Aldo Brincat

27 May 2020 | Text and photos Aldo Brincat

Aldo Brincat, a visual art student at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, celebrates a unique subculture from Botswana, known colloquially as the MaRock.

Brincat began collaborating with the MaRock people in 2012 by documenting their remarkable lifestyle, their counter-culture philosophy and their deep sense of brotherhood. This body of images forms part of a collection titled Foreign Nationals and sets the MaRock firmly in the Kalahari Desert.

Corrupted rural settings and industrial waste sites underscore feelings of alienation that the MaRock reflect to Setswana traditional tribal culture and, indeed, to themselves. Translated into austere black-and-white images, Brincat further emphasises the idea of foreign versus familiar, in both the sitter and the viewer.

The MaRock people forge their identity, primarily on oral history, self-imposed aesthetics, and collective, rigid, patriarchal expression. The core of the MaRock is a fusion of heavy metal culture and their own economic status (or lack thereof) as cattle herders, cemented into place by the inclusion of “country and western” culture (specifically Dolly Parton).

It is estimated that there are well over 2 000 MaRock across the country, and this movement continues to grow exponentially. Foreign Nationals was recently invited to the Brunei Gallery at the University of London for an extended season that clocked up record attendance. Four of the existing images reside in the private collection of the University of the North West.

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