Slow Violence

curated by Hentie van der Merwe

GUS Stellenbosch University Art Gallery

30 March – 23 May 2015

Opening: Monday 30 March 18H30
The exhibition will be opened by Prof. Rob Nixon.

Liesl Brenzel, Jean Brundrit, Chelsea Christian, Wilma Cruise & Gavin Younge, Carol-Anne Gainer, Elizabeth Gunter, Friday Jibu, Francois Knoetze, Fritha Langerman, Bongiwe Magwaxaza, Ledelle Moe, Brett Murray, Nosandise Mvimjana, Luan Nel, Vulindlela Nyoni, Walter Oltmann, Lyn Smuts, Janet Solomon, Sohette Wait, Michael Yeltsin

The exhibition will form part of a 3-day interdisciplinary workshop entitled “Disturbing the ‘normalized quiet of unseen power’:

Alternative ways of representing violence” – 30 March to 1 April 2015 – hosted by the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty, Stellenbosch University. The key-note speaker is Prof. Rob Nixon (USA) and the workshop is based on his premise –

outlined in his book Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2011) – that we need to urgently rethink – politically, imaginatively, and theoretically – what he calls “slow violence”; a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all. Nixon believes that we need to engage in a different kind of violence, that is not spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales.
In doing so we need to also engage the representational, narrative and strategic challenges posed by the relative invisibility

of sow violence. In his book Nixon focuses particularly on the environment as examples of ‘slow violence’ – climate change, the thawing cryosphere, toxic drift, biomagnification, deforestation, the radioactive aftermaths of wars, acidifying oceans, and so forth – but in a local, South African context one can think of many other, more socially orientated examples – discrimination, poverty, hunger, depression, and so forth.

The exhibition takes as formal motif the image of the animal to explore Nixon’s notion of ‘slow violence’ outlined above.


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