Walk the city’s streets today, and its colonial heritage is apparent and embedded. It is necessary to make a shift from this fixity, to a more agile and adaptable creole. Hybridity is creatively transgressive; fusion is future-focused; mixing is simply what peoples do.
While researching for, and editing Movement Cape Town (The City, 2015), I heard from local residents as they expressed their sense of under-representation. People of colour felt invisible, uninvited and unacknowledged. Paradoxically, in those instances when they weren’t ignored, they were exoticised – or made ‘hyper-visible’. These encounters demonstrated an urgent need to uncover the creole in contemporary Cape Town life.
Inspired by de-colonial movements like Rhodes Must Fall, conscientising street art of Tokolos Stencil and Burning Museum and the activism of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Reclaim the City campaign, I initiated the See project. I envision a more resilient city, by making it more inclusive and equitable.
I have spent recent years researching other postcolonial and creole cities, linking their stories. The hybridised attitude is at the sensual core of cities like Salvador and New Orleans, informing their culture, architecture and even tourism. It is proudly embraced.
A Shared Space
See is an ambitious project. The aim is to make Cape Town’s comprehensive history more accessible and visible while better understanding its spatial policies and cultural representations which inform the current condition.
This will initially mean working closely with governments, archivists, historians, museums, archeologists, social justice organisations, and activist groups. Reflecting this research will require collaboration. By involving artists, architects, urbanists, designers, and digital storytellers, See will attempt to bring cultural equity to Cape Town’s built landscapes and public iconography.
I See You is a blog dedicated to the See project and in particular the development of the I See You book due for publication in 2020. It is here that research, event organisation and global conversations can take place. This is an open platform where everyone is invited to submit thoughts, ideas, and inspiration.