05.06.2009

Martha Rosler — The South Africa Tapes

Topic(s): screening | No Comments

Date/Time: 06/05/2009 12:00 am


Martha Rosler
The South Africa Tapes
Presented by Platform for Pedagogy and Light Industry
7:30pm Wednesday 06 MAY 2009
Light Industry – 220 36th Street, 5th Floor
Brooklyn, New York
Running time is aprox. 60 minutes.
For the latter part of the 20th century, South Africa’s draconian apartheid system of legally inscribed racial oppression was a point of international opprobrium and crippling international boycotts. The West’s moral disgust with the stringently oppressive racial policies, however, was undercut by its strategic military alliance with South Africa against the leftist, sometimes Soviet or Chinese-supported, anticolonial insurgencies in southern Africa. In 1990 apartheid’s approaching end was signaled by the release of Nelson Mandela, the most prominent leader of the insurgent African National Congress and the world’s longest-held political prisoner. By the time the ANC won the nation’s first multiracial elections in 1994, the colonial legacy of a deeply entrenched inequity in every area of life had become theirs to address.
In 1990, a few months after Mandela’s release, Martha Rosler accepted an invitation to visit, with the permission of the ANC to cross the lines of cultural boycott. Rosler taught video to Cape Town university students and worked with NGO-supported township community groups ratcheting up their media production. In the months she spent there, she was in contact with various groups in the radically charged political landscape, often documenting her encounters. She videotaped conversations with South Africans across the social spectrum: comfortable academics, black squatters and township residents, dissatisfied Cape Coloured tenants of public housing, colonials in Lesotho, white farmers, and the small group of colored and black people striving toward home ownership. Through these interviews and images of homes and shantytowns — interiors and exteriors, newly built or perpetually crumbling — Rosler accumulates what seems to become a body of shifting subjectivities collectivel y renegotiating what citizenship can mean in a post-colonial African state. Her resulting videotapes, in production for several years, were never formalized into completed works, but an edit focusing on housing is being screened publicly for the first time here as a VHS “rough cut” from 1995.
The artist will provide some live commentary during the screening. An informal conversation between Martha Rosler and Bosko Blagojevic will follow.
sorry to say, but $7 at the door

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