George Mahashe - South Africa

Musée National du Mali

MaBareBare / Telling Time (2006– )

Dithugula tša Malefokana (2012) and Etcetera ! Etcetera ! (2013) are part of a photography series entitled MaBareBare/Telling Time that began in 2006. Using colonial archives as a source, these projects explore the relationship between time and the image. The archival photographs chosen are representations of the Balobedu people who live in the north-eastern part of South Africa. This society is organised around the Modjadji, the Rain Queen, a ruling monarch who has been the source of curiosity and fascination for kings, storytellers, colonialists, and everyday residents of the country. Photography became an instrument to understand, to categorize and to define this population, and it produced a discourse that entangles knowledge with the exercise of power.

In Dithugula tša Malefokana, George Mahashe questions the status of these photographs through the use of an interactive installation. The viewer is encouraged to manipulate the photographic image using a precise, step-by-step developing process in order to become aware of its material reality and its instability. Initially developed in a dark room, the image quickly disappears from the paper, leaving the viewer with only a fleeting impression, and the overwhelming presence of the physical object. The image is then hung in a lit space and blackened through oxidation. This installation is accompanied by Etcetera ! Etcetera !, a series of videos that are screened on liquid surfaces. This creates a metaphor that testifies to the impossibility of freezing the history of the Balobedu people in time while also deconstructing the relationship between the image and the photographic medium in preparing a narrative. By interpreting the archive as a residue, a changing and malleable physical object affected by time, MaBareBare/Telling Time questions the colonial discourse and its contemporary impact on the production of subjectivities, while also analysing the narrative from the perspective of rumour.

Born in 1982 near Bolodebu –
Lives between Cape Town and Johannesburg

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali