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Invisible Cities: A Re-membering

Thandeka Mnguni


Parish Priests:

Tuliza Sindi, Muhammad Dawjee


19 - The Act of Service


“...What would you say is the worst thing about your job?” “I never sleep at home with my husband and my children. Even if I have a half-day off. I have to come back and sleep here at night (this worker works a 76-hour week)” (Cook 1980:63).

The effectiveness of colonial erasure, according to missionary Edwin Smith was not in how well they destroyed cultural artefacts (which includes black bodies), but in how they dismembered it, by re-ordering, hierarchising, discarding, omitting, dissociating, superimposing, grafting, banning, and so on. The work therefore sees ‘dismembering’ – as opposed to ‘forgetting’ – as the inverse of ‘remembering’. Through the psychological phenomenon of ‘transactive memory’, the work presents black South Africans as dismembered living museums, and asks: how is South Africa’s labour class continually dismembered in ways that erase their presence as indigenous infrastructures, and how can they be re-membered to their original forms?

The project posits that the bodies of colonized peoples remain their most significant evidence of both existing and belonging when their built architectures and infrastructures are dismembered.

The work reveals the disfigured architectural form of domestic workers in historically white-designated suburbs, and works to re-member them limb by limb.

Truth and Myth. Mnguni, T. Unit 19. 2020.

MaMnguni: A Symbol of Resistance. Mnguni, T. Unit 19. 2020.

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