Accepted paper:

Rootless - uncertain visibilities: expressing disquietude through video art film in Cape Town, South Africa

Authors:

N Jade Gibson (University of the Western Cape )

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents a short video art film, ‘Rootless’ which, through installation, poetic and metaphorical devices, interrogates issues concerning tourism, social memory and memorialisation in Cape Town. A ‘skeleton artwork’ was filmed in installations at specific tourist sites in central Cape Town, suggesting scenes such as an archaeological dig, interactions at controversial sites containing slave and Khoe Khoe human remains, and invoking relationships between land, memorialisation and social memory. Such techniques enable the expression of not only the unsayable but the un-visualisable, creating a visual presence to challenge surface presentations, as well as suggesting uncertainties in the present.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents a critical take on a short video art film, 'Rootless' which, through installation, poetic and metaphorical devices, interrogates issues concerning tourism, social memory and memorialisation in Cape Town, South Africa. A life-size 'skeleton artwork' was filmed in installations at specific tourist sites in central Cape Town, suggesting scenes such as an archaeological dig, interactions at controversial sites containing slave and Khoe Khoe human remains, and invoking relationships between land, memorialisation and social memory. The film creates disquietude over the ways in which Cape Town is portrayed and visualised within tourist frameworks, in relation to the reality of the dispossessed and forgotten in Cape Town, the latter to whom it is dedicated. Through the visual metaphor of the skeleton, the observer is both placed as participant of the tourist experience as well as from the perspective of past inhabitants of Cape Town. It was created as a visual experiment, to bring together and visualise research in heritage and Cape Town as a city in transition at the University of the Western Cape, in relation to concerns over land, social memory and memorialisation. The film focuses on sensory impact, using music, poetry, the reversal and slowing of film speed, and stills photographs as well as art installations, to interrogate the present while invoking the past, conjointly distancing and switching positions of subject and observer. Such techniques are argued to enable the expression of not only the unsayable but the un-visualisable within the present, creating a visual presence to challenge surface presentations, as well as suggesting uncertainties in the present.

panel W126
Anxious visions and uncertain images