We are absolutely ending this


We are absolutely ending this. This is a proposition. An invitation to collectively reflect on an institution’s lifespan.

Since 2010, The Center for Historical Reenactments (CHR) has been exploring context specific approaches and operational strategies for artistic and curatorial research. Examining the intersection of art and historiography in the post-1994 cultural landscape, CHR has developed a series of process-based investigations, actions, presentations, conversations and events. For the past two years, the center revisited questions such as those raised by the second Johannesburg biennial—which enjoyed international acclaim but limited local interest – regarding the contemporary political climate and concerning artistic positions.

At the end of its two-year span CHR presents “We are absolutely ending this” an event which reconsidered what it means to outlive central questions foregrounded during its formation. The program included a series of simultaneous activities and presentations that ran from noon to mid-night on December 12, 2012. Performances, videos, projections, power-point presentations, concept food, dance breaks, discussions, a boxing match, talks and lectures looked back at the project’s two years of operation from the vantage point of the concluding remarks.

The questions remain pertinent and ingredients remain the same, words and images, objects and sounds, people and tools, walls and windows but perhaps the answers need to be reassessed. The phantom (call it a mission statement, a concept, a void made visible) was recognized and turned into a sculpture that dropped a pin over our roof, a marker that makes the institution function in certain ways, not ways that are undesired (or redundant) but rather desired differently.

We are absolutely ending this, partially due to the question of mystery regarding the audience, partially because of expectations of deliverance, and partially the trap of sustenance. Those who initially walked through the door, now simple must take a leap out the window. Not because they enjoy it more, not even because its more risky, but rather, just because it happens to be there. The institution does not have to be Hotel California; you can check out, you can leave, and next time you come around, it simply might not be there.

In November 2010 CHR initiated "Xenoglossia, a research project", which considered the contested phenomenon of xenoglossy (whereby a person inexplicably comes to speak or write a language unknown to him/her) through a year-long process in which the CHR space was activated with a series of events and interventions that investigated historical contradictions and mutual understandings derived from art forms and politics. Through this process of investigations the projects’ appendixes "Na Ku Randza" and "Fra(gile)", both off-site interventions as well as "Rechewed" were staged. Each of the ‘appendixes’ employed a critical reading of histories by investigating spaces of translation – working site-specifically and intervening in making visible hierarchies and the fragility of historical archives.

Through its projects, rather than attempting to fill a void in the local institutional platform, the Center aimed to make it [the void] visible or to point to it. CHR wanted to highlight this historical gap, to resume the looming unfinished conversations, to call the ghost of the discontinued biennial that hovered over symposia, panel discussions and openings, like a spirit of a disappeared uncle. Now the void has turned into a mine, and is being extracted emphatically.

"We are absolutely ending this" will feature contributions by CHR, Tony Cokes, Shahab Fotouhi, Ryan Inouye, Stanya Kahn, Mbali Khoza, Murray Kruger, Daniel Lyonga, Sohrab Mohebbi, Georges Pfruender and Danna Vajda.

This project was developed through a partnership with the Museum as Hub at the New Museum, New York. CHR began a Museum as Hub residency in October 2011 that will culminate in “After-after Tears,” a multi-faceted project encompassing an exhibition and series of performances and talks that will run through May-July 2013.

For further information see www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/center-for-historical-reenactments-after-after-tears-1