Following the success of the Dreams, Wishes and Expectations exhibition at the Voices of Women Museum in 2017, a continuation will be held at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. Curator Coral Bijoux gives us in-depth insight into the exhibition.
A colonial legacy, forbidden heritage/s and a hankering for the past in the present, to affirm an authentic African dream, is what defines the Dreams, Wishes and Expectations_RECYCLED exhibition, led by the Voices of Women at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. To consider dreaming, again as a protest and at the same time, a declaration that to ‘dream’ a world that acknowledges the individual within the collective of people is to be connected to the very soil we fight over. The dreams (framed narratives of women) that are situated in the hallways of the Castle space during this exhibition echo a past that ‘stole’ dreams and futures from people by its sheer ‘being-ness’. A letter by the curator to Jan van Riebeeck, first Commander of the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) in the Cape from 1652 to 1662, sets the tone for the Voices of Women Dreams exhibition. The letter implores Van Riebeeck as DEIC representative to ‘doe het goede (do the right thing)’. An interesting consideration is that by the time Van Riebeeck left the Cape, there were more slaves than officials stationed there, few women, some free burgers, and a smattering of children. It is, of course, not clear how many of these children were, in fact, of mixed race.
The curator’s letter asks him, ‘Wat doe je als dromen worden gestolen? (what do you do when dreams are stolen?)’ By this, it is hoped that there will be a response that breathes new life into this tiresome realisation: the realisation that the colonial presence negated many a people in the hope of blunting cultural and psychical minds; mostly because skins and languages and practices were different to theirs.
And of course, the commercial or economic imperative was paramount. This difference, which is mirrored in today’s landscape, holds true and while it attempts to, cannot negate the feminine persona in Africa. We view Gladys Mgudlandlu’s Landscape, which is a proud, yet humbly priced rendering of Eastern Cape land as opposed to Pierneef’s million-rand investment pieces – a subjective disparity – and ask this time, ‘Hoe repareren we het? (how do we repair it?)’ We consider the life of Krotoa and what appears to be her compromise in this space. Much like Sarah Baartman, we ponder on notions of compromise as mechanisms of survival and what the alternatives were/are?
During installation and the three-month exhibition period, members of the public are invited to participate by writing their letters to Van Riebeeck and by doing so, ultimately to the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) of 1652, that we may continue to engage in dialogue as well as continue to question ourselves and each other, until we confront our answers.
The exhibition will open early in 2019 and will be accompanied by walkabouts, discussions and presentations by the curator and guides of the Castle.
We also encourage you, should you not be able to view the exhibition physically, to submit your letters online at www.amazwi-voicesowfomen.com
To read more about Dreams, Wishes and Expectations_RECYCLED, purchase your copy of our December 2018 / January 2019 issue from only R18! Or continue supporting the arts and culture sector by subscribing to our monthly Creative Feel magazine from R180 per year.