one thing about it.

How do I touch upon such polar opposites? In the guise of my great-grandmother, I carried out bare-breasted, near the taxi rank in KwaLanga.

Untitled (Women’s Day), 2014

This area can also be known as Freedom Square, the place girls have been part of demonstrations towards apartheid legal guidelines. I wished to indicate I used to be not comfy with girls being seen as solely victims in society.

Then, on April 9, 2015, the Cecil John Rhodes statue was scheduled to be eliminated after a month of debates for and towards its removing by numerous stakeholders. This prompted a widespread curiosity in statues in South Africa. Opinions various, however the media targeted on problematizing the removing of statues.

That yr, I had simply begun my grasp’s on the University of Cape Town. During the time of the statue debate, I had been having recurring desires a few hen. So I began conjuring her mentally, spiritually and thru costume.

On that day, I occurred to be having a gathering with my supervisors, and so they advised me that the statue was going to fall. I advised them that I’d clarify later, however we needed to postpone the assembly as a result of I used to be going to carry out her because the statue got here down.

Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell, 2015

Her identify was Chapungu. She was a soapstone hen that was looted from Great Zimbabwe in the late 1800s, and he or she remains to be presently housed in Cecil John Rhodes’s property in Cape Town.

On that day, I embodied her existence utilizing my physique, whereas standing in the blazing solar for practically 4 hours. As the time got here, the crane got here alive. The individuals did, too — shouting, screaming, clenching their fists and taking photos of the second on their telephones and cameras. Chapungu’s wings, together with the crane, rose to declare the autumn of Cecil John Rhodes.

Euphoria stuffed the air as he turned absent from his base, whereas she remained nonetheless, very current, half an hour after his removing.

Twenty-three years after apartheid, a brand new era of radicals has arisen in South Africa. The story of Chapungu and Rhodes in the identical area and time asks essential questions associated to gender, energy, self-representation, history making and repatriation.

Through my work, I’ve realized loads concerning the world round me: how we transfer by way of areas, who we select to have fun and who we bear in mind.

Now I look in the mirror and never solely see a picture of myself, however of the ladies who’ve made me who I’m immediately. I stand tall in my work, celebrating girls’s histories, in the hope that maybe sooner or later, no little Black woman ever has to really feel like she doesn’t exist.

So Long a Letter, 2016

This submit was tailored from a TEDGlobal2017 Talk. Watch it right here: 

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