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Mark Gevisser

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Gordimer, Kentridge, Masekela, Van Wyk, Wicomb at the “Narratives, Nostalgia, Nationhoods” Conference at Wits

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I’m in Joburg this week to participate in the “Narratives, Nostalgia, Nationhoods” conference being run at Wits University by the Apartheid Archive.

On Thurs 28 July, at 6.30 pm, at Wits Great Hall, I’m convening a unique encounter among five of South Africa’s greatest writers and artists: Gordimer/Kentridge/Masekela/Van Wyk/Wicomb – “On Creativity and Memory: Nadine Gordimer, William Kentridge, Hugh Masekela, Chris van Wyk and Zoe Wicomb”. They will present some of their work, and and talk about the role of memory – or nostalgia- in their creative process, specifically within the context of South Africa. The event is free. If you would like to come, or would like more information about the conference in general, contact Nomonde Gogo at nomonde.gogo@wits.ac.za; 011-717-4524

Here is an extract from the press release:

To watch these five national treasures, across three media, on one platform, will be a unique and exhilirating experience,” says Gevisser. “I sometimes think we take our artistic talent in South Africa for granted. These extraordinary thinkers and artists have defined the way many people across the globe think not only about South Africa, but about memory and history, about oppression and liberation. This event at the Great Hall will not be entertaining and provocative, but will be a moment to celebrate the greatness of South Africa’s creative spirit and regenerative capacity.” Gevisser, whose last book was the award-winning Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, is Writing Fellow at University of Pretoria and a Carnegie Fellow at Wits University. The Great Hall event, he says, “could not be more timely. Some people are nostalgic for the apartheid era or for the years of struggle, some people are nostalgic for the ‘Madiba Moment’, and increasingly, people are declaring their nostalgia for the Mbeki era. Perhaps this is to be expected in a country that faces such challenges in the present.” Gevisser notes that, in a country with South Africa’s history, “even talking about nostalgia is very controversial.” With his guests, he expects an event that will “entertain, provoke and challenge the way we think about the past, by looking at our finest artists and writers mine memory for their creative work.” Each participant will present some of their own work, before Gevisser leads a discussion among them.

Another event at the conference that promises to be fascinating is a panel discussion on Philip Miller’s “Rewind Cantata”, at the Wits Downstairs Theatre at 5.30 pm on Wednesday, 27th July 2011. A video projection of excerpts of the multimedia production, Rewind Cantata, created by Gerhard Marx, will pd serve as the point of departure for the panel discussion. Nomfundo Walaza will facilitate conversations with Sibongile Khumalo, Gerhard Marx, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and Nomonde Calata. The aim of the discussion is to explore questions regarding the possibilities and limits of a work of art in engaging with complex moments of history and individual testimony, as reflected in Rewind Cantata. As seating is limited, you need to confirm your attendance to saintha.maistry@wits.ac.za

Finally, I am giving a keynote address at the conference on Wednesday morning, on “A Street-Guide Named Desire: Johannesburg Maps, Memory and Nostalgia”, at the Emothonjeni Centre at Wits University. Talking in the same session are Jacob Dlamini on “Embittered histories: Betrayal and South Africa’s freedom struggle”, Gabeba Baderoon on “Primal scenes: Dissident memories, forbidden words, and the uses of utopia in South Africa”, and Zoe Wicomb on “Good reliable fictions: Nostalgia and narrative discourse.” For more information: www.apartheidarchive.org

 

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