The biopolitics of Gugulective against neoliberal capitalism
Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In critical and museological practices, a focus on diaspora has not only limited the scope of African art but also neglected a whole discursive field and practical corpus that challenges neoliberal globalisation on the continent. While highly critical, most gallery-bound practices from Africa tend to get privatised and absorbed in inaccessible enclaves of the global art world. However, this study demonstrates that the art of Gugulective has potential to escape privatisation. Within the South African context, Gugulective’s socially engaged collaborative aesthetics contests neoliberal privatisation and co-optation through subject-centred immaterial production. In Gugulective’s biopolitical production, artists and non-artists collaborate in transformative aesthetic projects that contest neoliberal capitalism in South Africa. My term “biopolitical collectivism” describes this collective life-forming artistic practice whose products are immaterial rather than material gallery-bound objects. In a context of neoliberal capitalism, which intensifies inequality, pauperisation, and precarisation of life for profit, Gugulective, among other contemporary African art groups, seeks to transform dehumanised subjectivities through collaborative art production, subjective interchange, and sharing. By decentring the object in subject-oriented art, Gugulective’s biopolitical collectivism confronts biocapitalism on the terrain of life itself. This is particularly evident in projects such as Indaba Ludabi, Akuchanywa Apha, Titled/Untitled, and Siphi? in which Gugulective confronts issues of place, space, and race by deploying a cross-disciplinary and interstitial aesthetic practice which situates itself between the art institution and the non-art world, between aesthetics and activism, the township and the city, the shebeen and the gallery, affects and the art object, art, and life.
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