The Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series, launched in 2010, aims to engender an exchange of ideas and opinion structured around a specific text or piece of work that is of interest or importance to the public. The ICA has invited a wide range of prominent academics, artists and writers to present at the Great Texts lecture series over the years – William Kentridge, Gayatri Spivak, Sisonke Msimang and Achille Mbembe are just a few.
Read more about individual lectures in the drop down menus below.
The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) launches its 2019 Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series in February, with a line-up that features acclaimed and award-winning writers, artists, academics and filmmakers. The theme underpinning the upcoming series is drawn in part from Kodwo Eshun’s essay, ‘Further Considerations on Afrofuturism,’ in which he writes that ‘it is clear that power now operates predictively as much as retrospectively.’ The present, Eshun argues, is saturated with articulations of the future commissioned by various powerful actors, ‘that are primarily concerned with making futures safe for the market.’
Departing from this standpoint, the intention for the upcoming Great Texts series is to offer talks that intervene in the production and distribution of these futures. The work of imagining futures, Eshun says, ‘constitutes a chronopolitical act’ – a radical attempt to re-engineer the present.
The theme underpinning this Great Texts series is drawn from Achille Mbembe’s foreword to Fiona Forde’s An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema & the ‘New’ ANC in which he writes: ‘[South Africa] is still caught … between things that are no longer and things that are not yet.’ The talks comprising the series will explore South Africa’s state of in-betweenness, as evoked in Mbembe’s words, from the vantage point of things unfinished, things unwritten – an exploration of mutability as opposed to certainty from academic, historical, poetic, musical, artistic and literary points of view. The series, then, is also an investigation of becoming – what and where we are as a country, and how we might become differently.
The second installment of the 2018 Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series looks at archives of black womxnhood as inspired by the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. In the wake of her recent death, and the readings, mis-readings and counter-readings that have been made about her life, this series is interested how the voices of womxn in history – particularly black womxn – might be uncovered and reclaimed in complex ways.
The focus of this Great Texts/Big Questions series is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The ICA presents 5 lectures that reflect on South Africa’s TRC at the inception of our new democracy – its vision, successes, failures, public perception of the Commission then and now – as a foregrounding to a discussion around UCT’s own TRC process.