This multimedia group exhibition explores the convergences between South Africa’s struggle against Apartheid and the US Civil Rights movement struggle for voting rights through the Tyler Gallery’s joint collaboration with Syracuse Stage and ArtRage Gallery. In February, Syracuse Stage hosts an international production of Athol Fugard’s celebrated 1972 play, Sizwe Banzi is Dead. John Kani, who originated the lead role, directs his son in that role for this revival. Set in a photographer’s studio, Sizwe Banzi depicts the construction and regulation of identity and how one man sheds this straitjacket. ArtRage Gallery marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1965 Selma to Montgomery march with an exhibition of Civil Rights era photographer Matt Heron’s images printed on fabric banners evoking the spirit of mass protest.
Though oceans separate them, both struggles hinged crucially on how those seeking freedom succeeded in visually defining who they were. On different continents, both struggles overlapped in time and echoed one another’s victories and set-backs too. 1964 saw Nelson Mandela sentenced to life in prison, but the next year saw the Selma marches. 1976 saw Sizwe Banzi’s original cast members jailed for their performances, but also the Soweto Uprising. Apartheid and Identity explores those historical events as well as the ways in which those struggles persist in our own day and are never truly “over.”
Apartheid and Identity presents sculpture, photography and quilted fabric as well as a variety of specially commissioned performances and screenings of award-winning films. Anchored in the Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego Metro Center in downtown Syracuse, Apartheid and Identity also travels when a portion of programming goes to the main campus, thereby joining the series of spring 2015 campus events titled Race, Place and Being.
Apartheid and Identity opens on February 19th with a reception at 5-8pm and runs through March 28th and is a part of a larger campus-wide initiative, Race, Place and Being.