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Multi-discipline SDC

Vela 6911 & tectonik:TOMBWA by Victor Gama and Stacy Hardy


Public performances

Friday April 26 at 8pm
Rhodes Box Theatre, corner of Somerset and
Prince Alfred Streets
Makhanda (Grahamstown)

Thursday 15 May at 8pm
Chimurenga, 157 Victoria Road
Cape Town

Angola >> South Africa

How do we write history in contexts, such as Southern Africa, where history has been erased, manipulated and changed by competing regimes of power? Can we use personal narratives and  indigenous research methodologies to challenge Western constructs of historic truth?

These question have formed the basis for a long term collaboration between South African researcher and writer Stacy Hardy and Angolan musician, composer and designer of innovative musical instruments, Victor Gama.

This May, Gama and Hardy will spend two weeks in Cape Town producing a  multimedia book, titled Vela 6911, and seeking out partners to collaborate on a staging of Gama’s work in South Africa.

The book is based on Gama and Hardy’s long-term research into “The Vela Incident,” an controversial secret nuclear test undertaken by the apartheid government, Israel and the USA in Antarctica in 1979. Gama and Hardy’s research, which included a field trip to Antarctica, yielded field notes and thousands of photographs engaging the Cold War waged in Southern Africa and the ecological impact of technology. It also unearthed the diary of Lindsey Rooke, a naval officer who was part of the Nela test.

The work became the subject for controversy after it was presented at Stanford University (USA) in 2015. Nuclear researchers demanded Gama and Hardy release Rooke’s diary, to be used as hard evidence to prove or disprove the nuclear test on 9/22/79. At the time, Gama and Hardy rejected the call as it perpetuated the very concepts of history, sovereignty, nationalism, citizenship, security and freedom that the project sought to resist. However, they believe this important history should be publicly available, especially in Southern Africa.

During the two week residency they will interact with artists and publishers, write essays, edit Rooke’s diary and select scores composed by Gama, as well as images and text from field notes to produce a multimedia book that offers a new shared histories and counter-histories of Southern Africa that combines personal narratives, indigenous knowledge systems and artistic approaches.

During the residency Gama will interact with local musicians and artists and participate in discussions and workshops at the Rhodes Music Department and Library of African Music (ILAM) in Grahamstown, The ICA at UCT and  AFRICA OPEN INSTITUTE, University of Stellenbosch.

In addition Gama will present a public performance of tectonik:TOMBWA on Thursday May 15 at Chimurenga, 157 Victoria Road, Woodstock 7925 Cape Town.

This project is supported by an ANT Mobility Fund Grant.