Mashile explains: As digital rituals, I will explore ritualistic practices in three forms: art-driven social media trends, a new wave of decolonization as indigenous spirituality becomes mainstream, and finally new mourning rituals in the era of social distancing. As resistance, I will analyse the occupation of public spaces by artists around the country led by Abahlali base NAC.
The event will be facilitated by theatre-maker and academic Mwenya Kabwe, and the lecture will be followed by a Q&A with online viewers. Join us at 1pm this Wednesday! Access the Zoom link here.
Lebo Mashile is a celebrated South African poet, author, performer, and producer. A sought-after speaker and social commentator, Mashile has shared her creative work in 28 countries to date. She is the author of the play Venus Vs Modernity: The Life of Saartjie Baartman (2019), the Noma Award-winning collection In A Ribbon of Rhythm (2006), and Flying Above the Sky (2008). She has also produced the albums Lebo Mashile Live! (2006) and Moya (2017). Her acting credits include the film Hotel Rwanda, stage adaptations of K. Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams and Pamela Nomvete’s Ngiyadansa, as well as Threads, a fusion of poetry and contemporary dance. Mashile has spent 16 years working in television and media as a TV presenter, content creator, and voice-over artist.
Theme for the Series
The 2021 Great Texts/Big Questions Lecture Series – Loss upon loss – responds to the complexity of grief and grieving in South Africa and across the continent in the time of Covid-19, with a particular focus on the role and response of artists.
The most critical months of the pandemic have been defined by a near disintegration of cultural and familial rituals for mourning, gathering and coming to terms with death – individually, but especially collectively. A period in which, in so many communities, the deaths of loved ones have followed in such quick succession that there is no ordinary time or proper space to mark their passing. There have been other losses too – jobs, careers, financial security – equally without closure or the promise of resolution. And in the wake of both, a new vocabulary has quickly become part of our everyday speech: Zoom memorials, virtual funerals followed with alarming speed, deep cleaning, lockdowns, social distancing, masks.
The vision for the series draws from the concept of ‘ambiguous loss’ – a term that academic and therapist Pauline Boss coined in the 1970s to name and describe a rupturing of human relationships without closure or clear understanding. Ambiguous loss has since been applied widely across the world in approaching forms of grief that cannot be resolved. In the context of the pandemic, the term provides a possible starting point of collective recognition and reckoning, and opens pathways to healing.
Schedule for the Series
Wed 12 May @ 1pm: Zukiswa Wanner, Creativity in the face of crisis
Wed 19 May @ 1pm: Yewande Omotoso, Death: unfathomable, inevitable
Wed 26 May @ 1pm: Athambile Masola, Grieving: surviving imiphanga through a black aesthetic
Wed 2 June @ 1pm: Lebo Mashile, Crisis catalysing creativity as rituals and as resistance
Wed 9 June @ 1pm: Percy Mabandu, A Call to artistry: Catharsis, and creative grammars against grief
Thursday 17 June @ 6pm: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Title to be announced