Center for Historical Reenactments: After-after Tears
Founded in 2010, CHR responds to the institution of art and its global histories, reflecting on a period of rapid and unequal urban and cultural development in South Africa. CHR’s past activities mobilized around historic events and sites from the apartheid era to explore how established systems of thought (or ideologies) still condition contemporary life.
With the support of a Museum as Hub Residency, CHR presents “After-after Tears,” an evolving, multifaceted exhibition that explores the lifespan of the organization and its operational strategies. The exhibition follows CHR’s decision to commit an institutional “death” in December 2012, ending its current project in order to foreclose the inevitable evolution of its experimental platform to more formal organization and to negotiate their growing international currency to different ends. CHR’s two years of activity (2010–12) can also be understood as a critical response to the infrastructure of a biennial, specifically the now defunct Johannesburg Biennale (1995, 1997)—activating sporadic but related events over two years instead of using the same period to organize a single exhibition open to the public for a few months. The platform asks what institutions are meant to look like, what they are supposed to do, who they should serve, for how long, and for how much money. The project utilizes the resources of the New Museum in New York to organize a gallery presentation that elucidates CHR’s working philosophy, while performances and public programs propose future directions for their activity. “After-after Tears” is organized by CHR members, Donna Kukama, Gabi Ngcobo, and Kemang Wa Lehulere, as well as associated members and invited guest contributors.