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25 Jul 2010

PASS-AGES: references & footnotes in Johannesburg

PASS-AGES: references & footnotes
Center for Historical Reenactments


80 Albert Street (the old Pass Office) btwn Delvers and Polly streets 24 July till 1 August, 2010 Hours: 10am - 5pm - closed on Monday

Gabi Ngcobo
+27 820807893


Center for Historical Reenactments
South Africa

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PASS-AGES: references & footnotes

What is the relationship between art and history? How can art contextualize history and how can it affect how we receive or understand history? The 'Center for Historical Reenactments' (CHR) collaborates with artists who use these questions as the departure point for their work as they consider how society acknowledges certain historical narratives. Furthermore, CHR explores how certain constellations of artistic practices can effectively form or repeat specific histories. The center utilizes the exhibition as a site for historical and artistic research within which artists are invited to share their processes of examination. CHR's inaugural exhibition PASS-AGES: references & footnotes is such a site. It pulls together ideas that have helped shape practices of contemporary artists from South Africa alongside ideas that have and continue to shape history and our memories of it.

Located at the historical site of the Pass Office, PASS-AGES draws from artworks and texts that expose political spaces not currently recognized as sites of struggle. At The Pass Office, the most basic work of the apartheid state was accomplished: the control of black bodies across the South African landscape. The documents that may have served as testimony to the site's activities have been destroyed, thus denied their roles as witnesses and spared the interrogation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Ironically, it is this very emptiness that creates a space for us to call upon our abilities to remember and inject memory (unreliable and slippery as it may be) to the site.

It is within the context of The Pass Office that PASS-AGES: references & footnotes focuses on contemporary and historical work that explores how certain codes and cultural signifiers are repeated, universalized and preserved. The project aims to draw attention to the historical and personal references that artists have called upon in order to evolve their individual practices. These references have been displayed in a non-sterilized space that promotes exchange and an accompanying 'newspaper' featuring essays, conversations, opinions and images has been compiled to suggest the various ways of sifting through the rubble of history. PASS-AGES therefore calls for a communal and interdisciplinary investigation into the construction of historical legacies and their potential impact on the local art scene. Ultimately, the project aims to promote reinterpretations of the past through proposals for future reflections.

Participating artists are Dineo Seshee Bopape, Ernest Cole, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Zanele Muholi and Mary Sibande with contributions from Sean Jacobs, Coco Fusco, Desiree Lewis, Hlonipha Mokoena, Gabi Ngcobo and Zamani Xolo.

PASS-AGES is a curatorial project by the Center for Historical Reenactments in collaboration with the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC).

80 Albert Street (the old Pass Office) btwn Delvers and Polly streets down town Johannesburg