I’m probably not the best person to comment on contemporary art. Classical art, sure; I can appreciate a Puccini opera and Claude Monet as well as the next guy, but ask me to name some of South Africa’s, or even Africa’s top artists, I’d be stumped.
And that’s where this spectacular exhibition 'Still Here Tomorrow to High Five You Yesterday', which contains pieces curated across multiple media from a variety of visual artists, is so successful at arresting attention.
It takes viewers into an imagined future Africa in which colonisation never happened.
Zambia has entered the space race. Galactus is black. Nelson Mandela pulls a Vulcan salute on Instagram. The hovering cars are “gusheshe” E30s with VRR PHA - GP plates. Jesus is a bald, black woman.
But, as the days passed, I wondered if this really was all fancy, or if Africa truly could achieve or become what these utopian, and dystopian, scenes suggested.
The works tell no fairy tales. They are fidelitous representations of what could have been, and indeed, what could yet be achieved right here in Africa.
But it starts with Africa telling its own story; a story devoid of the pall of colonialism. A story told through our own lens, our own pen, our own canvas.
Once we start telling our own stories, the good and the bad, we take control of both the narrative, and our destiny.
A tag caught my eye on one of the works of art: TIA. For too long, this phrase has been used to explain away our inadequacies and faults.
I’d like to see a future in which, when outsiders stand amazed, looking in at our achievements, we can say with a shrug and a smile: “But, this is Africa, of course.”
* Lance Witten is the live editor for the Cape Argus.
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