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The Subverse: Monuments to Hypertextuality

Sarah Treherne



Sumayya Vally and Stephen Hobbs


12R - An African Almanac


The Major Design Project of the year, The Subverse: Monuments to Hypertextuality, is an architectural device (or series of architectural projects) that attempt to articulate difficult, suppressed narratives of pain, trauma, and silencing in South African history, and dismantle grand Apartheid historical narratives. Through mechanisms of diversion, scale manipulations, juxtapositions, and derived nonsensical literary conceits, the project consists of three parts – a surreal stage set, a fictional landscape, and a political subtext. Through a deliberate reconfiguring of historical events, monuments, landmarks and accounts, an uncanny topography of new monuments and confrontations emerges.

Hypertextuality, a reference to the term hypertext, used to describe embedded web links on the internet, is applied throughout the project in a metaphorical way. Key prompts are employed subtly in the design proposal to reference and explore linkages between historical events. The Subverse is opposed to the idea of a singular, grand historical narrative: it is hoped the Subverse will offer multiple new configurations for reading and experiencing history through architecture.

In recognition of the severity of South Africa’s struggle history, the project proposition is a series of fictional landscapes – absurd architectural compositions which employ techniques of nonsense literature and symbolism.

’What is history but a fable agreed upon?
- Napoleon Bonaparte