ABOUT THE PROJECT
ARCHIVE OF FORGETFULNESS
The Archive of Forgetfulness is an archive of mobility and infrastructure. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the frailty of basic urban infrastructure for so many. As states continue to wrestle the spread of the virus, the restrictions placed on movement, from regimented stay-at-home orders to the mass closure of borders has led to widespread immobility. With our current heightened sense of being and breathing in this world, we are acutely aware of the longer and deeper histories of forced immobility and segregation, and of the extractive infrastructures and racial violences made material in how cities across the African continent were imagined. Drawing inspiration from Mahmoud Darwish’s prose Memory for Forgetfulness (1987), the exhibition questions how we might engage with what exists in the failure of memory, and that which can no longer be spoken; yet also acknowledges forgetting as an active part of remembering.
The Archive of Forgetfulness is a collaborative and collective project, long in the making. In this current iteration it has three parts: The first is an eight-part podcast series, Conversations with Neighbours curated by Huda Tayob and Bongani Kona. The second part is the online exhibition in response to an open call. The selection committee for this open call consisted of Ali Al Adawy (Egypt) / Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe/South Africa) / Eric Ngangare (Rwanda) / Huda Tayob (South Africa) /Jumoke Sanwo (Nigeria) / Omnia Shawkat (Sudan) / Princess Mhlongo (South Africa) / Zakiyyah Haffejee (South Africa)/ Zoubida Mseffer (Morocco). The third part, which will unfold over the course of 2021, includes six additional projects developed by the regional curators.
The Archive of Forgetfulness holds together acts of remembering: collecting and gathering stories often untold. The contributions renew lines of connections, resurface forgotten conversations, and establish the beginnings of future collaborations. This project is a space for interrogating the archival gesture, from the bodily and spoken, to the written and performed. Beginning with our interest in the entangled histories of how we live our lives, the project is framed by a series of questions: We ask what personal and political histories emerge via infrastructures? We question how thinking through deep and recent histories, across water or through the skies, might reveal alternative ways of living? And how dreams of freedom, and other worlds that might have been possible, haunt our present, and suggest other possible futures?
ARCHIVE OF FORGETFULNESS TEAM
Huda Tayob is a South African architect and architectural historian and theorist. Her research focuses on migrant, minor and subaltern architectures, the politics of invisibility in space, and the potential of literature to respond to archival silences. She is CCA Mellon Fellow on the project Centring Africa, and co-curator of Racespacearchitecture.org with Suzi Hall and Thandi Loewenson. She was the lead curator and project manager for the Archive of Forgetfulness project.
Bongani Kona is a Cape Town–based writer and contributing editor at Chimurenga. He studied creative writing at the University of Cape Town and is the co-editor of Migrations, a short story collection. His work has been broadcast on BBC and has appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies including The Baffler, Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, and The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things. Kona was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2016 and the True Story Award in 2020/21.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER AND CURATORIAL ASSISTANT
Zakiyyah Haffejee is a recent architecture graduate from the University of Johannesburg. Upon graduating, she held a position at the Johannesburg-based practice, Counterspace Studio. At present, she is involved in a project titled 'TakeAway Spaces', a start-up that aims to provide low-cost alternative housing solutions in South Africa. Her work draws on themes of gender, identity and spirituality and often focuses on rituals and uncovering meaning through language, history and religion.
Ali Hussein al-Adawy is a curator, researcher, editor, writer and critic of moving images, urban artistic practices, and cultural history. He has curated a number of film programmes and seminars such as Serge Daney: A homage and retrospective (2017) and Harun Farocki: Dialectics of images…Images that cover/uncover other images (2018). He also curated, together with Paul Cata, the exhibition The Art of Getting Lost in Cities: Barcelona & Alexandria (2017). He was one of the founders of Tripod, an online magazine for film and moving images criticism (2015-2017) and was part of the editorial team of TarAlbahr, an online platform and a publication for urban and art practices in Alexandria (2015-2018).
Ngangare Eric "1key" is an independent poet, spoken word artist, emcee, performer, actor, and blogger from Rwanda exploring various formats of storytelling. His work deals with issues of identities— individual and collective— power systems and societal dynamics. His second album Mwiru, was released in 2021, and is a mix of genres, styles, and languages.
Omnia Abbas Shawkat graduated with a BSc in biology with a focus on environmental studies from the American University in Cairo in 2008. She has a Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Management with a focus on water and climate policy from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After six years in development and environmental management, Omnia rerouted her career to become a digital storytelling curator and cultural manager. Omnia is one of two founders of Andariya, a bilingual digital multimedia cultural platform and cross-cultural enterprise launched in 2015 in Sudan and South Sudan, and in Uganda in 2018. Andariya has partnerships with more than 30 regional cultural entities and operates with a core team of 14 across the Sudans and Uganda and more than 100 freelancing creators across the globe.
Jumoke Sanwo is a storyteller, cultural interlocutor, and the creative director of Revolving Art Incubator. She works primarily in photography, video art, and extended reality (XR), and her work engages the realities and complexities of spatiality in postcolonial societies. She lives and works out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Zoubida Mseffer is an independent consultant and a project coordinator working mainly in the culture and solidarity milieu in Morocco. She is interested in social inequalities and projects at the junction of culture, research in social sciences, and social action. Mseffer holds an MA in Anthropology and a Master of Architecture and Heritage, and worked for ten years as a project coordinator at UNESCO. In 2018, she worked on Houdoud, an arts and research project on mobility curated by Omar Berrada and Driss Ksikes. She also participated in the creation of Kamleen collective and festival, gathering 15 organisations engaged in arts, cultural and political issues.
Princess Zinzi Mhlongo is a theatre director and the co-founder of The Plat4orm, which for many years provided an alternative space for artists in the theatre industry to develop new uncensored work. She directed her first professional production, And the Girls in their Sunday Dresses, in 2008. Since then, her work has toured internationally, and she has received numerous nominations and awards including the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award for Theatre in 2012. She is a recipient of The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics 2020-21 fellowship at Georgetown University, Washington DC. In 2020 she launched Exhibit, a digital platform that showcases upcoming or unfinished work by an artist seeking funding.
Using drawing as a means to hold together, for a brief moment and place, the landing graphic proposes an alternative kind of document or record of the contributed pieces within Archives of Forgetfulness. It uses distance, time and scale as constituents to order (and disorder) hierarchies of arrangement – so that the ‘archive’ might be read backwards, forwards and in-between, in places. The items drawn in this cartography show vessels of infrastructure, organisation or movement– while their adjoining shadow-forms show lost, displaced or untranslatable narratives which are for a moment brought into view through the collation of the Archive of Forgetfulness. Plan, elevational and axonometric projections of the drawn elements correlate to the perspectival tone or framing by the author of each piece – to work with ideas of agency and power as conveyed in documentation and archiving biases. Through these drawings, the intention is to challenge the orthogonal and linear arrangements of the archive that might be remnant of colonial archiving processes, while still looking to produce a frame to hold these contributed viewpoints simultaneously, adjacent and in relation. The website as a whole allows a visitor to non-linearly access and interact with work on the home page, and navigate as a list through the index. The landing graphic was designed and drawn by Sarah de Villiers, under the direction of Huda Tayob. The website was designed and produced by Sarah de Villiers and Frederick Kannemeyer.
Sarah de Villiers is an architect and designer, based in Johannesburg. Her work questions boundaries and borders, and engages with the spatially detectable abstractions of power and economy. She co-leads GSA Unit 18 at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg and is the director at SpaceKIOSK.
Frederick Kannemeyer earned an MTech in Architectural Technology (Prof)(CW) from the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, in 2019, after gaining two years experience in architectural drafting work, ranging from residential and heritage projects to larger public buildings and industrial architecture. During his Masters thesis work - and being a child of the internet - he started exploring ideas around digital space, queerness, and the politics and technicalities of online knowledge-systems like Wikipedia. This work had him investigating the limits of what ‘Architecture’ and space-making means, and aligned with his interest in work that has social, cultural and historical significance.