‘A luta continua ( Victory etc.)’ 2015
Medium: Site specific intervention in mixed media for the conference ‘Art of Wagnis: Christoph Schlingensief’s Crossing of Wagner and Africa’ held at Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany, 4-6 Dec 2015
This artistic intervention is based upon a creative re-reading of the political slogan A luta continua, vitória é certa (The struggle continues, victory is certain). Historically this political slogan is associated with Mozambique’s armed struggle for independence from Portugal during the mid to nineteen seventies. To be specific, the slogan is considered the political rallying cry of Samora Michel, the erstwhile leader of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or Frelimo.
During the recent student protests against the rising costs of tertiary education in South Africa this slogan was often appropriated by students and their various supporters, appearing in social media on handmade posters in shorthand form simply as ‘A luta continua’. In this particular form, the slogan does not make explicit the possibility of victory, leaving instead the rather dispiriting possibility of a never-ending struggle. However, I think it may well be argued that the obverse is also true – that contemporary South African students are deeply aware of just how naive any hope for victory singular and total appears today.
By replacing the second part of the slogan ‘é certa’ with the term ‘etc’ (‘et cetera’) I wish to playfully shift the meaning of the original slogan into a somewhat humorous even self-critical statement that encapsulate elements of all the aforementioned (the history of the slogan, its appropriation and conditional re-employ in the present post-revolutionary moment). Today victory is no longer certain and nor is it understood as being the sole outcome of any revolutionary, anti-colonial struggle: instead it is joined by a host of other possible outcomes and post-colonial narratives, some of which have become all too familiar. In this regard, although the term ‘et cetera’ is mostly understood as meaning something to the effect of ‘and other related things’, at least one of the more discrete meanings inherent in its usage is the idea that the unspoken, or absent, terms it stands in for are so well known that it would be a waste of time to include them in full. In this way, the modified slogan embodies a form of cynicism borne from our familiarity with the disappointing, even wholly fatigued socio-cultural and political narratives and realities that have become the hallmarks of the post-revolutionary moment (the debt-ridden, corrupt post-colonial regime, the contemporary neo-colonial, capitalist sell-out of principals, assets, land and services et cetera).
Lastly, this artistic intervention is a meditation on the possibility of art to defamiliarise otherwise commonplace, accepted ideas, forms and meanings. In this much the work seeks to celebrate the fearless capacity of contemporary art to generate creative space for imaginative journeys into an unfamiliar future, an ‘etc.’ that signals space to explore, imagine and complete existing ideas without reifying the familiar.
Art cannot pray in the church of fear.
In memory of Christophe Schlingensief (1960-2010).