There "in the dark archive" stored on a shelf according to their year
of origin 1972 was a series of photographs depicting the life of R. and A.
When looking at an image, you tend to believe what you see. But, often believing is a
matter of what you are able to see. If you do not have a word for an object, an idea
or a phenomenon, you are more prone to not cognitively perceive and, as a second step,
understand it. In a society, the political conditions of the world inhabited defines
the level of possible comprehension.
Simultaneously, memory works like a distorted photograph. Every time you look into the
past you rewrite it with current information and update it with recent or new
experiences. Your memory is not like a video camera. It reframes and edits events to
create a story that fits in the current world.
R. and A.´s world feels strange. Their presence seems to not belong; an irruption of
the familiar. Like the Chuppah at their wedding, a sacred Jewish symbol upon the
territory of the Shona people, so the surreally fast ageing of their children, or the
year itself, which is symbolic of Rhodesia’s troubled colonial history. 1972, seven
years after the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, marked the beginning
of a seven year guerilla war between black nationalists and the Rhodesian security
forces. This all appears weird, decontextualized, alien.
Is the carefreeness of this young, apparently ″colorblind” family, their attempt to
build a home, and their unabashed freedom of mobility inappropriate, if not provoking?
Maybe this is what it is all about. R. and A.’s narrative lies outside the
established frames of perception. Together, empowered by the vastness of their shared
life, they transcend the limitations of reality. A reality which was always
indeterminate by nature.
Yet, a photograph is never just a representation of the past. The couple perforates
the past, producing a black hole, a rupture in time and space. The image evokes a
constant NOW†, where past, present and future are all the same, and the confinements of
anthropocentric time perception is suspended. Futurism and nostalgia are inextricably
intertwined: The three women eating at the wedding, the little girl looking timidly
into the camera behind the bride, the piercing gaze of R. in the Chisipite Highlands;
they all seem to carry memories of the future. A time, where the nostalgia for the
past has been replaced by a nostalgia for the present because everything is never
R. and A. take possession of a space. It might be an utopian space. But real at the
same time. Utopian when seen from the past, but real if seen from the present. In the
realm of a Simulacrum nothing is original anymore – and truth lies in the eyes of the
If truth is stranger than fiction, how strange can fiction be? And what is real
anyway? Did R. and A. really stand at the Lake Chivero? Are they actually happy? And
if not, were they forced to smile to serve the colonial agenda of the ruling white
minority, to demonstrate the power of image control? And what about the landscape, the
wedding cake, the water slide that reaches for the sky? Are they as neutral as they
seem? Can they be harmless objects in a zone of political oppression?
R. and A. are ahead of their own future. They might live in their own world, but make
it available for everybody. It is a world in which everything is, was, and will be
possible. Where black and white makes no difference, and where, what you call home, is
no longer determined by the place you are born or raised.
But what if this is all a performance? And if yes, does it really matter? Maybe. Art
is not for the archives. It gravitates. It makes you explore the limits of the
thinkable. If a person defines a situation as real, it is real in its consequences.
And as the future is as indeterminate as your memory, it is able to constitute what is
central to everybody’s life: a realm of possibility.
Hi, I guess it is fine like this. What made you decide to get rid of the “discussing”
photos idea? Anyway, as I thought the beginning is maybe a bit much like a jump into
cold water, I tried to complement it a bit with “a” context. Just a proposal.
I started to rewrite and edit the captions also, but didn't finish as I think there is
no time to really implement another narrative strand.
TEXT BY: PHILIPP RHENSIUS
1972 is a performance-based work recorded in photographs made in collaboration with Admire Kamudzengerere.