Not My War puts focus on the Border WarThe Famous Idea Trading Company
The Michaelis Galleries and the Gordon Institute for Creative and Performing Arts (GIPCA) present the art exhibition Not My War in Cape Town.
Not My War is an exhibition of works by significant South African artists reflecting on the country’s involvement in border wars in northern Namibia and southern Angola during the 1960’s to 1980’s. The exhibition opening is at 18:00 on 29 June, and it will run until 25 July.
Up until 1994, almost all able-bodied white South African men were called up for National Service around the year they turned 18. Most were put through rigorous physical and skills training, and many sent to fight in South Africa’s so-called Border War in Northern South West Africa and Southern Angola.
Marking the 25th anniversary of what is now commonly referred to as the Border War’s bloodiest and most decisive battles, most notably at Cuito Cuanavale, Not My War looks at how a selection of artists have been impacted by and responded to this critical point in the nation’s history.
As far as most of these conscripted young men were concerned, there was little option but to perform their national duty. One’s call-up could be deferred for a few years if one studied, but to avoid it meant facing harsh consequences. The options were to object on conscientious or religious grounds and face a six-year jail term, or flee the country.
Since the shift in political power in 1994, many of the men who fought in Border War have felt themselves to be recast in an insidious light. While many soldiers believed the SADF’s rhetoric that they were fighting in Angola to shield their country from the violent tide of communism, the war is now widely regarded as an unjust conflict that upheld the racist interests of apartheid.
The Border War has in many ways become forgotten in post-apartheid South Africa, as remembering this ‘silent war’ would mean – both on an institutional and personal level – engaging the struggle to reconcile the propaganda, trauma, heroism and racism implicit in a discussion of its nature.
In recent years, however, a large amount of material concerning South Africa’s Border War in Namibia/Angola has burst onto the cultural landscape. Where a decade ago such material was scarce, in the last five years there has been a considerable surge of novels, biographies, documentaries, films, theatre, photography and visual art all dealing with this subject. It would seem that the muzzle on South Africa’s ‘silent war’ – in the cultural sphere at least – has begun to lift.
Furthering the resurgence of dialogue around this ‘silent war’, Not My War will endeavour to engage the complex personal and institutional discourse surrounding this conflict, as well as highlight the war’s continuing relevance and effect on South African society.
The exhibition is curated by David Brits, and participating artists are Wayne Barker, Christo Doherty, Paul Emmanuel, John Liebenberg, Jo Ractliffe, Colin Richards, Chad Rossouw, Penny Siopis, Christopher Swift and Gavin Younge. Exhibition and catalogue text by Natasha Norman.
For further information, please contact Cara van der Westhuizen, tel: 021 480 7170 and email@example.com
The Michaelis Galleries are at the Michaelis School of Fine Art on the Hiddingh Campus, 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Opening hours are Tues – Fri 11.00 to 16.00, Sat 10.00 to 13.00 or by appointment.
Note to editors
About GIPCA: The University of Cape Town’s Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) facilitates new collaborative and interdisciplinary creative research projects in the disciplines of Music, Dance, Fine Art, Drama, Creative Writing, Film and Media Studies. Interdisciplinarity is a key theme of the institute and projects are imbued with innovation, collaboration and dialogue with urbanism and community. GIPCA was launched in December 2008 with a substantial grant from Sir Donald Gordon, founder of Liberty Life. An Advisory Board comprising Heads of Departments of all Performing and Creative Arts Departments at UCT helps to shape contexts for the instigation and development of projects by students and staff, as well as a wide range of institutions and individuals outside the university. For more information on the 2012 GIPCA programme, visit www.gipca.uct.ac.za or phone 021 480 7156.
GIPCA Director: Associate Professor Jay Pather
GIPCA Project Manager: Adrienne van Eeden-Wharton
Chair of the GIPCA Board: Professor Paula Ensor
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Web site: http://www.gipca.uct.ac.za
Michaelis Gallery, Orange Road Gardens Cape Town Western Cape South Africa