PICS: Exhibition and archive showing Constantia’s forced removals launched
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Cape Town - In the month dedicated to showcasing and celebrating one's heritage, the Constantia Heritage and Education Project (CHEP) will launch its exhibition and archive, centred on the lesser known displaced communities of Groot Constantia.
'Hidden Rivers: The Untold Story of the People of Konstansie (Groot Constantia)' presented by the CHEP, UCT’s Centre for Curating the Archive and independent photographer Kent Andreasen, will launch this evening, at the Groot Constantia Wine Estate.
CHEP founding member and director, Dr Claire-Anne Lester, said it was a culmination of years of oral history work and creating a network of Constantia’s dispersed community split up by the Group Areas Act.
“These images depict myriad experiences related to home, displacement and memory, or connection to land and place,” said Lester.
The multi-faceted exhibition includes photographs, artefacts and maps, among others, with the exhibition space provided by Iziko Museums. It also includes more than 50 archival images sourced from families’ personal collections.
“It will be the first time the story of people’s forced removal from Constantia is represented in this public and visual way and I am sure it will evoke complicated emotions among those evicted and those who currently live in Constantia,” said Lester.
CHEP hopes to acquire a permanent centre for heritage preservation in Constantia where the images are placed on permanent display and accessible for generations to come.
“As the exhibition shows, the story of forced removals goes beyond land. It is about the altering texture of communities, about faith and rites of passage which also get displaced,” said Lester.
Andreasen said he hopes people will obtain a broader understanding of land removals in South Africa through the exhibition.
“District Six is the most well-known of all the stories but Constantia has just as much history, people also lost a lot more land. All loss is extremely significant but the size of the farms lost and the amount of animals and crops over the course of a few months is incredibly hard to wrap one’s head around.
“It’s about learning about that and how important collective memory is in keeping these stories alive and the role of history in moving forward as a society and communities.”