Living With Ghosts
Living with Ghosts initiates an exploration into the ways the unresolved traumas of Africa’s colonial past and its unfulfilled project of decolonisation continue to haunt its present. The exhibition critically addresses the ghosts, spirits, and phantoms that abound in the modern calamities of African postcolonial history. These are the apparitions, the unseen but deeply felt forces – thus at once visible and invisible, material and immaterial – that continually disturb individual and collective relations within the African postcolony and throughout its diaspora, leaving behind melancholic traces in subjectivities, landscapes, architecture, and archival materials. Conceiving of this notion of “hauntology” along several axes, from the spatial and the temporal, to the psychological and the spiritual, Living with Ghosts centres contemporary art practice in considerations of the spectral given the phenomenon’s crucial yet ambiguous relation to categories of presence and absence.
Comprising three overlapping acts, including an intimate gallery display, an art-film screening program, and a live virtual lecture series, Living With Ghosts invites us to feed and commune with the ghosts conjured by a host of artists and thinkers including John Akomfrah, Kader Attia, Zarina Bhimji, Filipa César, T.J. Demos, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Onyeka Igwe, Bouchra Khalili, Serubiri Moses, Abraham Oghobase and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa.
Living with Ghosts returns to Jacques Derrida’s provocation in his text, Specters of Marx – one that inspires this exhibition’s title – on how we might live with these ghosts, rather than eradicate them. Moving beyond the stultification of trauma, this exhibition frames haunting (and its attendant melancholic affects) as that which impels us to “to live otherwise and better.” This is to say that the specter, which bears the affective weight of arrested possibilities and unfulfilled promises, leads us to demand and bring about alternative and more just African futures.