Infinitely Imagined Paradise: I am Gone.

The Melrose Gallery
May 14, 2019 8:59AM

Texts and Curation by Melissa Goba, April 2019.

When asked to curate Christiaan Diedericks’ solo exhibition at The Melrose Gallery and before having seen the body of work my mind conjured images of a futuristic African kingdom steadily entering the new chapter in a reign that was an amalgamation of a scene from Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda (Black Panther) and the opening chapter of Ben Okri’s ‘Infinite Riches’. In my mind this new century was filled with strong female leaders with forethinking concepts about power beyond colonialism and patriarchy. Visions of equanimity beyond the mockery of pain. The new king following “T’Challa’s” reign was “Rafiki-esque”. An ancient orator with ancestral prowess embracing the complexity of her family’s privilege and benefit from the colonial project. Her mission: to lead her people toward the vision of healing.

This was not the reality reflected in Diedericks’ body of work. His reference soundtrack “Without Blame” lamented an exit: “I am gone in search of a new king. I am gone.” The seductive imagery and supporting text spoke rather of a displacement – a frantic panic removed from his own subjectivity and benefit in the South African colonial and apartheid history. The sobering contemporary contemplated a month before the South African elections depicted characters oblivious to this search invoked by the title of his work. The crescendo of this moment filled with inquisitions and enquiries narrated in vernacular tongues excluding some from hearing the campaign message of those in power.

The mere notion of a King in this moment reminds us of the role of Kingdoms and Homelands in the Apartheid state and the precarious nature thereof in a Democratic Constitution. Suffice to say the experience of curating such from a black female subjectivity is a complex one that can’t be loosed from anger, pain, disappointment and confusion. Dare I say we are now experiencing the curse of living in ‘Interesting Times’?

The Melrose Gallery