I was recently invited to contribute two works to the Ik ben een Afrikander III (I am an African) group exhibition at this year’s Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. The exhibition under curatorship of Teresa Lizamore posits that Afrikaans identity is rooted in the need to confirm the African continent as homeland.

The exhibition can be viewed at the Prince Vincent Building and runs for the duration of the festival, 31 March – 7 April 2012. Here follows the artist statement for my contribution to Ik ben een Afrikander III:

“Identity emerges as a kind of unsettled space, or an unresolved question in that space, between a number of intersecting discourses. … [Until recently, we have incorrectly thought that identity is] a kind of fixed point of thought and being, a ground of action … the logic of something like a ‘true self’… [But] Identity is a process, identity is split. Identity is not a fixed point but an ambivalent point. Identity is also the relationship of the Other to oneself” (Hall 1989).


The title of this body of work takes its cue from Kenyan author and philosopher Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Decolonizing the Mind.

In order to be truly African it is necessary to liberate one’s mind from the discourses of subjugation that have cast Africans as others. For wa Thiong’o this also implied reclaiming an authentic voice in his own mother tongue, Gĩkũyũ. Part of acquiring an authentic voice however also involves renouncing the unwanted residues of imperialism – those parts of our African identities that have been tainted or corrupted by the discourse of otherness. As a social construction, identity is not static but fluid. Identity constructions may loose their meaning, applicability or even desirability over time.

Decolonizing the Mind becomes a metaphor for purging those aspects of one’s own identity that others may find offensive and that prohibits us from being at self with our otherness.

In this body of work I invoke the notion of symbolic self-mortification as a means of transcendence. I see my own work as a representation of ‘being enroute’ (as opposed to the notion of diaspora), in other words moving away from a constructed identity towards becoming someone other. In this it relates to Krog’s Begging to be black in that it addresses a process of decolonisation through “un-homing” and “re-homing” and an epistemic move towards another ontology of being


A verbis ad verbera II – From words to blows II – Review

A verbis ad verbera – From Words to Blows – Review