In her work, Southern African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape structures narratives through material and immaterial presences. For the eighth and final iteration of Para | Fictions, Bopape takes cues from author James Baldwin, who is known for his lyrical prose and writings on the complexity of social and psychological pressures of race, sexuality and acceptance. Bopape presents an installation that meditates upon recorded pre-colonial revolts and acts of resistance against European invasion in Africa.
It is often and commonly believed that the African continent was colonized without much fight or resistance from people within its various locales, societies and kingdoms. This is not the case; people fought, refused, rebelled and said ‘no’ – for hours, for days, for decades and centuries. This work is a meditation on time, ‘memory’, spirit and ‘no’.
The work is an ephemeral monument, a gesture made in commemoration of those acts and beings. It is comprised of bricks, gold leaf, and a sound composition made of collected recordings of the resplendent quetzal bird, mythologically known as the bird that commits suicide when held in captivity. The calls of the quetzal are mixed with sounds of the bodies of water that cradle and surround the African continent, as well as those that snake through its mass.
Bopape also draws from a story about Robert Sobukwe (1924-1978), a prominent South African political dissident, who founded the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to apartheid. Upon the arrival of new prisoners at Robben island – where Subokwe was held in solitary confinement – he had grabbed a hand full of soil, raised his fist and saluted the new (political) prisoners. The final element within this work are clay pieces, molded through a process of grabbing clay in one’s hand, forming it inside one’s fist - releasing it, letting it dry, and firing it to make it rock hard. These are tangible remnants of the exertion of energy, of agency, the potential to ‘Do’.
Lerole: footnotes (The struggle of memory against forgetting) is presented as part of Para | Fictions, a cycle of sustained investigations taking as its focus the relationship between literature and visual art through the practice of ten artists; Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, Mark Geffriaud, Laure Prouvost, Oscar Santillan, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Lucy Skaer and Rayyane Tabet. Each project on display presents a different artistic methodology, constituting a combination of each artist's visual interests and literary underpinnings, to seek the viability of repositioning ‘reference’ as ‘form’, ‘translation’ as ‘co-authorship’.