Insides and outsides: Race and identity seminar

28 August 2006

Master's student Wandile Goozen Kasibe describes himself as "psychologically homeless", displaced by a language not his own and a culture he has shrugged on like a coat.

It's a common frustration among young black South Africans, students like Kasibe who straddle two different worlds: the traditional realm of family and home, and the globalised environment of work and study.

It's also the theme of a seminar the fine-arts student has put together and funded by his benefactors, the Harry Crossley Foundation. It will bring together contemporary scholars on identity and race.

Kasibe has asked them to approach the subject in the context of an ever-changing socio and geopolitical climate. Guest speakers include Professor Melissa Steyn, Tembinkosi Goniwe, Peter van Heerden and Dr Liese van der Watt.

Race and identity fascinates Kasibe; you're drawn into the subject even in his paintings that explore the plight of homeless children and their ambivalent identities.

Working with simple elements like bread and bits of discarded, frayed blanket and hessian (material from the streets), Kasibe captures the facelessness of the street child.

"Bread is one part or element reflecting the notion of begging. Please feed me, it says. How will we respond?"

There is a sense of their identities having been shuttered, and Kasibe feels this is exactly the way we see them.

"Their identities are hidden under a veil of homelessness."

Art is a product of its time, he believes.

"Art must address the issues of society. If it doesn't, it's dead."

The seminar takes place on Saturday, September 2, from 10h00 to 14h30 in the African Studies Gallery. For more information, contact Wandile Goozen Kasibe.

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