The habits of non-recognition persist into the present. Many of Cape Town’s inhabitants feel like second-class citizens, invisible, unacknowledged and underrepresented in their own city.
Cape Town has seen violent protests on university campuses, and across the city. People are demanding not just fairer service delivery in this most unequal of spaces, but also greater visibility in its built life. The majority of Cape Town’s citizens remain a cultural minority. 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 mix. Hybridity is creatively transgressive; fusion is future-focused; mixing is simply what peoples do.
While researching for, and editing Movement Cape Town, I heard from residents as they expressed their sense of under-representation. Black and brown people 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 hybridity in contemporary Cape Town life.
I conceptualised See as an ongoing project that is produced by my agency, The City, in collaboration with individuals and institutions in Cape Town and across the globe. I named the project See, so that we may see more and acknowledge each other. See in Afrikaans is the ocean, and so our research extends beyond our borders, across the seas and studies the movements and peoples that form our identity and shape our city. I encourage people to look deeper, not passed and learn from our pasts so we may make better, more inclusive futures.
See aims to address and correct the persistent inequalities of the past and this digital space is a meeting place for sharing, idea exchange and making. Premised on the politics of visibility and recognition, it surfaces Cape Town’s complex past, and recognises the scholars, artists, activists, designers, curators, planners, archaeologists, museologists and others, who rescript this history as a resource for the present and future.
This is an open space. With a core of commissioned works, See takes conversations and contributions from anyone working on questions of history, memory and restitution, and the politics of the past in Cape Town. We invite work in multiple formats: texts, imagery, art, design, sound and film.
If you would like to contribute to See, please contact us.