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Reitz Hostel: Refracting the coloured image of the sun (2008)

i) The persistence of vision

ii) Brutal Fruit

Conceptual photography

The photographs were taken at the Reitz hostel complex on UFS campus three months after students evacuated the building due to the race discrimination incident and the “walg” video. Projecting a prism created the rainbows that reflect on the window and wall. In each room I came across some discarded objects, mostly plastic beer cups and the Ritsem (the UFS rag magazine) left after the rapid eviction of residents and cleaners. Two days afterward I revisited the complex in order to create more rainbows and take more photographs and found that all the doors had shiny locks installed.

The photographs and elements of performance explore deeply seated racial constructs, but mainly focus on a persistent resistance in meaningfully and authentically engaging with people of other cultures (and doing introspection) to resolve racial conflict. The prism projections in the photographs play on Bishop Desmond Tutu’s concept of the “Rainbow Nation” and on the scientist Isaac Newton’s prism projection experiments made in his hostel room at Cambridge University. Newton referred to the rainbow as “the coloured image of the sun”. The UFS race discrimination incident has highlighted racial intolerance and contributed in questioning the depth and resonance of the “Rainbow Nation. ” It questions the negative impact that inherited ideological constructs have and diminishes the possibility of a peaceful and integrated society.

Thresholds: Rainbow making, geognostic eye, violence, restorative justice, performance