Goethe-Institut South Africa > Archive of Forgetfulness (Online)

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the frailty of basic urban infrastructure for the majority on the African continent and elsewhere. As states continue to wrestle with the spread of the virus, the restrictions placed on movement, from regimented stay-at-home orders to the mass closure of borders has led to widespread immobility. It might seem paradoxical to raise questions of mobility when the possibility and necessity of movement is so circumscribed. ‘As the 21st century unfolds,’ Achille Mbembe writes, ‘a global renewed desire from both citizens and their respective states for a tighter control of mobility is evident.’ Covid-19 has fast-tracked this impetus. The movement of peoples from one part of the city to another, or from one town to the next, is now heavily surveilled and recorded. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on infrastructures of mobility and its shadow, fixity: passports, borders, waiting rooms, detention centres, railway lines, checkpoints, roadblocks and patrolling police or military. Shifting focus from the emphasis placed on the regulation of movement and enclosure, the Goethe-Institut are asking what it means, literally, culturally and politically, to engage with the materiality of movement on the African continent.

Goethe-Institut are inviting contributions which focus on the things that enable us to move – literally or figuratively – trains, roads, space programmes, aeroplanes, ports, boda bodas, and many others – to question what it means to imagine living otherwise across borders.

The Archive of Forgetfulness is an archive of mobility. Rather than understanding the archive as a direct record, it is posited as a patchy process of memory-making in itself. The Archive of Forgetfulness encompasses and holds acts of remembering, spectres of other possible worlds, and the hauntings of ‘the ruins of futures past’ across temporal and spatial borders. It understands the archive as a form of crafting the past for the future, where these are not necessarily located in a linear relationship.

Contributions to the archive website are invited in the form of short texts, films, photographic essays, sound pieces or video performances that respond to the theme. Works that are a combination of the above are also welcome. The contributions might be new or existing works but should not be older than five years. (For written submissions, Goethe-Institut are only interested in original, unpublished work. Translations may have appeared elsewhere in their original languages, but not in English.) Preference will be given to submissions from the African continent. Selected projects that are to be exhibited (online) will receive an honorarium of R5000 (~255 EUR).

Deadline: 15 January 2021

Find all details online