Ukubuyiswa Nokukhanya (2022)

By cutting, splicing, and layering images and texts, Siviwe James endeavours to re-member herself into the past.

By Siviwe James

South Africa

“‘Ukubuyiswa Nokukhanya,’ which means to be returned and be lit up, is a series of images that explores the physical and spiritual of re-membering and returning to feelings, encounters and memories that are a part of the larger Xhosa experience and way of sensing the world. Each piece in the series acts as a memorialising site, a location for which (re)collection strategies can begin to attach themselves to these intimate re-enactments of time and place.

In these works, public and personal memory act together in a single scene, each particle holding space for a new way of sensing Xhosa identities, histories and sensibilities. Here the memories of Black subjects become pivotal in troubling the memorialising tactics that can in returning to one’s lineal connections. By cutting, splicing and layering images and texts, I am able to re-member myself into the past, visiting with memories that might not have been listened to before, or memories that wish to be heard back from, in new and different ways. Each visual acts as a clarion call for the unconventional Black subject to write against all its former notions of existence.

Through this series, I ask: what sort of materials (or spaces) are available for one to rehearse their personal accounts of memory/trauma in order to find healing? What does it mean to be returned? How does it offer you a new way of seeing and being one with the world around you?”

—Siviwe James

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