From 27 January until 6 May 2018 art venue Kunsthal KAdE in the city of Amersfoort, the Netherlands will host Tell freedom, by all means necessary, a group exhibition of work by approximately fifteen South African artists, who critically engage with the past, the present and the future of South Africa, within a global context.
The participating artists have to a large extent grown up after the abolishment of apartheid. They carry with them the history of violence and injustices of the South African past, yet at the same time they direct their focus on the future. In their work, inspired by personal stories and experiences, they comment on social, economic and political wrongs as resulting from history, not only to better understand the present, and their own position within the current transforming society, but also to be able to imagine a future.
The motivation for the exhibition is the violent colonial interference of the Netherlands with South Africa that started in the 17th century. Today, streets and squares and public institutions named after Dutch colonizers, are daily reminders in South Africa of the colonial conquest of the Dutch. These traces are now being removed wherever possible by the younger generations to rid itself of the painful reminders of the suppression, dehumanization, and exploitation of the South African people.
In the past 23 years, ever since South Africa became a democracy, protests against continuing injustices and the daily traces of the colonial past and that of apartheid, haven’t been as persistent as they are now. In 2015, students at the University of Cape Town, followed by many other institutions in the country, literally began tearing statues of Dutch and British colonists in public spaces off their bases, and barricading universities to draw attention to the unchanged inequalities, in particular in institutions of higher learning, but just as well in society as a whole. The painful traces of the colonial rule in present-day South Africa and the ignorance of the Dutch people to their colonial past, is the motivation to make this exhibition.