After-after Tears

22.5.2013

(CHR), a Johannesburg-based collaborative art platform for research and discussion, "After-after Tears" explored a moment that followed the group's decision to stage an institutional suicide on December 12, 2012.

This act marked a conclusion to CHR's philosophical program of conversations, screenings, public interventions, and performances, which although originally flexible eventually became an entrenched, recognizable form. CHR's staged death foregrounds their intention to not simply conclude a single phase but rather to re-evaluate larger institutional functions and time frames that could enable a different existence.

The project title references terminology relating to after-burial gatherings that are a popular youth culture in post-apartheid townships. This trend—also known as "Wie sien ons?" (Afrikaans for "Who is seeing us?")—becomes a fitting frame for a project that explores commemoration, and more specifically, the cultural performances and rituals around death—whether that of a person, institution, or era. Working in Johannesburg and other international contexts, CHR also employs the question of "Wie sien ons?" in order to consider who, how, and to what ends their project has been or will be seen. Leveraging the platform of the New Museum, CHR examines how its own death may afford its members greater visibility and instigate a new way of inhabiting institutions, one perhaps akin to haunting.

"After-after Tears" also included works by guest contributors in dialogue with CHR's objectives and motivations. Artist Zanele Muholi's CHR-commissioned photograph "Izidwedwe as part of Insila Yomuntu (after Pistoletto)" (2010) conjoins a twenty-first-century goods economy with a Western art historical canon that extends back to antiquity. The video Veejays: The Movie (2010), by anthropologists and filmmakers Sandra Gross and Andrés Carvajal, captures the veejay scene in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where pirated Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood films are reinterpreted into Kiswahili before a live audience. For CHR, acts such as veejaying demonstrate a process of translation in which any "original" is reassessed to lay groundwork for understanding. In this spirit, CHR re-engages its own original projects specifically for this presentation in New York. References to a site under construction, a street, school desks, and various "windows" out to the world extend art's capacity to support other ways of living and looking now

After after tears is conceived by CHR members Donna Kukama, Gabi Ngcobo, and Kemang Wa Lehulere,with Mbali Khoza and is designed by architect Daniel Lyonga. The project is organized by Ryan Inouye, Assistant Curator, Museum as Hub

 

After-after tears - The Proposition

18.5.2013

Proposition by Center for Historical Reenactments

"After-after Tears" explored the political dimensions institutional suicide through reconsideration of temporality, duration, and history.Reflecting on the platform’s recent death, Gabi Ngcobo (Center for Historical Reenactments [CHR] member and faculty at Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg), in collaboration with artist Kader Attia, contemplated how staging an institutional suicide can not only be a form of refusal but also a means to desire a different existence, one that enables the platform to haunt obsolete systems and ideologies that continue to condition contemporary life.A two-part response expanded upon various logics underpinning creative acts of refusal. Khwezi Gule, Chief Curator at the Soweto Museums, delved into the crisis of meaning around ritual, sacrifice, and transcendence in addition to notions of self and collective preservation. Sohrab Mohebbi, writer and then Curatorial Assistant of Public Engagement at the Hammer Museum, considered measures of time in music that produce shared frames of reference in order to imagine ways institutions could also be synched to a different time signature.

“After-after Tears” was organized as part of CHR’s Museum as Hub residency and gallery presentation by the same title (on view from May 22–July 7, 2013). The title references recent terminology related to after-burial gatherings that have become popular within township youth culture in postapartheid South Africa. CHR’s Museum as Hub project follows “We are absolutely ending this,” a twelve-hour event in Johannesburg on December 12, 2012, that staged the performance of the platform’s death. This act ended the collective’s previous activity—a decision to not simply conclude a single phase but rather to question the way institutions (in the art world, political arena, or otherwise) ossify around methodology, purpose, funding structure, and form.

Propositions was a public forum that explored ideas in development. Each two-part seminar introduced a topic of current investigation in an invited speaker’s own artistic or intellectual practice. Over the course of a seminar session, these developing ideas were responded to, researched, and discussed to propel them forward in unique ways.