April 14, 2017
April 7, 2017
March 31, 2017
March 29, 2017
February 3, 2017
first published on the web by found footage magazine here: http://foundfootagemagazine.com/en/english-threnody-marikana/
February 2, 2017
keep reading this article here: http://brooklynrail.org/2017/02/film/Action-Movies-Disruptive-Film-Everyday-Resistance-to-Power
January 2, 2017
THRENODY FOR THE VICTIMS OF MARIKANA screening at Anthology Film Archives, New York, 15 February 2016
book your tickets here: http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/film_screenings/series/46938
December 20, 2016
‘Things happen once only and are never repeated, never return. Except in memory.’(Galgut 2010, 123)
Reeling from the experience of watching Aryan Kaganof’s Night is Coming: Threnody for the Victims of Marikana, a documentary commissioned by the Hearing Landscape Critically network in conjunction with their conference at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2013, it is difficult to escape an overwhelming sense of dislocation, powerlessness, and collusion. The film forces us to confront our worst fears, namely that even as we seek to understand the environments and impulses that motivate the most brutal forms of human violence and degradation, we are inescapably implicated in their continual unfolding. Furthermore, the film irresistibly insists that our reactions as intellectuals, academics, or even simply as reluctant witnesses, ultimately compounds the histories of asymmetry, exploitation, and domination upon which such violence relies and which it ritualistically performs. It leaves us no space from which to try and comprehend the magnitude of a recent historical moment that, as Peter Alexander (2013, 131) has written, became for South Africa ‘a seismic event’, albeit one that may simply have ‘produced new faults from existing tectonic stress’. And it broadcasts our culpability, tearing away the critical veil and demanding that academic practice urgently reassess its relationship with direct action and with the institutional frameworks from which it gains and amplifies its authority.
Writing as a European scholar based at an institution that has done insufficient work thus far to redress fully the legacy of colonial oppression that it has historically helped to instate and sustain, not least in the wake of the Rhodes Must Fall protests, and as an agent whose mawkish presence in the film makes for particularly awkward viewing, is to signal a partiality that relativizes any sustained attempt at responding adequately to Kaganof’s film. Indeed, the most immediate reaction is both one of outrage and also of speechlessness, a sudden rendering mute or dumb in the face of such horror. Such silence, however, should not necessarily be mistaken for a passive acquiescence. All too often, silence is assumed to signal a turning away or refusal to engage; as Nomi Dave (2014, 19) notes, ‘silence does not simply mean an un-thought void or submission.’ Rather, in this context, the inability to speak paradoxically addresses directly a series of more searching questions posed by the film: whose right is it to speak or listen; where should such dialogues properly take place; and how can one escape the hypocrisy of writing musicologically from such a privileged platform without reinscribing precisely the same patterns of exploitation that have instigated such violence and that perpetuate its affects? In other words, how can academic writing recognise and engage effectively with what Slavoj Žižek (2008) has called violence’s objective qualities – the symbolic and systematic violence of language and its inextricably entwined relationship with the social-economic conditions of late capitalism – without losing sight, or sound, of its immediate subjective impacts, the physical damage that it leaves behind? Watching Night is Coming challenges us on at least three levels: to acknowledge the bloodshed of the Marikana massacre; to think again about the relationships between landscape, power, sight, and sound (not only in a South African context but elsewhere); and to reflect critically upon the responsibility of scholarly research and on the role of academic writing in the context of such fragile and politically charged debates – not least, in its repeated failure to respond sufficiently to violence both historically and in its immediate aftermath.
My own silence, after watching the film for the first time, was also born out of a sense of devastation: through an inability to frame or contain intellectually the historical legacy of totalitarianism which the footage of the massacre lays bare, and equally from a recognition of the limits of language and of the landscape’s excessive quality: that is, the way in which it resists any attempt at linguistic boundedness or containment. In this way, my experience of the film collided with two earlier moments of encounter with the South African landscape. The first was a screening of documentary film footage from District Six in Cape Town, a richly multi-ethnic area of the central city that was zoned for white occupation under the Apartheid government and subsequently cleared, accompanied by the Capetonian jazz pianist and composer Kyle Shepherd, at the Hearing Landscape Critically meeting – where the failure to address the Marikana massacre explicitly in its proceedings became the catalyst for Kaganof’s film. Listening to Shepherd’s sonorous and at times violent improvisation began to fill an acoustic gap opened up by the exhibition ‘Lingering Absences’, curated at the Sasol Art Museum in Stellenbosch by Lizabé Lambrechts and Ernst van der Wal in conjunction with the conference, which painfully allegorized through its austere spatial organisation of the exhibition space the ideology and practice of racial segregation that led to the bulldozing of District Six and the Apartheid regime’s attempts to control and discipline the activities of the Eoan opera group in the late 1960s. Pressing my ear to the speakers suspended along the exhibition’s sound wall, the only sounds that emerged were a faint hissing, the distant trace of passing traffic noise, and the deafeningly ambient buzz of my own nervous system.
The second, but earlier, moment of encounter was my first visit to Cape Town, twelve months previously, to give a series of lectures on music and landscape at Stellenbosch in preparation for the conference discussions the following year. On our first evening in the city, still recovering from the claustrophobia and disorientation of the flight, we wandered into the Company’s Gardens, a space overwhelmingly marked by its histories of colonial occupation, exclusion, suppression and resistance. Two large loudspeakers set up at the formal gates of the South African National Art Gallery (a venue that already serves as a highly ideological threshold) played a version of the Soviet-era popular tune, ‘V Keiptounskom Portu’ (‘In the Cape Town Port’), Pavel Gandelman’s cover of Jacob Jacobs and Sholom Secunda’s Yiddish hit ‘Bei Mir bistu Shein’ (‘To me you’re beautiful’), originally composed in 1932 for the musical comedy Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht (normally translated as ‘I would if I could’, but more accurately rendered as ‘One could live, but they won’t allow it’). The complex sedimented layers of historical presence and absence folded within the seemingly incongruous soundtrack sharply brought into focus music’s intimate and simultaneously impersonal relationship with place, territorialisation, and displacement. Marked by the scratchy, distorted sound of the speakers – a very different kind of grittiness from the barely audible background noise of the sound wall at the Sasol exhibition – our experience of the landscape was channelled by the presence of the music’s ghosts and revenants, but also by the physical bodies of those still displaced. The following day, visiting an elementary school project in Langa on the Cape Flats, the landscape assumed another set of acoustic key notes: the sound of the wind blowing dust across the township, a sudden rain storm falling like bullets on corrugated tin roofs, and the exuberant laughter of the kids in the classroom, assembled from a set of prefabricated steel containers next to a rubbish-strewn culvert.
Night is Coming prompts us to reflect more intensively upon sound and the domination of landscape. This is, in some ways, a topic that has received extensive attention in recent years. Significant lacunae, however, still remain. In the revised preface to the second edition of his seminal volume, Landscape and Power, for example, W. J. T Mitchell (2002, vii) writes:
If one wanted to continue to insist on power as the key to landscape, one would have to acknowledge that it is a relatively weak power compared to that of armies, police forces, governments, and corporations … As the background within which a figure, form, or narrative act emerges, landsape [sic] exerts the passive force of setting, scene, and sight. It is generally the ‘overlooked’, not the ‘looked at’, and it can be quite difficult to specify what exactly it means to say that one is ‘looking at the landscape’.
Mitchell’s awkward qualification illustrates the perils of attempting to conceive landscape primarily from a Western European art-historical perspective. Even the conjunction in the volume’s title, ‘Landscape and Power’, inadvertently reinforces the sense that the politics and aesthetics of landscape are somehow discrete epistemologies, in dialectic opposition, a separation which even the most superficial experience of the vivid materiality of the South African landscape (and indeed of landscapes elsewhere, such as the Israel-Palestine border discussed later in Mitchell’s volume) immediately challenges and overturns. Mitchell’s essential notion of landscape is thus premised on both distance and on a mode of elective deafness, an elevated site of critical prospect (‘looked at’/’overlooked’) which his writing briefly threatens to dismantle but ultimately reaffirms. ‘The landscape imperative is a kind of mandate to withdraw’, he suggests, ‘to draw out by drawing back from a site’ (Mitchell 2002; viii). But the testimony of the striking miners who survived the Marikana massacre, as documented by Peter Alexander, Luke Sinwell, Thalepo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope and Bonagni Xezwi, however, does not permit such an easy or deflective turning away or double motion. Rather, one of the most striking aspects of their testimony is their insistence on the acoustic quality of the landscape: ‘The workers were singing ‘makuliwe’ [isiXhosa for ‘let there be a fight’]/ We felt the force of the movement’ they recall at one point; ‘as the workers explained, “we can all sing, but we can’t all speak at once”’ (Sinwell et al 2013, 13). Alexander’s (2013:33) record of the event is similarly conceived in sonic terms, through the reported sounds of speaking voices, singing, and gunshot:
Mineworker 2 recounts that a Zulu-speaking policeman then warned that he would count to ten, and that if they had not conceded [their weapons] by then he would give the order to fire. After the counting had started the workers began singing and moved off together towards the weakest point in the police line, which was probably to the north-east, the direction of the mountain. At first the police gave way but, according to Mineworker 2, after about ten metres they started shooting.
In such accounts, sound spatializes and adds a temporal dimension to the landscape: the field of fire and the miners’ singing are described as a means of mapping the massacre’s location, in counterpoint with the physical and symbolic presence of the mountain that occupies its north-east corner. But at the same time, sound is the sign of presence, of physical action and vulnerability. Noise penetrates the listening body, collapsing our feeling of proximity and distance as we read the text, and rupturing the sense of ground or containment upon which the narrative resides. This is a crucial turn. In Kaganof’s film, the Marikana massacre is transfigured into a ritualised act, a theatre of paramilitary execution that occupies a space congruent with Mitchell’s reading (elsewhere in his volume) of the holy land, a similarly violated place of reverence, transformation, and despair, ‘a paradise from which we have been expelled, a sacred soil that has been defiled, a promise yet to be fulfilled, a blessed site that lies under a curse’ (Mitchell 2002, 261). Such reified landscapes are frequently marked by primal moments of mutilation and abandonment (both ecological and humanitarian), in direct opposition to their spiritual and material wealth. ‘The perverse logic of holy landscape seems to turn it from god’s gift into an obscene idol that demands human sacrifice’, Mitchell (2002, 262) explains, through a grisly harvest: ‘the sacred groves are watered by blood, and the fields are fertilized with human flesh and bones’. At such moments, landscape and power are no longer polarised in binary opposition, but melded into a single event: the sound of singing which gives way to bullets and the cries of policemen, mineworkers, and vain repeated calls to ‘cease fire’ as the shots kick up the dust.
How can, or should, musicology approach such shattered (and shattering) soundscapes, not least given their fractured reassemblage in Kaganof’s film? This problem poses a larger question about the proper role of academic discourse and its relationship with political activism and resistance. Luke Sinwell (2012, 670) writes scathingly of ‘ivory-tower intellectuals who criticise neoliberalism at international and other conferences without undertaking movement-building themselves that engages with the strategies and tactics employed by the masses, provide little hope for constructing a radical socialist agenda at this, or any other, juncture’, a charge which no amount of earnest liberal hand-wringing can hope to resolve. Nor does that allow us to penetrate the complex historical contexts for the Marikana massacre, its immediate political motivations, and its traumatic aftermath, with any sense of coherence. Perhaps the most useful response to Sinwell’s critique can be found in Njabulo S. Ndebele’s essay ‘Redefining Relevance’, an analysis that, crucially, predates the 1994 watershed. For Ndebele (1994, 68-9),
The writer [in South Africa] has tended to plunge into the task of writing without fully grappling with the theoretical demands of that task in all its dimensions. Armed with notions of artistic commitment still constrained by outmoded protest-bound perceptions of the role of art and of what constitutes political relevance in art, [she] has set about reproducing a dead-end.
One could argue that, in the light of events such as Marikana, Ndebele’s call for a more coolly dispassionate dialogic process of engagement risks seeming fatally anachronistic. But the task laid out by Ndebele is not as straightforward or compliant as it seems. ‘The relationship between politics and art is by definition always mediated by reflection’, Ndebele (1994, 69) explains, ‘but this distinction does not necessarily enable us to make a mechanical choice between politics and art: rather, it enables us to participate in the dialectic between the two’. The real challenge in Ndebele’s model is hence to meet the artistic demands provoked by such events with a sufficient sense of urgency, but simultaneously to fold back critical analysis in a continual process of reflection and re-evaluation that asks more intractable questions of genre, textuality, and scholarly practice. The difficulty of that task seems greater than ever before, not least given the political indictment of liberal academe made by Kaganof’s film, but that should not prevent us from adopting its basic principles in lieu of more scattered methodologies.
The challenges for musicology, however, run even deeper. This is in part because of the pervasive resistance, both within the discipline and without, to engaging with messy questions of musical meaning and ontology in genuinely transformative ways. Even a critic as politically savvy as Žižek (2005) falls disarmingly, in his call for a radical decontextualisation of Wagnerian music drama, for a faded notion of musical immanence, albeit within the context of a utopian revolutionary critique of late capitalism. This trend was identified as early as 1993 by writers such as Philip Bohlman, addressing explicitly the political nature of what was perceived as musicology’s historical indifference to issues of representation and social context. Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Bohlman (1993, 424) notes that ‘musicology has not been a field wont to respond to social and critical crisis, much less to any sort of crisis that we might call discursive – that is to say, a crisis that might lie within itself as an intellectual discipline’. More than two decades after the emergence of what was once called the ‘New Musicology’ in response to calls such as Bohlman’s for a thorough re-evaluation of the discipline’s epistemological foundations, it is possible for scholars to ask themselves how much has genuinely changed, at least at the level of infrastructure and representation. Certainly, musicology’s claims to a degree of critical self-immunity have remained by-and-large intact, paradoxically perhaps in part because of recent pressures, within the United Kingdom at least, to demonstrate its ‘relevance’. Yet here lies musicology’s double-bind, as Bohlman notes: ‘it is because musicology has insisted on its apolitical status – call it positivistic, call it value-free, call it aesthetically independent – that the field has come face-to-face with its own political act.’ Writing about music, in other words, swiftly becomes another form of domination, both disciplinary and political, a process of ontological seizure and determinism. ‘This act of essentializing music, the very attempt to depoliticise it,’ Bohlman (1993, 419) argues, ‘has become the most hegemonic form of politicising music’; to which the only adequate response, once again, might appear to be silence.
Critically contemplating the relationship between music and landscape, however, forces us to open such questions again, and to begin to speak and write cautiously once more. Deconstructing landscape’s deceptive ‘second nature’, and attending more acutely to the discursive dangers of passive immersion in notions of aesthetic contemplation, either of landscape or the musical work, compels musicology to readdress its own recurrent critical amnesia and short-sightedness, as painful as this process has become. This is, in part, what Kaganof’s film demands of its viewers. But music, as ever, ultimately plays a less regulated and disciplined role within Kaganof’s film, one that precludes any neat interpretative enclosure or instrumentalisation. Thrown amidst the sharply spliced news footage of the massacre and the angrily juxtaposed longeurs of the conference proceedings, among the most heart-rending moments in the film is the extract from Neo Muyanga’s performance, ‘Songs of Soil and Water: An Exploration of Music of Protest, Love and Transformation’, which was the theme of one of the conference’s lunchtime concerts. For Kaganof, the bitter irony of Muyanga’s hymn, in loving and reverential praise of God, slams into the sheer brutality of the police massacre. It becomes, in Kaganof’s reading, the most searing evidence of our failure to respond, not only to Marikana, but to the violence of landscape more generally: to the fate of the dispossessed and the crimes of occupation, segregation, and inequality perpetuated upon the land. Even at this bleakest moment, however, insisting on music’s ability to speak in other registers is absolutely not to reinscribe outdated assumptions of cultivation and autonomy, even less to re-monumentalise an oppressive nineteenth-century Western European notion of musical transcendence. Rather, it is to try and allow music to regain its own agency, its ability to invert, surprise, gather, cajole, mourn, rage, and console, or to do nothing at all. It is to embrace a more productive dissonance. Like the rich Bakhtinian laughter that erupts from the narrator at the end of Es’kia Mphahlele’s story, ‘Grieg on a Stolen Piano’ (2006 ), it is music’s routine, quotidian character, alongside its transgressiveness, that is its most powerful and unsettling quality. Recognising music’s creative potential, as well as its historical embeddedness, in conjunction with the demand for justice articulated repeatedly in Kaganof’s film, only increases the urgency of our response, however compromised that may seem. Writing, hesitantly, in its aftermath becomes not simply a possibility but an obligation. Two greater imperatives nevertheless remain: to remember; and to listen more closely.
Daniel M. Grimley
Alexander, Peter. 2013. ‘Analysis and Conclusion’. In Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, (eds.) Peter Alexander, Luke Sinwell, Thalepo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, and Bongani Xezwi. London: Bookmarks Publications, 131-156.
Alexander, Peter. 2013. ‘The Massacre: A narrative account based on the workers’ testimonies’. In Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, (eds.) Peter Alexander et al., 23-45.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. 2006. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. London: Penguin.
Bohlman, Philip and Ronald Radano. ‘Introduction’. In Music and the Racial Imagination, (eds.) Philip Bohlmann and Ronald Radano. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1-53.
Bohlman, Philip. 1993. ‘Musicology as a Political Act’. Journal of Musicology XI(4), 411-36.
Böhmke, Heinrich. 2012. ‘Marikana: a lesson in late liberal democracy’. The Africa Report, 22 August 2012. http://www.theafricareport.com/News-Analysis/marikana-a-lesson-in-late-liberal-democracy.html.
Chaudhuri, Amit. 2016. ‘The real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall’, The Guardian, 16 March 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/16/the-real-meaning-of-rhodes-must-fall?CMP=share_btn_tw.
Cross, Jonathan. 2013. ‘Landscapes of Melancholy: A Tree of Strings’, paper delivered at the ‘Hearing Landscape Critically’ conference, Stellenbosch University, 9 – 11 September 2013.
Dave, Nomi. 2014. ‘The Politics of Silence: Music, Violence and Protest in Guinea’. Ethnomusicology 58(1), 1-29.
Eoan History Project. 2013. Eoan: Our Story. Fourthwall Books: Johannesburg and DOMUS: University of Stellenbosch.
Galgut, Damon. 2010. In a Strange Room. London: Atlantic Books.
Gordon, Bonnie. 2015. ‘What Mr Jefferson didn’t hear’. In Rethinking Difference in Music Scholarship, (eds.) Olivia Bloechl, Melanie Lowe and Jeffrey Kallberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 108-132.
Ingold, Tim. 2007. ‘Against Soundscape’. In Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice, (ed.) Angus Carlyle. Paris: Double Entendre, 10-13.
MacGregor, Emily. 2012. ‘Whoever pays the piper calls the tune: pressures on academic freedom and the discipline of music in the UK’. Critical Quarterly 54(4), 54-73.
Mitchell, W.J.T. 2002 . Landscape and Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Moustapha, Elemine Ould Mohamed Baba. 2014. ‘Negotiating Islamic Revival: Public Religiosity in Nouackchott City’. Islamic Africa 5(1), 45-82.
Mphahlele, Es’kia. 2006 . ‘Grieg on a Stolen Piano’. In In Corner B. Johannesburg: Penguin, 103-124.
Muller, Stephanus. 2013. ‘Spectres of Excess’, paper delivered at the ‘Hearing Landscape Critically’ conference, Stellenbosch University, 9 – 11 September 2013.
Ndebele, Njabulo S. 1994. ‘Redefining Relevance’. In South African Literature and Culture: Rediscovery of the Ordinary. Manchester UP, 60-74.
Robbins, Bruce. 1998. ‘Comparative Cosmopolitanisms’. In Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation, (eds.) Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 246-264.
Sanders, Mark. 2002. Complicities: The Intellectual and Apartheid. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.
Sewald, Ronda L. 2012. ‘Forced Listening: The Contested Use of Loudspeakers for Commercial and Political Messages in the Public Soundscape’. In Sound Clash, (eds.) Kara Keeling and Josh Kun. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 317-336.
Sinwell, Luke, Thalepo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, and Bongani Xezwi. 2013. ‘Introduction: Encounters in Marikana’. In Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, (eds.) Peter Alexander et al., 13-22.
Sinwell, Luke. 2012. ‘Sharpening the Weapons of the Weak: a Response to Carin Runciman’. Review of South African Political Economy 39(134), 665-71.
Tuck, Stephen. 2014. The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Whitfield, Stephen J. 1999. In Search of American Jewish Culture. Hanover: Brandeis University Press.
Žižek, Slavoj. 2005. ‘Foreword: Why Wagner is Worth Saving’. In T. W. Adorno, The Case of Wagner, trans. Rodney Livingstone. London: Verso, vii-xxvii.
Žižek, Slavoj. 2008. Violence. Six Sideways Reflections. London: Profile.
1. The Hearing Landscape Critically Network is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (award ref. IN-2013-016). Details of the conference programme and related events are listed at: https://musiclandscapeconference.wordpress.com.
2. For a sobering report that examines the complex patterns of collusion and protest up to and following the massacre, see Böhmke 2012.
3. For a wider theoretical discussion of this folding-together of collusion and responsibility, see Sanders 2002.
4. The best account of the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford is Amit Chaudhuri’s ‘The real meaning of Rhodes Must Fall’ (2016). Oxford University’s record of admission for non-white applicants remains a frequent topic of debate in the British media, and the institution’s attitude to race has recently been the subject of a student-led campaign, ‘I too am Oxford’. See the project website at http://itooamoxford.tumblr.com. The university’s African Studies Centre (http://www.africanstudies.ox.ac.uk) supports a wide range of environmental, political, and sociological research on African topics, and inaugurated an MSc in African Studies in 2006. Oxford also has a long-standing record of civil rights activism; for a reflective history, see Tuck 2014.
5. Kwame Anthony Appiah (2006, 31) has written of this negative circularity of response, noting that, ‘People often recommend relativism because they think it will lead to tolerance. But if we cannot learn from one another what is right to feel and do, then conversation between us will be pointless. Relativism of that sort isn’t a way to encourage conversation; it’s just a reason to fall silent’.
6. I am indebted to Stephanus Muller for this point, which is drawn out of his paper, ‘Spectres of Excess’, at the Stellenbosch HLC meeting.
7. This omission was compounded by the network’s decision not to screen the film at its following meeting, at Harvard University, in January 2015. A statement, followed by a response from Kaganof, was published on the network’s website at https://hearinglandscapecritically.net/page/2/.
8. See the Eoan History Project’s volume, Eoan: Our Story (2013). The group website is at http://www.eoangroup.co.za.
9. For an account of Secunda’s career, and the story of the song’s genesis and subsequent commercial success following its 1938 recording by the Andrews Sisters, see Whitfield, 1999.
10. The materiality and symbolism of loud speakers has increasingly been the subject of scholarly attention. See, for example, Sewald 2012, and Moustapha 2014.
11. It is important, in this context, to turn once again to Peter Alexander’s (2013, 40) account drawn from the miners’ testimony: ‘Of the 34 workers who were slaughtered on 16 August, 12 died in the opening encounter. About eight died in various locations around the battlefield. The remainder were killed in one small location. This is the place known by the Inquiry as Kleinkopje. But South Africa is littered with small koppies and it seems more appropriate to call it Killing Koppie. Here, some 300 metres to the west of the mountain, on a low rocky outcrop covered with shrubs and trees, the police killed 13 or 14 workers. On a grassy plane with few large bushes this was an obvious place to hide from bullets and Hippos, but it was relatively easy for the police to encircle and then move in for the kill.’
12. I am wary of the potentially naturalising quality of the term ‘soundscape’, and the extent to which it brings a very different intellectual heritage into the discussion; for an influential critique, see Ingold 2007, 10-13.
13. Ndebele’s essay was written in the aftermath of the decision to fire 23,000 miners at Impala Platinum mine, Bophuthatswana, in 1986.
14. Ndebele’s position shifted as political events developed. In a later essay, titled ‘Guilt and Atonement’ from 1991, the text’s recurrent refrain is ‘Terrible choices!’
15. See also the influential introduction in Bohlman’s co-edited volume with Robert Radano, Music and the Racial Imagination (2000).
16. For a trenchant discussion, see MacGregor 2012.
17. Stephen Daniels, ‘Marxism, culture, and the duplicity of landscape’, in Richard Peet and Nigel Thrift (eds), New Models in Geography, vol. II (London: Routledge, 1998), 196-220.
18. For a particularly powerful attempt to address these concerns, see Gordon 2015.
June 9, 2016
March 23, 2016
Threnody for the victims of Marikana screening @the UNFORESEEN EXPERIMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL, Beograd, Serbia, 24 March 2016
more information is here: http://www.czkd.org/en/dani-eksperimentalnog-filma-nepredvideni/
March 22, 2016
more info here: http://www.czkd.org/en/dani-eksperimentalnog-filma-nepredvideni/
March 14, 2016
March 8, 2016
This paper discusses four representations of the massacre of striking mineworkers that took place on 16 August 2012 at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa: Aryan Kaganof’s unconventional documentary Night is Coming: A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana (2014); Rehad Desai’s Emmy-award-winning documentary Miners Shot Down (2014); a performance of the massacre by the women of Marikana as recorded in Aliki Saragas’s documentary Mama Marikana (2015); and Ayanda Mabulu’s painting “Yakhal’inkomo” (2013). Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s comments on strikes, police violence and democracy in “Critique of Violence”, the essay investigates what cultural texts about the Marikana massacre can tell us about post-“rainbow nation” South Africa after two decades of democracy. Bearing in mind the intertextual allusions that operate across semiotic mediums in texts such as Night is Coming and “Yakhal’inkomo”, and historical links between features of landscape and events, it asks what is suggested and/or occluded in different representations of Marikana. The essay concludes by focusing on the link between structural violence and the massacre, and on the importance of excavating a history of rural resistance in understanding key aspects of the Marikana strikes.
Keywords: Marikana massacre, post-apartheid, Miners Shot Down, Night is Coming, Mama Marikana, “Yakhal’Inkomo”.
More than two decades after the formal end of apartheid, South Africa does not seem to have come of age as the “rainbow-nation” that seemed so attainable in the Mandela years. Rather, as student movements such as “Rhodes Must Fall” have pointed out, we have a society suffering from continuing structural racism, economic exploitation, growing inequality, limited access to quality education, large-scale black landlessness, poverty and unemployment, and state violence against those who express their dissent through protest action. The major event in which all of these problems congealed, and that exploded the myth of post-apartheid harmony, was the killing by police of striking mineworkers at the Marikana platinum mine on 16 August 2012. In this essay I examine four representations of the Marikana massacre: Aryan Kaganof’s Night is Coming: A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana (2014), an unconventional cinematic response to the massacre that raises questions of seeing and not seeing in academic discourse; Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down (2014), a highly acclaimed documentary that meticulously reconstructs events immediately leading up to the massacre; a performance of the massacre by the women of the mine as recorded in Aliki Saragas’s Mama Marikana (2015); and Ayanda Mabulu’s “Yakhal’inkomo”, a controversial painting about the massacre. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s comments on strikes, police violence and democracy in “Critique of Violence”, the essay investigates what cultural texts about the Marikana massacre can tell us about South Africa after two decades of democracy. Bearing in mind the intertextual allusions that operate across semiotic mediums in texts such as Night is Coming and “Yakhal’inkomo”, and historical links between places features of landscape and events, it asks what is suggested and/or occluded in different representations of Marikana. The essay concludes by focusing on the link between structural violence and the massacre, and on the importance of excavating a history of rural resistance in understanding key aspects of the Marikana strikes.
In his essay “Critique of Violence” (“Zur Kritik der Gewalt”, 1921), Walter Benjamin claims that a strike by organized labour is threatening to the law precisely because strikes can be legitimate within an apparently stable legal system but they are simultaneously able to change the law, to become a law-making force. As Jacques Derrida has pointed out, although it is often translated as “violence”, the German word “Gewalt” used by Benjamin in his essay also means “legitimate power, authority, public force” (234). One of the most remarkable aspects of Benjamin’s essay is that he acknowledges the law-making and law-preserving “Gewalt” that underlies the apparently “normal” status quo of modern democracy. For the purposes of my essay, it is also significant that he writes about strikes by organized labour as a form of “Gewalt”, noting that although the state may be obliged to concede its legitimacy, a strike has the power to remake the law, and in a time of crisis the state “meets the strikers, as perpetrators of [potential law-making] violence, with violence”. Benjamin was writing, as he himself acknowledges, about the European state in the early twentieth century. As I argue in this essay, his thoughts on strikes, the law and police violence in democracies are relevant to what happened at Marikana on 16 August 2012, as explored through cultural texts about this event. Indeed, Cyril Ramaphosa’s doublespeak about Marikana, as recorded in Miners Shot Down, appears to come straight from Benjamin’s essay. When asked about the massacre, Ramaphosa states, with a smile that is meant to be reassuring: “We are not the first country to have a wave of strikes… and some of these strikes have even toppled governments.”
An overview of world history reveals that strikes by mineworkers have rarely been well received by the modern democratic nation state. Contemporary South Africa has the most progressive constitution in the world, and that constitution recognises the right of workers to strike. There is no such thing as an “illegal strike”, even though striking workers may be “unprotected” under labour law if strike action does not comply with the Labour Relations Act of 1995. The strikes at Marikana in 2012 were legal wildcat strikes that were “unprotected” in terms of labour law. They took place without the blessing of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the recognised union that was formed in 1982 and built largely through the efforts of Ramaphosa, who became its first General Secretary. The fact that mine workers at Marikana had a legal right to strike, however, did not stop police from hemming them in with razor wire and gunning them down.
At the time of the massacre in which 34 miners were killed and at least 78 wounded, Ramaphosa, currently a strong candidate to succeed Jacob Zuma as state president, had moved from trade union activism to the corporate world, and was not only a high-ranking member of the ANC, but also a board member of Lonmin, the British company that operated mines at Marikana. As the strike escalated, he was called on by Lonmin to deal with the situation. Instead of encouraging negotiations, he turned to the Police Minister and the Minister of Mineral Resources, and his attitude is evident in an email to the acting head of Lonmin, which refers to the striking miners as “dastardedly criminal”. Despite the fact that the police were clearly acting on orders from above, and that the government and the police were under pressure from a multi-national corporation to crush the strike, the official investigation of the massacre, the Farlam Commission, did not hold Lonmin, its officials, or any government ministers directly accountable for events at Marikana. In a truly Kafkaesque turn of events, the National Prosecuting Authority used an apartheid-era law of “common purpose”, which had been used against black anti-apartheid activists, to charge two hundred and seventy of the surviving miners with the murder of their compatriots who had been killed by police. Twenty-one miners still face these murder charges.
In looking at violence “awry” through discussion of cultural texts about Marikana rather than confronting the massacre directly, I take a leaf out of Slavoj Zizek’s 2008 book, Violence. As Zizek claims, “there is something inherently mystifying in direct confrontation with [violence]”. At the same time I am aware that cultural texts risk reification, taking the place of the violence they represent, as acknowledged in Kaganof’s Night is Coming through quotations from Jesus Sepulveda’s The Garden of Peculiarities. I would also like to make it clear that by focusing on representations of the events of 16 August 2012, I do not intend to overlook the fact that ten people were killed in the lead-up to the massacre, or the numerous deaths of black workers that are part of the “normal” operations of the South African mining industry. Rather, I seek to explore, via cultural texts, the deep structural violence that underlay this outburst of spectacular violence.
The cultural texts examined here offer perspectives that are at odds with those of the state, and/ with certain strands of white academic discourse, and may therefore be said to be disruptive of powerful or dominant ways of seeing. In fact, three out of four of the texts under discussion have been suppressed in ways that bring to mind censorship. Night is Coming was considered so offensive to the people who commissioned the film that they tried to suppress it. The documentary was meant to record a conference on landscape, “Hearing Landscape Critically: Music, Place and the Spaces of Sound”, held at Stellenbosch University in 2013, the centenary of the Natives Land Act. Instead of delivering a product that massaged academic egos, however, Kaganof used his creative license to comment through the film on the extreme disconnect between white middle-class academic jargon and the conditions in which most South Africans are forced to live and die. Montaging images of the Marikana massacre (at times framed like landscape paintings), with irrelevant, fatuous and flatulent academic discourse, Kaganof confronts us with images of white blindness. Other clips that form part of the montage include footage of a filthy overflowing public toilet in a township outside Stellenbosch, and of people mining the nearby rubbish dump for scraps to sell. Kaganof’s point is clear: at a conference on land and landscape shortly after the Marikana massacre, not one of these learned academics is talking about Marikana, black landlessness, or the racialised dispossession and poverty that exist all around them. Perhaps predictably, the film was not well received by the Hearing Landscape Critically academic panel, which decided that it should not be shown at Harvard University in 2014 as originally planned.
South Africa’s national broadcaster, the SABC, has so far refused to screen Desai’s Miners Shot Down on national television, though the film was screened in January 2016 on eTV, an independent, free-to-air television channel. After the film won an International Emmy Award in New York for best documentary in 2015, the ANC was forced into the position of having to make an official statement about the merits of the film. On behalf of the party, Zizi Kodwa wrote: “The ANC extends its compliments to all cast members of the Documentary for their hard work and determination which resulted to this achievement.” The statement proved particularly unpopular on Twitter, with black intellectuals asking whether the party was referring to the “deceased miners” as “cast members”. User @TOMolefe said: “The ‘cast’ is either dead or waiting on the State you control to compensate them for their suffering.” Another user, @thando_mgqo, tweeted: “And now the ANC congratulates ‘all cast members of the documentary’, and that’s supposed to be who? the deceased?” @ShottaZee added sardonically: “Unless by ‘cast members’ the ANC is referring to the police who were shooting down miners. It makes sense to congratulate them.” The ANC issued a formal apology for the error, changing “cast members” to “crew members”, but its official statement is deeply contradictory as it praises a film that the party is not allowing to be shown on the national television station.
Similarly, in 2013 Ayanda Mabulu’s “Yakhal’Inkomo”, which depicts the state as complicit in the Marikana massacre, was temporarily “banned” from the Johannesburg Art Fair. Speaking on eNCA’s news channel after his painting had been singled out for removal from the fair, Mabulu claimed that powerful people in government wanted to stop the artwork from being exhibited, suggesting that the organisers had capitulated to this pressure. “Yakhal’Inkomo” was only reinstated after photographer David Goldblatt threatened to boycott the Art Fair if the painting was not shown.
It has been suggested that some texts on Marikana fit within the “true crime” genre, but this does not take proper account of the type of “Gewalt” that is being explored in texts about Marikana. In “Critique of Violence” Walter Benjamin points to the difference between the violence used by a criminal when breaking the law, and the force used by workers in solidarity during a strike. As he points out, “the figure of the ‘great’ criminal, however repellent his ends may have been”, often arouses “the secret admiration of the public” or the “sympathy of the mass against law.” By contrast, Benjamin argues, “organized labor is, apart from the state, probably today the only legal subject entitled to exercise violence” (Benjamin, 281-2).
Following Benjamin’s analysis, we can conclude that the appeal of “true crime” narratives, from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood to the hit podcast “Serial”, lies in the public’s fascination with violence perpetrated by certain individuals or criminal groups that disrupts the state’s monopoly on violence. Because they depict this transgression, there is a certain “guilty pleasure” in reading or hearing such narratives. Watching a film such as Miners Shot Down, however, offers no such “guilty pleasure” whatsoever. Instead, the documentary is deeply harrowing to watch, uncovering as it does the ultimate triumph of the state’s monopoly on violence. Kaganof’s Night is Coming goes so far as to grimly satirize the idea of regarding the type of violence that it portrays as entertainment. Almost halfway through the film a woman’s voice announces: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please take a moment to locate your cellphone and ensure that it is switched off. Thank you and enjoy the show”. The film then cuts to the hill at Marikana, with the miners assembled prior to the massacre. Ayanda Mabulu’s painting “Yakhal’inkomo” also uses satire to critique a prurient, commodifying gaze: at the lower right of the composition a white man is taking action shots of the scene like a predatory war photographer. Clearly, these cultural texts do not deal with the subject matter of a criminal who may be possessed of a pathological violence, and whose alleged actions fly in the face of the law and transgress the state’s monopoly on violence. Instead, they explore to varying degrees the violence of the state in collaboration with a multi-national corporation, and the abject failure of both entities to deal humanely with a workers strike, the rights of which are enshrined in the South African constitution.
White Blindness Filmed in a Police State: Night is Coming
Kaganof’s Night is Coming: A Thenody for the Victims of Marikana begins with a self-referential white typescript description on a black screen: “PROLOGOMENA To Any Future Landscape Hearing That Will Be Able To Present Itself as a CRITICAL SCIENCE”. The screen fades to utter black and we hear an audio recording of the Marikana massacre: a volley of exploding gunshots interspersed with police shouts of “cease fire”, and “I’ll shoot you.” The opening credits of the film then roll and its biting satirical edge becomes evident: “In association with/ BADLY TRAINED COPS ON STEROIDS” is followed by the title of the film. The words “Filmed in a”, which overlay a visual image of the word “POLICE” on the side of a police van, become “Filmed in a POLICE STATE” after someone graffitis the word “STATE” onto the police van, under “POLICE”, to the sound of a hip-hop track. The film then cuts to an interview with black consciousness artist Lefifi Tladi, elaborating on the aims of black consciousness and the predicament of post-apartheid South Africa: “[black consciousness] didn’t filter down, because we got independence… which simply means that the imperialists give you the machinery that they were oppressing you with so you oppress yourself.” After this the viewer is confronted with slow motion footage of the Marikana massacre (which Kaganof claims was downloaded from Youtube and used without permission), overlaid with the score of Handel’s “Sarabande”. The footage is horrific to watch, even through this mediation, or perhaps it is even more horrific because of the slow motion and accompanying sound track. It ends with police armed with R5 assault rifles standing over the bodies of slain miners, collecting their “weapons” – a few wooden sticks and knobkerries. Throughout the film Kaganof seems to be exploring the reification of violence and questions about post-apartheid democracy that he references in a poetry performance entitled “When Kaganof Met Death” at the 2015 Poetry Africa festival:
There is no Marikana, only media images…. Over the shoulder of the police I focus my lens, and as he pulls his trigger I get my shot. Snap. Snuff shots. That’s what the news has become, live death TV. A visual shittery shooting the citizenry through the eyes of the state. You may not simply sit and consume anymore. Never mind the scattered bodies, how do we survive Marikana? How do the survivors survive? What democracy? Whose? Who does this nervous condition belong to? Are you still scared of the police? (Kaganof 2015)
After the opening credits, Night is Coming cuts to what would in a conventional documentary be a “talking head”, that of Daniel Grimley, Director of Research in the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford, and Principal Investigator of the Hearing Landscape Critically Research Network. Professor Grimley’s “talking head”, however, is filmed from a low angel, in extreme close up such that the top of his head and his chin are cropped off. This is clearly a film in which the conventions of documentary film-making are being parodied and interrogated.
The rest of the film comprises footage (sometimes literally “footage”, i.e. shots of the feet of academic presenters) of the conference, interspersed with cinematic documentary of nearby squatter camps and a rubbish dump, and visual and aural references to the Marikana massacre. In a satire of what is left out of the conference, Kaganof presents us with the Marikana massacre as soundtrack. The film shows at repeated intervals what appears to be a CD cover for an album entitled “South African Music/ Marikana Symphony…. Four South African Folk-Tunes”, attributed to the “National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC.” The audio of the massacre is repeated again and again, sometimes as if the gunshot sounds come from a black man hammering as he labours to fix a road, sometimes as if they are emitted by the applause of academics in appreciation of a live piece of music. In its entirety the film could be regarded as a highly dissonant audio-visual fugue, comprising recurring motifs and leitmotifs that are successively developed and interwoven.
Intertextual allusions abound: the title alludes to the 1960 musical composition, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, by Krzysztof Penderecki; Night is Coming confronts us with typescript quotes from Jose Saramago’s 1998 novel Blindness; and entire paragraphs from Jesus Sepulveda’s anti-capitalist, anarchist, ecological speculations on ideology and images are read in seTswana by Lefifi Tladi, with English subtitles and no attribution, and with Sepulveda’s speculations at times altered or rescripted by Kaganof to suit the contemporary South African context. One of the main recurring motifs is the figure of a blind white woman, played by Carina Venter, a blind postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University who attended the Hearing Landscape Critically conference. Close-up shots of her unseeing eyes and of her sitting in a chair are accompanied by Billie Whitelaw’s voice reading lines from Samuel Beckett’s “Rockaby”. Most significantly, Night is Coming constantly references seeing and not seeing. Footage from the conference showing Willem Boshoff, a self-professed white male Afrikaner “druid”, claiming that “you have to be wide awake to check things out… a druid looks in the dust… in places where nobody else looks”, is montaged with shots of the rubbish dump outside Stellenbosch where people are literally looking in the “dust”, or “skarrelling” (scavenging) for discarded waste to sell or use. At a conference on landscape that has glaringly omitted to talk about black landlessness or Marikana, one of the conference presenters, Jessica Dubow, is recorded as quoting Kafka: “I tell stories as a way of closing my eyes”.
In this context the allusion to Saramago’s Blindness, appearing on the screen in the form of a typescript quote from the novel – “images see with the eyes of those who see them” – becomes resonant. The “white blindness” that dissolves characters’ vision into a milky luminous whiteness in Saramago’s novel becomes in Kaganof’s film the blindness of white people. Though the blind woman played by Carina Venter in Night is Coming does not correct the elision of Marikana at the Hearing Landscape Critically conference, her statements about her blindness come across as some kind of cryptically encoded moral or philosophical message. Somehow wonder whether this character, like the one woman who could see among the blind in Saramago’s novel, is the one woman who can see among the blind academicians.
In an informal interview, Kaganof has explained that one of the major influences on Night is Coming was reading Massimiliano Tomba’s article “Another Kind of Gewalt: Beyond law/ Re-reading Walter Benjamin”. Tomba’s analysis hinges on the re-interpretation of a key sentence in Benjamin’s “Critique”:
And though the police, may, in particulars, appear the same everywhere, it cannot finally be denied that in absolute monarchy, where they represent the power of a ruler in which the legislative and executive supremacy are united, their spirit is less devastating than in democracies, where their existence, elevated by no such relation, bears witness to the greatest conceivable degeneration of violence. (Benjamin, 287)
As Tomba’s essay reveals, there are at least two ways of reading this apparently opaque sentence (the opacity of which inheres in the German original). Firstly, Benjamin may be suggesting that “the spirit of the police” is more “devastating” in democracies than under absolute monarchy because one does not expect such violence in a democracy. This seems to be Derrida’s reading in his essay “Force of Law”, which looks forward to a democracy “to come” (Derrida 281) that will be “just” and not “degenerative”. Yet a more disturbing interpretation of Benjamin’s sentence is also possible. It can be read as stating that the violence of police serving an absolute monarch is less “degenerative” because it must always reflect the combined legislative and executive powers of the monarchy, while in a democracy, the police are acting in a context where the “the sole political subject is the people” and “individuals become… politically insignificant” (Tomba 130). The police are answerable to “the people” and thus to no one in particular. Moreover, at any point the police can appropriate law-making and law-upholding forms of Gewalt, collapsing the distinction between them:
The nature of the modern state emerges clearly in the praxis of the police. Here, the distinction between a power/violence that imposes law [rechtsetzende Gewalt] and one that defends it [rechtserhaltende Gewalt] is suppressed: the police imposes law in the act itself in which it preserves it, intervening in precisely those cases ‘where no clear legal situation exists’….
One must here respond that police violence does not corrupt the democratic principle, as Derrida thinks, but, rather, expresses its most intimate essence. (Tomba 130-1)
Tomba’s interpretation of Benjamin, suggesting that modern democracy is always potentially a police state, yields some radical insights and questions for a relatively new democratic postcolony. These become all the more urgent when one considers that ranks and titles in the South African police force were remilitarized during Zuma’s presidency, shortly before the Marikana massacre, after the police were demilitarized following the formal end of apartheid. When the police become militarized one essentially has a force that is officially at war with citizens of the state, on behalf of “the people”. The Marikana massacre also reveals continuities between police operations under apartheid and in post-apartheid democracy: the special police unit (the Tactical Response Team armed with R5 rifles) that perpetrated the massacre has murky origins in apartheid-era cross-border military campaigns against “terrorists” in Angola and Namibia.
What is overlooked in an analysis of the police state here, however, is the power of multi-national corporations. For events such as the Marikana massacre reveal that the state has not, as Tomba claims, “[totally razed] every extra-statist power” (130). As foreseen by Lenin as early as 1916-7 in “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism”, the tentacles of multi-national corporation traverse national boundaries, often intertwining with those of the state, which has a vested interest in supporting corporate monopolies.
The Men and Women of Marikana: Miners Shot Down and Mama Marikana
The impact of unholy alliances between multi-national corporations and the state in the twenty first century is explored in Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down. Indeed, what gives this film its international appeal is the way the Marikana massacre is portrayed as the result of an all-too-familiar collusion between state and corporate power. As opposed to Night is Coming, which has a non-linear, fugue-like structure, and which disrupts verisimilitude (most notably in a scene where Kaganof’s voice can be heard directing a close up shot of Carina Venter’s face and eyes), Miners Shot Down represents Marikana as a realist narrative, in the tradition of more conventional documentaries. Beginning with footage of the massacre, Desai’s film tells the story of events immediately leading up to the massacre through flashback, voice-over narration and interviews, finally returning to an account of what happened on 16 August 2012. As a narrative, the striking miners who gather on the “mountain” emerge as protagonists, and if there is a main antagonist in the film, it is Cyril Ramaphosa, who is represented as embodying collusion between the state and corporate power. Aliki Saragas’s documentary Mama Marikana, which began as an MA project at the University of Cape Town, aims to tell a story elided from Desai’s narrative, that of the women of Marikana. In her narrative, the widows and women mine workers living at Marikana are clearly the protagonists, with the most haunting moments of the film occurring when these women create a theatrical production of the massacre, with themselves “starring” both as policemen and their victims.
One of the main criticisms of Desai’s documentary has come from Blade Nzimande, the current general secretary of the South African Communist Party, which forms part of the ANC government through the Tripartite Alliance. In a 2015 article for the Rand Daily Mail, Nzimande called Desai a “biased pseudo-left” filmmaker, and accused him of reproducing the apartheid-era narrative of “‘black-on-black’ violence propaganda”:
Back in August 2012, and inconsistently since, one – basically capitalist, right-wing – story-line has attempted to simply reduce the tragedy to a case of intra-union rivalry – AMCU versus the National Union of Mineworkers…. It is a story of “mindless” blacks bashing each other. We reject it outright.
Although the Marikana story has been described elsewhere as a clash between rival mineworkers’ unions (Du Preez, 419), Desai’s documentary in fact corrects this view. The striking miners were not aligned as a group to any particular union, though they clearly felt, as Desai narrates in the film, that the official mineworkers’ union, NUM, was “in the pockets of the mines”. NUM had indeed brokered an “arrangement” with mine-owners in the late 1980s, whereby the mines contributed substantially to the salaries of NUM officials. As revealed in Desai’s documentary, the first bloodshed that occurred in the lead up to the massacre was perpetrated by NUM officials who opened fire on the crowd when miners marched to its offices to make their demands. Two miners were seriously injured and are believed to have then died. In the next few days, two Lonmin security guards, two policemen and four miners were killed. Desai’s documentary reveals that by the time of the massacre the striking workers had such contempt for NUM that one of them urinated openly in front of a union leader who came to address them. Joseph Mantunjwa, the head of the rival union AMCU, appears in Miners Shot Down as deeply sympathetic to the plight of the striking miners, but he is not represented as a strike leader.
The great value of Desai’s documentary is the meticulous case it makes against state and police versions of the massacre. The film shows clearly how police ordered mortuary vans to the site prior to the massacre and hemmed in the miners with razor wire before boxing in with armoured cars those leaving “the mountain” and opening fire on them. Miners who had their hands up in surrender were shot, some of them in the back, and the police refused to allow ambulances access to the wounded for over an hour. After watching this film, the police version of self-defence becomes totally unbelievable. Miners Shot Down also shows the extent of collusion between Lonmin and the police, and the ways in which Lonmin officials hid behind police and private security, avoiding negotiations with the strikers and pressuring ministers to instruct the police to break the strike. The filmmakers claim that, partly as a result of their efforts, state versions of the massacre have been rejected by the largest trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), which is now the first major union to break out of the Tripartite Alliance. As I point out in the final section of this essay, another extremely valuable aspect of Miners Shot Down is its recording of key statements by miners and incidents that provide insights into the link between the strikes at Marikana and a long history of rural resistance.
Desai’s close-up focus on the massacre and events immediately leading up to it has some self-imposed limitations. One of these is that the colonial and postcolonial histories of Lonmin are left out of the picture, and we do not see the longer history of violence that underlay Marikana. Lonmin began as a British colonial company, the London and Rhodesia Mining and Land Company (Lonrho), which exploited the land, labour and mineral wealth of southern Africa. Its postcolonial history, however, is even more significant. After the Second World War, Lonrho became a major multi-national corporation under the leadership of “Tiny” Rowland, who was born as a German citizen Rowland Walter Fuhrhop in an internment camp in India, and was later a member of the Hitler Youth. Described by the British Prime Minister Edward Heath as the “unacceptable face of capitalism”, Rowland was a ruthless and unscrupulous businessman who was notorious for the ways he co-opted emerging African nationalist leaders before and after independence. When Rowland died in 1998, tributes to him poured in from African leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Kenneth Kaunda (Shaoul 1998). What this reveals is that capitalism could survive in Africa after colonialism, and that Lonrho and its succesor Lonmin have a long history of co-opting and compensating powerful African leaders for their support. In Miners Shot Down, Ramaphosa is singled out as complicit in the Marikana massacre, but he is certainly not the first black African leader to be co-opted by a multi-national corporation.
As Aliki Saragas has pointed out, what is also occluded in Desai’s narrative is the story of the women of Marikana. Thus far the widows living at Marikana have not received any compensation for the loss of their partners, and some of them have had to replace their partners as breadwinners in the mines. Mama Marikana examines their lives and the roles these women played during the Marikana strikes. As stated above, one of the most arresting aspects of the film is footage of the women of Marikana becoming cast members in a play they choreographed about the massacre. Unlike Joshua Oppenheimer’s “An Act of Killing” this reconstruction of events through performance focuses on the victims of a massacre, and was not directly solicited by Saragas’s film crew. According to Saragas, the women decided they wanted to create a performance about the massacre, like the hit theatrical production Sarafina!, which tells the story of the Soweto uprisings of 1976.
Mama Marikana opens with a shot of the outside of a corrugated metal shack at Marikana. Inside the shack, a group of women are singing and performing the narrative of the massacre. This is montaged with footage of miners assembled on the “mountain”, with voice-over narration by a woman in isiXhosa. At the end of the film, again we see the outside of this shack followed by footage of what is going on inside. Women who represent the striking miners are holding sticks and singing, and the domestic dramas that occurred around the strike are played out: a woman is asked to look after someone else’s home and child, as the men must join the strike on “the mountain”. A woman acting as a policeman then warns the women performing the roles of the striking miners, “Men, this place you are occupying is not right!”, and one of the women playing a strike leader exclaims “Men, they are locking us in, let’s leave them here”. Footage of the women’s performance in the shack is then intercut with shots of the actual massacre, and with footage of the women performing their play on an open-air stage in front of the mining community. What becomes clear is that the women know exactly how the massacre unfolded, and that the mediation deployed by Saragas – filming women acting out the massacre of their men – enables a response that is different from watching direct footage of the massacre. Watching the performance on the outdoor stage in particular is incredibly affecting as Saragas uses shot-reverse-shot editing to show how the audience is reacting. Some of the men are in tears, others are holding hands. The “mountain” where the miners once gathered to strike has now become a part of an outdoor amphitheatre.
South African Guernica: “Yakhal’inkomo”
Staging horror is also a feature of Ayanda Mabulu’s painting about Marikana, “Yakhal inkomo: Black Man’s Cry”. In a bull-fighting ring, a black male figure with the horns of a bull, naked save for a white loincloth resembling that of a slave, is being lured to his demise by the flag of South African democracy wielded by a white bullfighter. The state is represented as complicit in the massacre through the portrayal of President Zuma, who is laughing while he steps on the head of a dying miner and holds the leash of a hyena-like dog that seems intent on attacking the horned figure. Clearly, the rabid dog is meant to represent the police and the figure with horns the massacred miners. Like Saragas’s film, Mabulu’s artwork depicts reactions to the scene of carnage, though to a completely different effect. On the top right hand side of the painting, Cyril Ramaphosa and one of the white directors of Lonmin are sitting together as spectators of the bullfighting ring, laughing at the massacre, and at the top left of the painting Prince Charles and the Queen are also enjoying the show. Thus Mabulu portrays the state, the police, Lonmin and the history of British corporate interests as complicit and colluding in the Marikana massacre.
Figure 1. Ayanda Mabulu, “Yakhal’inkomo: Black Man’s Cry” (2013)
The title of Mabulu’s painting should alert the viewer to a complex intertextual conversation that is being mobilized across the boundaries of different mediums. “Yakhal’inkomo” is the title of a jazz melody composed in 1968 by South African musician Winston “Mankuku” Ngozi, and also the title of a 1972 collection of poems by Mongane Wally Serote. In Rewriting Modernity, David Attwell points to a “multidisciplinary modernism of a fierce and fiercely local kind” that informs the title of Serote’s book of poems. Explaining his title, Serote claims:
Dumile, the sculptor, told me that once in the country he saw a cow being killed. In the kraal the cattle were looking on. They were crying for their own like, dying at the hands of human beings. Yakhal’inkomo. Dumile held the left side of his chest and said that is where the cry of the cattle hit him…. Yakhal’inkomo. The cattle raged and fought, they became a terror to themselves; the twisted poles of the kraal rattled and shook. The cattle saw blood flow into the ground.
I once saw Mankunku Ngozi blowing his saxophone. Yakhal’inkomo. His face was inflated like a balloon, it was wet with sweat, his eyes huge and red. He grew tall, shrank, coiled into himself, uncoiled and the cry came out of his horn. This is the meaning of Yakhal’inkomo. (Serote, iii)
Through its title, Mabulu’s painting therefore alludes to a web of intertextuality whereby music and perspectives from visual arts bleed into a book of poems, and all of this then feeds back into the visual arts. For Ngozi as witnessed by Serote, jazz is a cry of black pain, which possibly explains the second part of the title of Mabulu’s artwork: “Black Man’s Cry.” Yet Mabulu’s painting is as much in conversation with Feni’s work as it is with that of Serote and Ngozi. Indeed, the figure with the horns of a bull, the bullfighter and the bull-fighting ring should warn us that we are in terrain that has a long history in the visual arts. Feni’s most famous work is entitled “African Guernica”, and, through this title as well as the formal composition and shapes of figures in this charcoal drawing, engages with Picasso’s confrontation with horror in his famous painting “Guernica”, which depicts the artist’s vision of the Spanish town of Guernica when it was bombed by the Germans in 1937. Both artworks depict cattle, leading us back again to the words “Yakhal’inkomo”, literally meaning the cry of the cattle while they are being slaughtered. Unlike Picasso’s “Guernica”, however, which depicts the horrors of war through focusing on an incident that took place at a specific place and time, Feni’s view of horror is unmoored, suggesting the ongoing, nightmarish violence imposed on Africa by colonialism and apartheid. Through this network of intertextuality, Mabulu’s painting suggests that the Marikana massacre was South Africa’s “Guernica”, but also that the Marikana massacre is deeply connected to a legacy of structural violence in this country.
In the face of “white blindness” and state attempts to expunge the Marikana massacre from public view and public memory, documentary makers and artists have produced works that have kept the events of 16 August 2012 in focus, showing how these point to the reality of police violence in a postcolonial democracy, collusions between state and corporate power, and post-apartheid continuities with the violence of colonialism and apartheid. In their respective films both Kaganof and Desai compare the Marikana massacre to police killings at Sharpeville in 1960 and/or in Soweto in 1976. I would like to end this essay, however, by asking what is occluded in such perspectives. The languages and words recorded in Miners Shot Down and Mama Marikana offer some clues. Although Mama Marikana was filmed at Marikana where the vernacular is seTswana, in order to translate the speech of the women in the film Aliki Saragas had to work closely with a translator from the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, who described the language she was translating as “deep” isiXhosa, the language spoken in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, an area almost one thousand kilometres away from Marikana. An understanding of Marikana is not possible without considering the structural violence of the migrant labour system that still exists, and the history of rural resistance that informed the strikes.
In the Marikana mining area Lonmin employs 28 000 workers, and of these, 6000 are housed by the mines, but 23 000 are some degree of migrant labourers, living at Marikana in shanty towns. Indeed, if one compares photographs taken by Ernest Cole of the mining compounds in the 1960s with those by Greg Marinovitch of the squalid shacks in which the majority of minerworkers currently live, the only thing that seems to have changed is that miners are no longer prohibited from living with their partners and families. Their living conditions are arguably no better than they were under apartheid. Moreover, being a largely migrant population, most of the miners are supporting not only themselves at Marikana, but also their families “back home” in the rural areas.
The majority of the striking miners, including strike leader Mgcineni “Mambush” Noki, otherwise famously known as “the man in the green blanket”, were rock drillers from the former Transkei, a native “reserve”, and later Bantustan, now incorporated into the Eastern Cape, with a smaller number of the strikers hailing from the neighbouring kingdom of Lesotho. In 1913 the Natives Land Act, which endowed South Africa’s white minority with ninety three percent of the country’s land, provided legislation that gradually ossified the “reserves” into a vast migrant labour camp, the legacy of which is still felt today. Black South Africans were only allowed to own land in 7% and then 13% of the country, and even in these areas land could not be privately owned but was held in communal tenure. The density of population in the Transkei in particular was such that life could not be sustained without resort to migrant labour, and the people of this area continue to be used as a reserve of cheap labour for the mines. The Eastern Cape had a strong black intellectual tradition even under colonialism, but the apartheid authorities crushed this by instituting Bantu Education which prepared black people throughout the country for menial labour.
Miners Shot Down begins with aerial footage of the site of the Marikana massacre, focusing on the small hill where the striking miners chose to gather, and which they referred to as “the mountain”. What is evident in this footage, as well as in all news media footage, is that this hill at Marikana is not “a mountain”. Yet again and again in this film, as well as in Mama Marikana, the men and women of the area refer to this small hill in as “intaba”, the isiXhosa word for “the mountain”. They chose it as a public space in which to assemble, and in their first confrontation with police as represented in Miners Shot Down, they ask the police to allow them to pass to “intaba”. Although this hill was surely a strategic point simply because it was a public space located on communal land and not mine property, the word “intaba” recalls a long history of migrant labour and rural resistance in South Africa.
The Pondoland uprising, commemorated in Rural Resistance in South Africa: The Mpondo Revolts after Fifty Years (2011), took place in the Transkei against the apartheid-era Bantu Authorities Act, which was passed in 1951 to increase the power of chiefs and the system of indirect rule that was operating in the black “reserves”. People began meeting in secret on mountain ridges and formed a movement named “Intaba”, meaning “mountain”. On the 6 June 1960 police attacked a meeting at Ngquza Hill with teargas before opening fire on the crowd, killing eleven people and injuring at least fifty eight. Thirty leaders of the revolt were sentenced to death. The Pondoland revolt is less well known than the Sharpeville massacre or the Soweto uprisings, but this was the history invoked when the striking miners at Marikana referred to the small hill on which they gathered as “intaba”. The three documentaries discussed above, and two existing book-length studies on the Marikana massacre, Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer and Greg Marinovitch’s Murder at Small Koppie (both of which reference geographical features of landscape in their titles), say nothing explicit about “intaba” and the link to rural resistance.
The long history of rural resistance in the Eastern Cape also includes the story of the Cattle Killing of 1856-7, when many of the amaXhosa slaughtered their cattle and destroyed their crops, believing that the ancestors would rise from the dead, bringing with them new, purified cattle and grain, and that the white colonists who had brought so much oppression and misery, including the dreaded lungsickness that was infecting their cattle, would be driven into the sea. After the slaughter of around 400 000 cattle, as many as 40 000 people starved to death, finally breaking the power of the Xhosa nation, and forcing survivors into a system of migrant labour. As Jennifer Wenzel has pointed out in Bulletproof, the Cattle Killing was one of a number of nineteenth-century anti-colonial millenarian movements that “responded to the alienation of land and vital resources”, and drew on earlier Xhosa prophecies “that included promises of invulnerability to bullets”. This legacy of anticolonial prophecy may go some way towards explaining why some of the striking miners at Marikana chose to visit a sangoma (traditional healer) to obtain “muti” (medicine) to make them “bulletproof” prior to the massacre.
Bearing in mind the history of rural resistance in the Eastern Cape, the narrative of the Cattle Killing may be put into conversation with Dumile Feni’s words about the phrase “Yakhal’inkomo” as recorded by Serote, and with Mabulu’s painting of Marikana, which represents the miners in the figure of a black man with the horns of a cow. Indeed Feni’s words about “Yakhal’inkomo” take on chilling resonance in light of the Cattle Killing. Through Mabulu’s “Yakhal’inkomo: Black Man’s Cry” and its allusions, the strikes at Marikana in 2012 can be seen not only as an instance of “Gewalt” by organized labour, but also as a millenarian cry of black pain.
Alexander, Peter, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell, Bongani Xezwi. 2012. Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer. Johannesburg: Jacana.
Attwell, David. 2005. Rewriting Modernity: Studies in Black South African Literary History. Scottsville: Unversity of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
Benjamin, Walter, (1921) “Critique of Violence”. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. New York: Schocken Books. 277-300.
Desai, Rehad, Dir. 2014. Miners Shot Down. Uhuru Productions.
Derrida, Jacques. 1992. “Force of Law”, in Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice. Eds. Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld and David Gray Carlson. New York: Routledge.
Du Preez, Amanda. 2015. “The Marikana Massacre: Seeing it All”. Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies.16.4. 419-442.
Farlam Commission of Inquiry Report. 2015.
Kaganof, Aryan. Dir. 2014. Night is Coming: Threnody for the Victims of Marikana. African Noise Foundation.
Kaganof, Aryan. 2015. “When Kaganof Met Death”, Poetry Africa festival.
Kepe, Thembela, and Lungisile Ntsebeza. 2011. Rural Resistance in South Africa: The Mpondo Revolts after Fifty Years. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill.
Kodwa, Zizi, for the ANC. 2015. “ANC congratulates Miners Shot Down documentary makers”. 24 November. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/anc-congratulates-miners-shot-down-documentary-mak
Vladimir Lenin. 1952 (1917). “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism”. Selected Works of V.I. Lenin, Vol. 1 Pt. 2. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House.
Marinovitch, Greg. 2016. Murder at Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre Century City: Penguin Books.
Ngozi, Winston Mankuku, 1968. “Yakhal’inkomo” (jazz melody).
Nzimande, Blade. 2015. “How biased ‘pseudo left’ filmmaker Rehad Desai got Marikana wrong.” Rand Daily Mail. 15 July.
Saramago, José. 1997 (1995). Blindness. Trans. Juan Sager. London: Harvill Press.
Saragas, Aliki, Dir. 2015. Mama Marikana. MA film project, University of Cape Town.
Sepulveda, Jesus. 2005. The Garden of Peculiarities. Los Angeles: Feral House.
Serote, Mongane Wally. 1972. Yakhal’inkomo. Johannesburg: Renoster Press.
Shaoul, Jean. 1998. “Tiny Rowland: No Longer the “Unacceptable Face of Capitalism”. World Socialist Website. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1998/07/rowl-j29.html
Tomba, Massimilano. 2009. “Another kind of Gewalt: beyond law. Re-reading Walter Benjamin”. Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory. 17.1. 126-144.
Wenzel, Jennifer. 2009. Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anti-Colonial Prophesy in South Africa and Beyond. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Zizek, Slavoj. 2008. Violence: Six Sideways Reflections. New York: Picador.
January 12, 2016
keep reading this article here: http://slipnet.co.za/view/blog/marikana-and-its-redoubling-as-true-crime-media/
January 6, 2016
January 4, 2016
December 26, 2015
Night is Coming is unbearable in that the very movement of the film gives an exact account of what it proposes: on one hand, a powerful generating spiral that is no longer a despotically scripted architecture but a filiation en abyme, coil and strophe without origin (but within catastrophe), unfolding ever more widely and rigorously; but on the other hand, an interstitial flowing of state power that seeps through the whole porous network of the media, the mental, and of dead bodies, infinitessimally modulated by the murderous technologies of power. In short, Night Is Coming is a mirror of the state powers it describes. It is there that its strength and its seduction lie, and not at all in its “truth index”, which is only its leitmotiv; these procedures of truth are of no importance, for Kaganof’s discourse is no truer than any other. No, Night Is Coming’s strength and its seduction are in the analysis which unwinds the subtle meanderings of its blind object (a blind subject is, of course, impossible)
describing it with a tactile and tactical exactness, where seduction feeds analytical force and where the moving image itself gives birth to the operation of new powers. Such also is the operation of myth, right down to the symbolic effectiveness of the Marikana massacre as described by Mongane Wally Serote – “police are human too”. Kaganof’s film Night Is Coming is not therefore a discourse of truth but a mythic discourse and I secretly believe that it has no illusions about the effect of truth it produces. That, by the way, is what is missing in those who follow in Kaganof’s footsteps and pass right by this mythic arrangement to end with the truth, nothing but the truth.
December 18, 2015
November 3, 2015
October 21, 2015
October 10, 2015
Marietjie Pauw – THE FLUTE IS A GUN: A FLAUTIST’S PERSPECTIVES ON THE KAGANOF FILM, ‘NIGHT IS COMING: A THRENODY FOR THE VICTIMS OF MARIKANA’
The new psychological automaton that Deleuze distinguishes in the time-image also corresponds to the schizo: characters that are no longer driven by psychologically motivated motor action, but are defined in relation to the affects they can trigger.
— Patricia Pisters (2008, 112)
[The film] is an elegy for those who must survive Marikana as event.
— Aidan Erasmus (2015)
Patricia Pisters engages in analysis of cinema through Deleuzian schizoanalysis, and notes that ‘even if everybody knows that an image is staged, it has an effect: it penetrates our mind and puts itself somewhere in the flux of images’ (Pisters 2009). I recognise that the controversial image of myself playing a flute gun in Aryan Kaganof’s film (‘Night is Coming: Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’, 2014) ‘has an effect’ even though ‘everybody knows’ that it is an image that ‘is staged’.
In this article I discuss the notion of ‘becoming actor’ in Kaganof’s film, an event that continues to shape my concert practice. I rely on notions put forward by Patricia Pisters and others to help me unravel the image of myself as a gunner, and to move beyond the ‘barricade’ of resistance that an image such as this conjures. Abhorrently ‘entertaining’ the actuality of having being a gunner at Marikana, I sense that I am complicit. Notions from curatorial practice as intervention to classical music concert practice provide a way through complicity and open up spaces for critical engagement, also where classical music is curated.
In order to situate this article within my current research, and also to explain events that led to the creation of the Kaganof film, I begin by noting that my research explores intersections between South African classical flute compositions in concert practice, curatorship, and ‘landscape’ as theme of exhibition for concert events, all as informed by a relatively new paradigm for research in music aligned with artistic research (Borgdorff 2007, 2012). Artistic research is described by Henk Borgdorff as ‘a transformation that occurs from an aesthetic project to an artistic argument’ (Borgdorff 2012, 238). For my research ‘a concert’ is therefore a site of experiment rather than a platform for showing repertoire or skill only, so that I call these exhibitions ‘concert events’. Over a period of two years I presented several such events, each with selected interpretations of landscape as theme. One of these ‘landscape-themed’ concert events, and the subsequent journey of a particular flute composition on that event, informs the current article.
A FILMMAKER’S INTERVENTION
Partly due to my vested interest in landscape as topic for music concert events, I found myself included on a committee that helped administrate the ‘Hearing Landscape Critically’ conference that took place in Stellenbosch in 2013. This conference was the second in a series of three such inter-disciplinary conferences that investigated music and landscape as topics. The initial conference took place in 2012 in Oxford (where the Network Investigation is also located under Daniel Grimley), and the third conference took place in January 2015 in Boston.
The administrative committee for the 2013 conference attempted to contextualise the Stellenbosch conference by noting that landscape is also a tension of mud, pooh, poverty, contested ownership and landscape as land shaped by layers of inscripted harm. For this reason the committee orchestrated a walk on the local dumpsite (where informal recyclers were at work), the committee screened controversial films, and commissioned several creative outputs, one of which was film media. For the latter we extended an unscripted commission to the filmmaker Aryan Kaganof to attend the conference and then produce a series of short films. Kaganof produced a long film of 73 minutes entitled ‘Night is coming: A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’. He also produced an editor’s cut of 27 minutes in length (from the longer version) entitled ‘A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’. (Although there are therefore two films, I refer to these in the singular throughout this article.)
The film takes the violence of the Marikana ‘ritual murders’ (as Kaganof calls them), together with ‘blindness’ and ‘omission’ as topics. The filmmaker critically addresses the conference, academe, and musicology in particular for having omitted even brief mention of the momentous ‘blight’ of the Marikana massacre on the recent South African landscape. The film critiques and laments this omission as an ideological distortion; a form of blindness.
On the 2013 conference I presented a flute and chamber music concert entitled ‘Water, stray cattle and the urban: Dwelling in South African landscapes’. My programme included compositions by Fiona Tozer, Stanley Glasser, Bongani Ndodana-Breen and Hans Huyssen, compositions that each highlighted various aspects of the tensions of landscape. The solo flute composition by Stanley Glasser, entitled ‘Jabula’, meaning happy, and my rendition of this composition, became a central image relevant to the filmmaker’s argument.
In prior e-mail discussions that I had with the filmmaker in August 2013 (needing to organise his accommodation, forwarding him with the conference programme, etc.,) our discussion also turned to his preference for the solo flute music of Giaconti Scelsi, for example a composition entitled ‘Pwyll’ (composed in 1954). I mentioned my training in international styles of flute playing, but with significant focus on the French flute school and its tone. I mentioned that my (French) flute tone required re-contextualising and re-sounding for playing non-French local repertoire, so much so that I was experimenting with a flute sound I could hardly call ‘French’ when playing some local compositions. I noted to Kaganof that I was looking for and finding a different grain to my flautistic voice in order to sound local music and local tensions.
Little did I know that the filmmaker would not only recontextualise my flute’s sounds (for on the film the solo composition is rendered with an accompaniment on the cello by Frances-Marie Uitti and percussion by Niklas Zimmer.) More radical though, the filmmaker re-contextualised and morphed the flute. In the film, through a series of magnificent visual repeat edits, the flute is manoeuvred into the position and pulsating action of a gun. Visual flashes as well as percussive sound effects both contribute to this effect, played over media material (obtained from YouTube) of the Marikana massacre. More than that, the bodies of the flautist and the gunner policeman merge: The flautist happens to be filmed from the left only. The side-ways held and filmed flute is then manoeuvred into the arms and position of the gunner. My arm is his arm, my body is his body. The flautist plays Glasser on a safe landscape of a conference concert hall; the flautist becomes the gunner at Wonderkop outside Rustenburg, a scene where dust and death is seen and heard. The applause of the audience at the end of the performance of ‘Jabula’ is the repeat action hail of bullets from gunfire.
In existing compositions by for example Jennifer Higdon and Jimi Hendrix, the flute portrays gun violence. ‘rapid♦fire’ for solo flute by Jennifer Higdon mourns inner-city death and violence, as the flute sounds the gun. Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun’ imitates the sound of the gun. Both of these compositions retain critical distance, so that the flute, flautist and audience index − but then critically reflect − on violence. In these examples wastage of human life is lamented. However, in the Kaganof film the flute becomes the gun. The flautist becomes the gunner. Both the flute and flautist become violence incarnate.
Heidi Grunebaum (2015) observes that ‘[t]here are no ready-made moral positions or political narratives that art can provide about the massacre that are beyond complicity’.
Aidan Erasmus (2015) notes that the film’s repeated percussive effects together with the visual flashes resonate with South African reality. He states that ‘the percussive reality of South Africa becomes deafening. Percussive, in the way in which the sound of hi-hats coincide with the flashing of images during Marietjie Pauw’s performance, but also in the sense in which [one] might imagine beating and the beat as much more than just musical, but at once sociological and psychoanalytic’.
AN INTROSPECTION ON THE IMAGE OF THE GUNNER
Comments such as these compel me to take a ‘sociological’ view on Marikana, but to also undertake a ‘psychoanalytic’ angle on my role in the ritual murder, to note the terms that Erasmus uses. With the latter angle I ask whether I am, and if so to what extent I am complicit. If I am complicit and if I am violence incarnated; I am guilty of murder. This thought both abhors and enchants. Abhorred, for I am a pacifist; enchanted, for I cannot imagine ever having held so much power in my hands. Thoughts such as these lead to further observations and questions.
I observe, for example, that I am an actor in a film that theorises ‘through Marikana’ with landscape sound as simulacrum. The film sets out to deliver critical commentary, using the actors at hand to do so. Where simulacrum operates there is perhaps some respite for me as actor. Simulacrum is defined as ‘an image or representation of something: an unreal or vague semblance of something’ for in Latin the word comes from ‘simulate’. I ask whether there is a metaphorical actor’s distance that I am able to retain on this scene of murder. I also ask whether the filmmaker absolves me. Does the filmmaker absolve co-musician-actors such as Hans Huyssen who conducts death? Does the filmmaker absolve Neo Muyanga who sings ‘Praise be’ to a colonial God (or an indigenous God, or a non-existant God) as the bodies are counted and heaped? And does the filmmaker absolve Kyle Shepherd when he plays for the loss of District Six? Are we all merely actors? As I cannot answer for the other musicians, I only interrogate my own complicity.
The notion of complicity is made complex as I sense a critical employment by the filmmaker of the music I have selected to play, and the concert setting on which I play. When I asked Kaganof about ‘my complicity’ he indicated that the music and the sound in the film are the lament, the threnody. I take, from his comment, that I am included as one of the musicians who present the lament. However, from his comment I sense that this perhaps sets musicians apart from the landscape, absolves them, and sees them as mourners (only). I find this option unsatisfying for the resulting distance between music and landscape, and for the disregard of the cold aloofness, machinistic madness and sheer violence exuded in the image of the gunner-flute.
Furthermore, for Kaganof’s indirect answer to my prompting, the flautist remains too strikingly black-and-white (but mostly white), playing classical music compositions on a rigid concert setting. Suspicion further surfaces, for, as the reviewer Helge Janssen (2014) notes, the film contains ‘a stark monochrome flute performance by soloist Marietjie Pauw’. Does the term ‘monochrome’ refer to skin and privilege? And perhaps to my unstopping and relentless flute playing that does not invite a sense of humaneness onto this scene of death?
The black and white edit of the flautist and the audience further strike me as ominous, with audience seated in a semi-dark concert hall, mute, applauding with gunfire. Does the filmmaker use retro black and white to perhaps indicate that he is ‘framing’ me, framing the audience? (‘Using’ me, as one concerned flute colleague earnestly pointed out.) Does the filmmaker’s ‘use’ of the white player and mostly-white audience, together with a portrayal of a relentless playing, harp on easy polarities and binaries that racial South African histories have induced on society? I suggest, of course, yes.
With the above explication on whiteness and relentlessness brought in relation to classical music I wear my skin visibly. This white classical music skin ‘barricades’ and excludes, acting as ‘wall’, ‘frontier’ and ‘border land’ as Lindsay Bremner notes in her essay entitled ‘Border/Skin’ (Bremner 2008, 167, 171). Bremner translates ‘bio-politics’ of skin to architectural apartheid (2008, 167). In a similar way the Kaganof film translates bio-politics of skin into musical apartheid. I therefore remain, in real life, and also by my skin, the representative of power and privilege, and my classical music transported to this continent as betterment and cultural upliftment remains symbolic of power and privilege. These symbols sit uneasily amidst local interpretations of decoloniality discourses. I explain briefly.
I am reminded that the repertoire of classical music and the concert conventions of classical music are ritualised and embedded in a Western-aligned way of doing. Decoloniality as theorised by scholars like Walter Mignolo (Mignolo 2012) reminds that the Western way of engaging with knowledge production, as well as hegemonic dissemination of knowledge to subaltern people has occurred through forms of subversion whereby Western knowledge believed itself to be the betterment and upliftment of other knowledge systems. By contrast, and in the theoretical and practical interventions of decolonial aestheSis (with the rebellious capitalised S in place) the subaltern finds ways of revolt to work towards pluriversality, also in music and arts (Mignolo and Vazquez 2013). Walter Mignolo, for example, advocates the ‘decolonising’ of Occidental aesthetics to liberate decolonial aiestheSis (Mignolo 2012, xvii).
Amidst local interpretations of decoloniality the question then surfaces how, and in what ways do I still play the classical flute, play the repertoire of the classical flute and participate in somewhat conventional concert practice?
ANALYSES OF THE KAGANOF FILM
Introspections such as these remain somewhat speculative and I therefore turn to film analyses that elucidate strategies used in the film. I include observations by Patricia Pisters (2008) and Helen Darby (2013) on cinema in general and Heidi Grunebaum (2015) and Aidan Erasmus (2015) who both comment on the shorter Kaganof film. I include the notion of ‘excess’ by Stephanus Muller (2013). I also refer to Veit Erlmann’s suggestion of ‘anthropological listening’ (2010) in order to incorporate his notion on sound that stops time. The Deleuzian notions of schizophrenia, and time-image in cinema (also as explained by Donato Totaro), I find, are perhaps central to reflecting on the image of the flute gunner.
One of the filmmaker’s strategies is to dismember body parts from bodies, and the flautist is not spared. Although the flautist is not reduced to her shoes, or to her cuffs, or to unseeing eyes (as other actors in the film are portrayed), her flute is extracted and redeposited as a gun. Deleuzian analysis calls such dismemberment ‘body without organs’, or BwO (Pisters 2008, 105). BwO refers to abnormal connections made by the brain and an increasing impairment of the senso-motoric, the emotion, and cognition to the extent that death occurs, for, as Patricia Pisters notes, when there is ‘no mouth, no tongue and no teeth, suicide occurs’ (Pisters 2008, 105).
Such dismemberment is suggested by Heidi Grunebaum (2015) to be an act of decomposition. In contrasting the terms composition and decomposition Grunebaum refers perhaps to the terrain of classical music compositions when she notes that Kaganof critiques ‘‘composition’ by incorporating decomposition to show that complicity is effected’ (Grunebaum 2015).
Another strategy of the filmmaker is the use of the close-up, that (in cinema) ‘takes the face apart’ from the body, as Helen Darby suggests in her analytic of ‘place, space and face’ with regard to Deleuzian schizoanalysis of cinema. With the close-up, Darby suggests, faciality implies delirium loosened from identity. The close-up of a human face dismantles ‘ingrained assumptions’ and produces ‘new traversals of the social field’ (Darby 2013, 295). Darby notes that the close-up of the dismembered face deems subjectivity to be ‘non-human, ‘imperceptible and faceless’ (Darby 2013, 296). Throughout the film the close-ups, some of which are unnervingly tilted, overthrow accepted notions of portraying emotion or compassion, and instead show faces that play doggedly, conduct music persistently, or deliver speeches unremittingly.
Strategic camera angle
Heidi Grunebaum (2015) points out that the camera direction and subsequent point of view is aligned with those that shoot and kill at the massacre (and this includes the flautist). She suggests that a ‘state-aligned perspective’ is created in the film. Aidan Erasmus (2015) elaborates further on this notion stating that ‘[t]he police state is made loud and clear in the articulation of the dirge, of the lament that finds itself in conversation with what may seem like arbitrary noise. […] [Noise] knows its cue.’
However, the more disturbing point of view in this film engages with the complicity of all viewers of the film material. Grunebaum asks whether we as viewers become complicit in the acts of killing through the mere act of ‘looking at the footage […] [through] watching it again and again.’ Grunebaum motivates that this aspect is reinforced as there is ‘no egalitarian point of view, no sharing or shared perspective with the dead.’
The filmmaker uses techniques that have been described as ‘spectres of excess’ by Stephanus Muller (2013). In this film excess occurs in the repetition of scenes, phrases, and noises, so that initial shock is lessened through increasing tedium, but therefore also heightened. Muller notes that ‘excess, debauchery and nihilism’, together with transgression, mark the films of Kaganof.
Strategic use of sound … to stop time
Veit Erlmann notes that ‘[t]he ultimate lesson of [an] anthropology of listening is perhaps the idea that it is in the plenitude of presence, in a realm beyond the threshold of sensory immediacy, but also well below the arrogance of reason, that musical situations put a stop to time’ (Erlmann 2010, 339). Aryan Kaganof’s film makes sound mediate onto a landscape that stops time and requires of viewers to interact and reflect, police flute-guns and audience included. Sound makes us stop to think, to think back, to linger, to think forwards. And when sound puts a stop to time we are faced with reality too unbearable to be able to deal with. Sound makes this happen, and in the film by Kaganof a disorientation of sounds combined with unreal images echo this point home, in a process similar to Gilles Deleuze’s analysis of the ‘time-image’.
Strategic disorientation and ‘wild’ connections in the time-image: Towards schizophrenia
Donato Totaro (1999) suggests that the Deleuzian time image (in contrast to the motion image) fuses ‘pastness’ and ‘presentness’ in a single shot. Pastness is subjective, based on recollection and is virtual; whereas presentness is objective, based on what is perceived and is actual. The time image ‘lives at the limit of an indiscernible actual and virtual image’.
In a similar analysis of the time image Patricia Pisters notes that the time image equates with distortion and delirium, characteristics that are also found in clinical schizophrenia as brain disease (Pisters 2008, 103). For Pisters the time image operates as ‘indiscernibility’ and ‘undecidability’ so that clear categories are erased between dreamworld and actuality, between experiences of past and present, and between truth and fiction (Pisters 2008, 112). In the process ‘reality is endowed with the virtual’. This, ‘reality of illusion’ is, for her, a reality nonetheless, for ‘even if it is not actual, it is very real’ (Pisters 2008, 112-113).
Delirium that is portrayed in cinematography of the schizophrenic can act as ‘barricade’ to atrocity. Patricia Pisters notes that when cinema of this kind makes ‘wild’ connections, our brains equally make ‘false’ connections and disconnections out of ‘normal’ connections (Pisters 2008, 111). We do this for, as Deleuze notes, we are not otherwise capable of coping with ‘the unbearable.’ Deleuze suggests of the time image (also called ‘the purely optical and sound image’) the following:
A purely optical and sound situation […] makes us grasp, it is supposed to make us grasp, something intolerable and unbearable. […] It is a matter of something too powerful, or too unjust, but sometimes also too beautiful, and which henceforth outstrips our sensory-motor capacities (Deleuze 1989, 18 quoted in Pisters 2008, 111).
Violence is therefore made tolerable through the delirium of the time image. Deleuze notes that:
The purely optical and sound situation gives rise to a seeing function, at once fantasy and report, criticism and compassion, whilst sensory-motor situations, no matter how violent, are directed to a pragmatic visual function which ‘tolerates’ or ‘puts up with’ practically anything, from the moment it becomes involved in a system of actions and reactions (Deleuze 1989, 19).
In the Kaganof film viewers ultimately merge opposing experiences of ‘fantasy and report’, ‘criticism and compassion’, and in the mode of delirium, as if schizophrenic, we ‘put up’ with non-reality and violence in the form of a flute gun that kills.
Strategic use of ‘actor mediums’
An analytic of film strategy that bears on the actors in particular is noted by Deleuze. He argues that in cinematography of the schizophrenic a new type of actor is required. Deleuze states:
A new type of actor [is] needed: not simply the non-professional actors that neo-realism had revived at the beginning, but what might be called professional non-actors or, better, ‘actor-mediums’, capable of seeing and showing rather than acting, and either remaining dumb or undertaking some never-ending conversation, rather than of replying or following a dialogue (Deleuze 1989, 20).
It is therefore plausible that in the Kaganof film I have been one of these ‘actor-mediums’, capable of seeing, and capable of showing (rather than acting out a script). As the actor-medium flautist I have not remained dumb, instead, I have engaged in ‘undertaking some never-ending’ flute-playing. In this case it is plausible that the flautist gives a ‘monochrome’ and relentless rendition of the Glasser solo so that Deleuze’s ‘fantasy and report’; ‘criticism and compassion’ merge to distort the sensory-motoric experience and show delirium. I suggest that the filmmaker employs me as actor medium in order to expose and schizophrenia in ourselves and in our landscape.
This analysis of schizophrenia is perhaps my finest ‘barricade’ to the actuality of being a gunner at Marikana. However, through recognition of schizophrenia as process, I find the need for erecting barricades (or Bremner’s notions of architectural ‘walls, frontiers and border lands’) increasingly less obligatory. Instead, the impulse to live with schizophrenia that morphs either into break-down or into break-through (and the latter as mandatory) becomes a more urgent process. I discuss these notions below.
Strategic schizophrenia: The fine line between breakdown and break-through
To my interpretation the Kaganof film points to aspects of delirium and madness and thereby suggests that schizophrenia is a local malaise – a ‘break-down’. The film shows that characters of the South African scenery, the police, the miners, the politicians, the musicians, musicologists, and music, all embedded in the histories and events of the South African landscape, are part of this madness. The audience, as prime protagonists who watch, are included in this madness. But if I were to end here we are all catatonic, for break-down is the result of BwO, and therefore death (Pisters 2008, 105).
I therefore continue by relying on the other side of the fine line that Deleuze draws for the effects of schizophrenia. If not break-down, Deleuze suggests, then break-through. The latter is the ‘machinic pole’ of delirium that allows for some movement and that points to rhizomatic possibilities of creativity, however minimal (Pisters 2008, 104).
The Kaganof film’s characters and events suggest break-down and the result is death; immobility. However, when I apply the analytic of break-through, then there is life; some movement, however limited. In break-through the characters, including the gunner flautist, are, according to Pisters, ‘no longer driven by [sociologically or] psychologically motivated motor action, but are defined in relation to the affects they can trigger (even by completely artificial means)’ (Pisters 2008, 112). Pister’s use of the word ‘trigger’ in this case reverberates ominously, for she makes this comment not in particular relation to the Kaganof film’s shootings.
If our actions are defined by the ‘affects they can trigger’, and since we carry traces of schizophrenia whereby our pasts continue to harm our presents, then we are compelled to seek moments of break-through. With particular reference to classical music I suggest that our gun-bearing actions, also with classical music, therefore need to be pre-meditated, for our actions ‘trigger’ ‘affects’ and effects, possibly creating further violence. In this paper’s final section on curating I further address this notion.
HOW TO CURATE WITH MY FLUTE THAT IS A GUN
In order to move from break-down to break-through I turn to curatorial practice for inspiration. I suggest that critical curatorship poses options into break-through. Curatorship perhaps provides creative ways of being with the (classical) flute music and classical music concert convention that I have been trained in and that I respect.
I see in Kaganof that he operates as curator, as exhibition maker, employing curatorship as an interface between art, artists, the public, the institution, and a topic – and the topic is Marikana. I see the power and critical meaning-making that emits from Kaganof’s curating and I realise that a musician can harness similar power and critical meaning-making when taking on the role of a curator, with curating defined as follows.
I rely on an admittedly idealised definition for contemporary curating as devised by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook (2010, 10). I apply this definition to classical music’s curating to suggest that: ‘Curating in the context of music performances enables and acts as a kind of interface between cultural production such as compositions and performances AND institution AND audience in the development of critical meaning in partnership and discussion with publics, with the concert event featuring as the crucial nexus of intersection.’ I further apply this formulation to concert music practice in an attempt to not only ‘show’ repertoire, but to also facilitate ‘the development of critical meaning’ on concert events.
Critical meaning making here refers not to Platonic epistêmê, that claims universal forms of truth, but to knowledge as formulated by Mats Rosengren to be doxa. Doxa does not suggest that knowledge is ‘apparent or illusory’ but, instead, implies that knowledge is ‘variable, situated and interested’ (Rosengren 2009, 110). Knowledge, as doxa, is
‘always embodied, in ourselves as biological beings; formulated and/or preserved in some language, institution or ritual; practised and upheld by one or many individuals, always in one historical moment or other and within the admittedly diffuse framework of an ever changing but still specific social situation’ (Rosengren 2011, 156).
I suggest that curatorship can seep into the various ways in which audiences make meaning in and around and through classical music. Some of these ways of locating meaning are explicated by Jeff Warren (2014) in his claim for ethical responsibility in music-making and musicology that implies human relations. Warren criticises many of the processes of locating meaning-and-music, however, beyond Warren’s arguments for meaning that lies ‘in music’ and/ or ‘in context’, I argue that curating is able to encourage exploration and critical meaning making as process and not in the product of music itself. This resonates with Henk Borgdorff’s suggestion that an ‘aesthetic product’ transforms to ‘artistic argument’ (Borgdorff 2012, 238).
Taking my cue from Aidan Erasmus (2015) I suggest that Steven Feld’s ‘acoustemic stratigraphies’ (Feld, 2010), that analyse knowledges that surface from the interaction of sound and space, emerge through curating. In my journey with Glasser’s flute solo knowledges emerged from sound, in space, and I add, in time, when I gave a first ‘hearing knowledge’ on a conference concert. A second ‘hearing knowledge’ was given in the film curation by Aryan Kaganof through the broadened context of placing Glasser next to and into Marikana.
Subsequently, I am able to provide further hearing knowledges of the same music curated into successive contexts. The important thing is that the contexts can be ‘embroadened’. Such embroadened context is important for classical music. A broader context helps me recognise that the flute is a gun; that classical music is a gun; that conventional concert music practice is a gun. And that I play that gun.
I suggest that the intervention of the film onto my practice deposits a subversive reinterpretation. Through having been an object (in a film) I in turn claim energy from my concert practice understood as a form of curatorship and I become agent. Despite immediate appearances, this film then rebelliously reinforces with me the acknowledgement of the power of curatorial intervention with respect to classical performance sites of the flute. I now ask of the classical music that I perform to not be alone in its ‘music-ness’ (a term I coin). Instead, I ask of the music I play to be not alone – to be in all its music-ness and to be alongside issue and topics. This request is not ‘negation’ of music as James Currie may argue (Currie 2012). Being in all its music-ness honours the rigours of concert preparation towards excellence (often requiring periods of seclusion), the rituals of concert convention, and the general aspects of technê that, combined, Currie calls the ‘good’ ‘manners’ of music (Currie 2012, 167-168).
I suggest that ‘the good manners’ of curating offers a plenitude of openings and challenges. Curating as a mode of exploration, intervention and destabilisation aims for non-finality and openness. By critically curating music, by acknowledging audience contribution that may also be diverse, and simply by ‘making us think’ beyond our music-ness, Deleuzian post-schizophrenic break-through may become possible. Curating into break-through diverts the gaze from the inwards to the outwards. On the direction of the gaze (or ‘attuning’ of the ears) Daniel Grimley states that
…attuning our ears more closely to the often dissonant, unharmonizing sounds of the acoustic environment around us is a risky process, one that renders us vulnerable and that points unerringly to our own contingency, our transient and fleeting presence in the world. Yet resisting this process, turning our ‘auditory gaze’ inwards away from landscape in search of a deceptive autonomy of enquiry, perception, or the musical work, is a far greater irresponsibility (Grimley 2011, 398).
In so saying, Grimley echoes what the Aryan Kaganof’s film signals, namely that an inwards gaze in our analyses and in our performances is dangerously reckless. The film compels musicologists and performers, instead, to curate classical music’s schizophrenia towards break-through. I further suggest that such curation towards break-through enables a home-coming into the pluriversality of decolonial aestheSis, also for classical music. I borrow Walter Mignolo’s book title (Local histories/Global designs, 2012) to propose that classical music, as break-through, is part of a global design of decoloniality, and is able to curate meaningfully into local histories.
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Borgdorff, Henk. 2007. The Debate on research in the arts. Dutch journal of music theory 12(1), 1-17.
———. 2012. The Conflict ‘of the’ faculties: Perspectives on artistic research and academia. Leiden: Leiden University Press.
Currie, James R. 2012. Music and the politics of negation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Darby, Helen. 2013. Review of Ian Buchanan and Patricia MacCormack Deleuze and the schizoanalysis of cinema. Deleuze studies 7(2), 290-297. DOI:10.3366/dls.2013.0108.
Deleuze, Gilles. 1989. Cinema 2: The Time-image. H. Tomlinson and R. Galeta (tr.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Erasmus, Aidan. 2015. Paper response to the film ‘Threnody for the victims of Marikana’ (Kaganof, 2014) presented at South African Contemporary History and Humanities seminar series, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, February 17, 2015.
Erlmann, Veit. 2010. Reason and resonance: A History of modern aurality. New York: Zone Books.
Feld, Steven. 2010. Acoustemic stratigraphies.
Graham, Beryl and Sarah Cook. 2010. Rethinking curating: Art after new media. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Grimley, Daniel M. 2011. Music, landscape, attunement: Listening to Sibelius’s Tapiola. Journal of the American musicological society 64(2), 394-398.
Grunebaum, Heidi. 2015. Paper response to the film ‘Threnody for the victims of Marikana’ (Kaganof, 2014) presented at South African Contemporary History and Humanities seminar series, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, February 17, 2015
Janssen, Helge. 2014. Review of: ‘A threnody to the Marikana victims’.
Kaganof, Aryan. 2014. Night is coming: Threnody for the victims of Marikana (film).
———. 2014. Threnody for the victims of Marikana (film).
Mignolo, Walter D. 2012. Local histories/global designs. 2nd edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Mignolo, Walter and Rolando Vázquez. 2013. Decolonial aestheSis: Colonial wounds/ Decolonial healings. Social text journal/ Periscope
Muller, Stephanus. 2013. Spectres of excess. Paper delivered at Hearing Landscape Critically conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 9-11 September 2013.
Pisters, Patricia. 2008. Delirium, cinema or machines of the invisible? In Deleuze and the schizoanalysis of cinema, eds. Ian Buchanan and Patricia MacCormack. London: Continuum.
———. 2009. Machines of the invisible: Manifesto for a schizoanalysis of media culture. On kagablog.
Rosengren, Mats. 2009. Art+Research ≠ Artistic research. In Art and artistic research. eds. Corina Caduff, Fiona Siegenthaler and Tan Wälchli. Zürich Yearbook of the Arts 6, 106-121.
———. 2011. On doxa – the epistemology of the New Rhetoric. In Scandinavian studies in rhetoric/ Rhetorica Scandinavica 1997-2010, 156-167, eds. Kjeldsen and Grue. Ödåkra: Retorikförlaget publishing.
Totaro, Donato. 1999. Gilles Deleuze’s Bergsonian Film Project: Part 2: Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Offscreen (3)3 (online film journal).
Warren, Jeff R. 2014. Music and Ethical Responsibility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
In the film ‘Night is Coming: A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’ (Aryan Kaganof, 2014), the filmmaker registers a critical voice on an inter-disciplinary conference that attempts to hear landscape ‘critically’ without hearing the event of Marikana as a blight on the South African landscape. The film severely critiques this omission.
During the same conference the current author played a flute solo by Stanley Glasser to sound aspects of the local South African landscape. In the Kaganof film the image of this flute performance is merged into the image of a gun by rapid edits alternating between concert and massacre images. The flute becomes the gun. The flautist becomes the gunner. Both the flute and flautist become violence incarnate.
In this article I explore the potential deposits of this film by relying on analyses of Aidan Erasmus, Heidi Grunebaum, Gilles Deleuze and Patricia Pisters in particular. I rely on curatorship practice to argue that this film subversively reinforces my acknowledgement of the power of curatorial intervention with respect to classical performance sites of the flute. Hereby, the Glasser solo transforms from ‘aesthetic product’ into ‘artistic argument’ (Henk Borgdorff, 2012).
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RILM summary finds, 50 words (below is 54 words)
This article explores potential deposits of Aryan Kaganof’s films (2014) on the concert practice of a flautist portrayed as gunner in the films. Film analyses by i.a. Aidan Erasmus, Heidi Grunebaum, Gilles Deleuze and Patricia Pisters, together with curatorial practice as intervention to concert sites, encourage processes of transforming an aesthetic product into an artistic argument.
September 30, 2015
first published here: https://theconversation.com/marikana-artwork-provides-a-tool-for-conscientisation-46375