Doctoral Degrees (Visual Arts)

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    Creolised objects: A study of material culture as marker of coloured identity
    (2023-03 ) Huigen-Conradie, Stephane Edith; Costandius, Elmarie; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Visual Arts.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa, coloured identities have been viewed from essentialist and instrumentalist perspectives. As a ‘group’, people racially categorised as coloured, hold a multiplicity of identities that share histories of enslavement, forced removals and various degrees of enforced reification. In this study, I propose that theoretically and practically, cultural creolisation provides a useful alternative from which to explore the complexities that exist within the life histories of people categorised as coloured. Instead of primarily focusing on peoples’ life histories, this study also considers the material dimensions of coloured identities. The exploration makes a case for creolisation being a flexible conceptual tool that is directly comparable to processes of bricolage - the experimentation with various material and cultural elements, to form assemblages. This is a practice I utilise in my artistic practice where I make use of found materials, that reflect the visual cultures I grew up with in Namibia and South Africa, to form sculptural assemblages. From this (semi)autoethnographic perspective, I position the material nature of the investigated objects as having embedded biographies and agency. I have focused on two fieldwork sites: Rehoboth in Namibia and Stellenbosch, with a focus on Cloetesville and Idas Valley, in South Africa. Both sites have a personal bearing on how I have made sense of my imposed coloured racial signifier. I look at both sites as places that have experienced some form of dislocation and how the people living in these locations have been categorised as coloured at various points in their histories. In particular, I investigated object-centred biographies present in select homes of residents in Rehoboth, Cloetesville and Idas Valley to identify how objects can symbolise identity formation and memory in unstable places. I focused on eight residents’ life stories and home possessions to determine the similarities and differences in their biographies and the material culture represented in their living rooms. The data were compared to determine how residents’ biographies and subsequently their material belongings related to contemporary theories about creolisation and coloured identity formation in a Southern African context. From this qualitative enquiry, I found that residents’ homes were a central object to their sense of belonging, with the sub-themes such as home/land, home ownerships (placement and displacement) and home extensions being identified as key concerns. I found that display cabinets became visual storytelling mechanisms from which residents could arrange and display the intimate and public biographical details of their lives and how this pertains to a larger construction of coloured identities in each localised area. Display cabinets were also identified as symbols of respectability and resistance. From a micro perspective, biographical objects, with the subthemes genealogies, status objects and nostalgic objects, were identified as individualising residents’ life stories and consequently their construction of self. Using a narrative approach assisted in unlocking details concerning the display objects found in these cabinets and an understanding of how display cabinets contributed to a particular material visualisation and visual pattern of each group and individual’s identity formation.
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    Exploring critical citizenship and decolonisation as a framework for design education in South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Botes, Herman; Costandius, Elmarie; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Visual Arts.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In 2020 the globe is in turmoil. When this study commenced in 2018 the call to action for the citizen designer was premised on the #Feesmustfall campaign and the #Rhodesmustfall student protests, the July 2021 social unrest in South Africa that resulted in unprecedented violence and looting, rampant corruption in public and private sectors in South Africa and growing nationalism seen from BREXIT and the Trump administration in the USA. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic brought even more attention to the role of the citizenry and how citizens can be capacitated to navigate uncertain and difficult times. Within the field of design, the concept of citizen designer is established. It was considered that the notion of educating a ‘citizen designer’ could be further developed in the South African design education context. The study therefore focused on how critical citizenship and decolonisation perspectives can contribute to a design pedagogy framework for citizen designer education in the context of South African universities of technology. Theoretical perspectives from critical citizenship and decolonisation provided the theoretical base for the study. A qualitative research approach was taken that involved case study research methodology. The data in the study was collected from a survey of and interviews with South African design educators as well as interviews with South African design students. From the data, South African citizen designer can be decribed as designers that have a deep understanding of self, ethics and critical thinking; they operate in transdisciplinary settings with a focus on the tangible betterment of sustainable quality of all life through a caring conscience. The study determined that the themes in critical citizenship and decolonisation perspectives that can contribute to design pedagogy for educating a South African citizen designer can be broadly categorised into concepts related to context, African focus, personal development and curriculum development. The category of context determines the relevance and approach to be taken when engaging with the African focus, personal development, and curriculum development categories. The study concludes with a list of suggested themes in these categories that could be considered for implementation by design educators in their specific field working towards the development of a South African citizen designer.
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    Decentering the archive: visual fabrications of sonic memories
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2021-12) Deane, Nicola Frances; Muller, Stephanus; Froneman, Willemien; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Visual Arts
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Decentering the Archive: Visual Fabrications of Sonic Memories navigates various strategies of inverting and subverting the ordered, categorised and confined cultural archive, in this case, the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) at the University of Stellenbosch. This practice-based doctoral study treats DOMUS as the site for a creative production of decentered reading and writing from archival fragments, while interrogating the role and power of the archive in manipulating time and collective memories by asking the question: How should fragmented or destabilising experiences be remembered given the delinking option from both modernity and post-modernity? My referral to Decolonial theory at the start of this study prompted me to test new possibilities through the “decolonial options” that Walter Mignolo describes as operating “from the margins and beyond the margins of the modern/colonial order. It posits alternatives in relation to the control of the economy (market value), the control of the state (politics of heritage based on economic wealth), and the control of knowledge” (Mignolo & Vázquez, 2013). Since my heritage lies on the side of the coloniser while I grew up within the context of a colonised nation, my position as a South African citizen is divided and complex, hence my attraction to the margins. As an artist who cuts up and rearranges image, text, and sound, my study of an archive can never be strictly scholarly, as in, disciplined and inhibited. Hence, I determined a decolonial option of working with the archive: to re-invest it with an ability to bleed - to traverse the rigid taxonomies and artificial fictional separations between categories that are generally foundational to the archival process of storing (and building on) records of social, cultural and political practices. Sound in the archive, however, carries traces of pulse in rhythm, breath and voice – traces of blood beating – and brings to awareness the vibrations of one's own tympanic membrane. It is the fabric of sound, the pulse of a particular history through sound that stimulates the composition of memories. “Through the ear, we shall enter the invisibility of things” (Edmond Jabès, 1984). The work which is embedded in herri is divided into four passages, these are Surfaces, Invagination, Noise and The Mask. These passages are further infused by my conceptual framing through the terms “dehiscence” and “pentimento”, borrowed from the fields of medicine and painting, indicating the leap across mediums, disciplines and territories of knowledge, towards a mutidimensional understanding of time and space through and beyond the senses.
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    Unsettling segregation: the representation of urbanisation in black artists’ work from the 1920s to the 1990s
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-12) Sidogi, Pfunzo; Van Robbroeck, Lize; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Visual Arts.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this study I explore artistic representations of urbanisation produced by black South African artists throughout the twentieth century. Successive colonial and apartheid governments denied black people full rights to the city through, amongst other strategies, the systematic creation of black urbanisms or ‘black cities’. Commonly known as townships, ‘black cities’ were built to house reservoirs of black labour beyond the major cities and industrial hubs. This forced separation resulted in selective and ambiguous integration for the urbanised black populace. The influx of black people into the peri-urban sphere led to an unprecedented proliferation of artists recording the black experience of living and working in segregated urbanisms. Regrettably, much of the discourses on urbanisation produced by white scholars constructed black urbanisation specifically as a ‘problem’,and the diverse artistic annals showcasing urban black life were classified as ‘Township Art’, a category that could not fully capture the multi-dimensional, complex,and layered experiences of the urban black. A Social-Darwinist teleology that rural-based African traditions necessarily had to make way for urban-based western modernity informed the way black artists’ works were interpreted. Contesting these discoures,I use Afropolitanism, and the associated notions of multi-locality and New Africanism, to reframe depictions of twentieth-century urbanisation by black artists in order to redress the sweeping and essentialising binaries that characterised white writing on the phenomenon. Through a thick description of the major forces that shaped urban black life, I use the redeeming qualities of Afropolitanism to arrive at alternate interpretations of the artistic representations of black urbanisation created by black artists, which ultimately unsettle the rural-urban and tradition-modernity dichotomies.
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    Crafting anti-stereotypes : creating space for critical engagement through art
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2020-12) Moahi, Donlisha; Costandius, Elmarie; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Art and Social Sciences. Dept. of Visual Arts.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Xenophobia and Afrophobia attacks in South Africa and the corresponding reactions of African countries to these discriminatory and stereotypical perceptions of foreigners remain in the news. This study provides a timely contribution to the discourse on these phobias by highlighting the impact of discrimination in the school environment. The Botswana Government, as many other African governments, values multiculturalism in schools and officially supports an educational system that encourages a tolerance for diversity among people. However, the results from this study point towards learners’ and teachers’ intolerance for diversity and the other. Within this context, the aim of this study was to explore visual arts in a school in Botswana’s South East Region as a tool for learners to negotiate social and cultural meanings and to inform understandings of the self. Accordingly, the main research question was to explore the extent to which art processes can facilitate safe spaces for learners to openly engage in dialogue about stereotypes and discrimination. A qualitative approach to research was used for this study and a case study design was conducted through a process of using various methods of data collection that obtained a holistic and meaningful understanding of 75 learners’ real-life circumstances. Interpretive analysis was used to gain insight into the nature of the impact of social, political and historical contexts at school on the ways in which learners navigate their spaces of learning in a world of difference. The data revealed that learners were exposed to various forms of discrimination, or were themselves discriminating against others. These behaviour types manifested mainly as acts of bullying, which were mostly aimed at stereotypical views of tribal features that included both physical features such as skin colour and cultural features such as language. In this regard, tribal discrimination is similar to racial discrimination and reflects the ingrained mindsets left behind by colonialism. Discrimination furthermore occurred in terms of social class and income as well as sexual orientation. Accordingly, stereotyping was outlined as a technique used to discriminate against the other. Through carefully chosen art projects that encouraged reflection and collaboration, the art classroom accommodated victimised learners and the art processes facilitated engagement to express visually and/or verbally what has been unsaid or hidden. Art practices enabled a safe space for marginalised voices by creating a meeting place for two opposing processes: between rigid judgements associated with stereotypes on the one hand and ongoing, non-judging engagement on the other hand. The anticolonial and postcolonial perspectives that were introduced helped all learners to uncover social and institutional injustices. To this end, social justice education with specific reference to the role that art pedagogies can play is shown as a necessary stepping stone towards multicultural education and towards change that will dismantle the discriminatory hierarchical structures in schools in order to enable more equal opportunities for all learners.