As the spectre of genocide increases in Gaza, we at Unrehearsed Futures took this opportunity to pause and reflect on the role that art can play in shaping vital public discourse about the stakes and nature of justice. In conversation with Palestinian-American writer and editor Lisa Suhair Majaj and South African composer, sound artist, librettist and scholar Neo Muyanga, several questions were raised around what art and language do in the narration of apartheid.
Apartheid is a violence, a separation between people and bodies. It is when one group controls or suppresses another group. The fundamental nature of it is power and disempowerment, equality and inequality involving the criminalisation of language and the use of language and song. Apartheid has been clearly and broadly recognised in Israel/Palestine, but this is denied and disallowed as a naming. Oftentimes, it feels exhausting to have to reiterate the reality of apartheid in Palestine. To make apartheid visible and explicit is fundamental to the struggle.
Some of the questions raised during this conversation were:
– What is apartheid?
– How do we know it?
– What does it look, smell and feel like?
– How does the context of today enable or obscure the leveraging of the arts as political resistance?
– The end of apartheid is promised as the end of tragedy. What is the distance between the sound against oppression then and the sound against oppression now?
– The song was a collective expression of anger and rejection. Are we living in a time when the tragic proportions and its sound and song aren’t leading to changes in behaviour. What must we add?
Since this was an unrecorded conversation, we will not be publishing a long-form piece for it.