CAIO SIMÕES DE ARAÚJO
Inaugurated on November 10, 2018, the bridge connecting Maputo to the fishing village of Katembe, on the other side of the Maputo bay, is paradigmatic of Chinese-led infrastructural megaprojects in the Global South, in general, and in Africa, in particular. The bridge is not, however, merely a monumental engineering project. It also involved great economic change and restructuring of public finances and carried with it the promises of urban renewal and the development of Southern Mozambique broadly. While the bridge carries with it the “promise of infrastructure” – the promise of modernity and economic development – it also points to the dangers of neocolonialism under neoliberal globalisation and Chinese financing in the Global South. This visual essay “The Bridge'' assembles an immersive, experiential, and memorialist register of the instances of public performance surrounding the Maputo-Katembe Bridge in its moment of inauguration in November 2018. All images and sounds were collected during the weekend in which the infrastructural project achieved its triumphal conclusion: from excerpts of public speeches by members of the Frelimo party and the Chinese engineering firm in charge of the project – the China Road and Bridge Corporation – to the various criticisms voiced by members of civil society. The camera is in constant movement, facing the bridge from various vantage points in the city of Maputo; while the viewer is invited to come aboard, to cross the bridge as the camera moves across too. The various positions of the camera – located inside a car, a bus, a tuk-tuk, the ferry boat, or placed in front of various landmarks of the city – is representative of the multiplicity of conflicting vantage points, affects, memories and experiences surrounding the bridge as an “omnipresent infrastructure” making its mark in the cityscape.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Caio Simões de Araújo is an anthropologist and historian based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), at Wits University, where he works in the Project “Regions 2050”, headed by Achille Mbembe. His research explores the relationship between memory, history, and infrastructure in Southern Mozambique, especially by looking at the social and cultural lives of infrastructural projects and the political imaginaries revolving around them.