An Impossible Return offers an opportunity to investigate meanings imbued in several areas in Cape Town that was subject to forced removals during apartheid. Specifically, the project – outputs include a documentary and an exhibition – will examine three crucial moments: the forging of lives of humanness, the receipt of the eviction notice, and the eviction itself. These moments are important in the larger understandings of injury and memory, and this visual and oral archive allows for new understandings of justice and freedom after oppression.
Taking a series of photographs by artist David Brown as a starting point, the project will open a set of questions around trauma, memory and freedom in the aftermath of oppression. Intimate documents of family life, the photographs speak of the destruction of community and of the multiple valencies of place and home. It is here that the project will draw attention to the lived experiences of ‘black’ families, and the self- and re-representation of ‘black’ bodies as human.
This project speaks of catastrophe and of the unfinished business of apartheid. Approaching the notion of archive as being open-ended and not bound in time and space, the project will suggest a set of debates that lie at the centre of post-apartheid society, even as they are generally disavowed.