n De Arte - Monumental mediations : performative interventions to public commemorative art in South Africa

Volume 53 Number 2-3
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Derived from a distinction that J. L. Austin drew between words that are “constative” and those that are “performative,” performativity, as Von Hantelmann (2014) explains, marks a shift in approach “from what an artwork depicts and represents to the effects and experiences that it produces.” In highlighting the interpretative process, it also emphasises meaning-making as relative. A concept central to much contemporary commemorative art, “performativity” could also be understood to be at play in the conceptualisation and interpretation of creative interventions to historical commemorative monuments and sculptures in South Africa. Through engagement with the P. T. O. initiative in Cape Town as well as two interventions to sculptures at universities, it is argued that creative mediations underpinned by a performative approach enable viewers to glean alternative perspectives about South African histories and arrive at new understandings about how their present circumstances may be informed by events from the past.

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