THE REMAINS OF THE VISIBLE
I lived among the rural white farmers of the Eastern Cape, between Paterson and Grahamstown, for five years. Named Frontier Country.
Mamphela Ramphele, a dear friend, came to visit during that time. God, she said, its an inconceivable irony that Steve Biko’s legacy is still so needed here, today, after so long a time, in this place. Gestures of racial and labour inequality are often unintentional, so deeply rooted, so unconscious, or disingenuous, in a system of normalised injustice and surburban life. And new challenges require new forms of dissassembling. It an impossibility to be non-racist in a race-defining system, irrespective of fervent denial, it is only possible to be anti-racist; for racism exists.
Ashraf Jamal, refeshingly, in his Theory of Art urges us to refuse the pathological state - the ethical and political, the systemic and symbolic apartheid margins - which historically has suffocated South Africans. To neither swim in, nor tether ourselves to, essentialisms of racial perversity, a centering of whiteness or violences to the black psyche. “When art is not depressive or gauchely hopeful, it enables the lightness that frees South Africa from the brute template that has disfigured it” Jamal asserts. To liberate ourselves, we play both in the phosphorescence of human life and illuminate the irrational. Any provocation requires an aggressiveness towards indefatigable things, othering so normalised as to be virtually unconscious, the implied deadening of the black self, Tshepo Madlingozi’s melancholic colonial mire, and a frankness of not only transformative imagining but thinking and acting politically, individually and collectively.
1. © Margot Muir. 2021. Untitled (The black dog)
2. © Margot Muir. 2021. Untitled (The Shabat prayer)
3. © Margot Muir. 2002. Untitled (The birthday party)
4. © Margot Muir. 2004. Untitled (The capture)
5. © Margot Muir. 2020. Untitled (The ironing work)
6. © Margot Muir. 2017. Untitled (The working mother)
7. © Margot Muir. 2002. Untitled (The frontier)
8. © Margot Muir. 2020. Untitled (Beyond the window)
9. © Margot Muir. 2020 Untitled (The plate of food)
10. © Margot Muir. 2007. Untitled (Young boy with dove)