ORDENTLIKHEID: A CREOLISED OBJECT
This body of work focuses on objects found in lower middle and working class homes in South Africa. Though seemingly only used for aesthetic purposes or seen as common place, Conradie suggests that they could provide an important insight and contribution to an understanding of identity formation, by studying what people attach value to and how they create meaning in the private spheres of their homes. The home and the material culture it represents can also form micro representations of how we have encoded our understanding of the world and how this translates into our private domains.
This body of work stems from Conradie’s lifelong fascination with the way in which people choose to categorise and arrange objects in their homes, particularly her own family members in both Namibia and South Africa. These objects have provided her with a language to investigate the creolised formations that identity is linked to South Africa’s history of colonialism, slavery, segregation and apartheid. Creolisation directs our attention towards the cultural phenomena and material culture that result from displacement and the ensuing social encounter and mutual influences between/among two or several groups, creating an ongoing dynamic interchange of symbols and practices, eventually leading to new forms with varying degrees of stability. It was not merely the encounter that emerged from the meeting of African slaves and white settlers that produced creolisation, but rather the happenstance of individuals and groups who were already transformed by conquests and exchanges who came from diverse cultures and from varying geographic regions.
Interestingly, when one starts to look at how certain objects became part of the mediation of the colonial encounter, they speak of an already creolised colonist and the power of the object to fuel further conquest. What then are the effects of a creolised Europe colonising southern Africa only to produce a new set of creolised groups of people who adopt an already creolised material culture? Ordentlikheid: a creolised object tries to explore this question. As such, we do not entangle objects, but objects entangle us.
© 2019 Stephané E. Conradie