Decolonisation and the Scopic Regime
Installation view: Looking After Freedom. Michaelis Gallerie, 2017. Image by Carlos Marzia Studio courtesy of the Michaelis Galleries, UCT
This talk is based on my current and ongoing project on Decolonisation and the Scopic Regime.
Without falling into these traps in the quest towards engaging with the call towards decolonisation in South Africa’s education institutions, how does one pose questions or develop responses that reflect on how have we taken ownership of the ideological space that creative production occupies in the popular imagination in the face of the complexities of and representing a new post colonial if not a decolonised reality. Especially in the context of an arts space that is within the embattled terrain of the university, and still produce genuine platforms for reflection and imagination, contigent of the political and moral positions of any reflection.
Achille Mbembe in African Modes of Self Writing points out the sets of dogmas that seem to pass for African discourse in both its political and cultural dimensions, as lacking of historical criticism… and this lack reduces the discourse to three rituals:
the first ritual contradicts and refutes Western definitions of Africa and Africans by pointing out the falsehoods and bad faith they presuppose. The second denounces what the West has done (and continues to do) to Africa in the name of these definitions. The third provides so-called proofs which, by disqualifying the West’s fictional representations of Africa and refuting its claim to have a monopoly on the expression of the human in general, are supposed to open up a space in which Africans can finally narrate their own fables (self-definition) in a voice that cannot be imitated because it is authentically their own.
These rituals of discourse according to Mbembe reduce an extraordinary history to three tragic acts: slavery, colonization, and apartheid - to which globalization as a form of neo-colonisation is being added.
Through Decolonisation and the Scopic Regime the objective for me has been one of developing space that is relevant in this environment and brought together various people and their ideas that poses questions on aspects of the question at hand: the development of critical, self-reflexive, locally specific responses to knowledge production and dissemination in all its forms.