An exhibition on the textuality of Arabic-Afrikaans
The Goethe-Institut is excited to showcase a new exhibition in its gallery space, titled „koeples boek(e)“. The exhibition will open on Saturday, 20 November at 11am. To attend, RSVP via email to Masechaba.Moloi@goethe.de is essential.
Arabic-Afrikaans is a form of Afrikaans written in Arabic script. This was a result of the intermingling of exiles and slave communities mainly from the Indian Ocean region – mostly Muslims who used the Arabic alphabet for written religious text. From 1795, the cape Muslim community initiated madrassahs in Cape Town to teach Arabic reading and writing. Afrikaans at this time was considered a vernacular language that was frequently spoken and heard but never written or read. Thus, even though the first madrassah students understood Afrikaans, they could only read and write Arabic. Consequently, ajami scripts (Arabic scripts used to write non-Arabic languages) specific to South Africa developed: a form of resistance from Cape Muslims against the Dutch colonisers’ Roman alphabet. Scholars explain that when Arabic-Afrikaans declined due to the dominance of the Roman alphabet, its texts were destroyed or lost. As these texts were rediscovered, an awareness of this form of writing is gradually reemerging, albeit only among the fringes of Cape Muslim communities.
koples boek(e) engages with the practice of remembrance as it reflects on the complex history of Arabic-Afrikaans – straddling between the politics and poetics of the language. The exhibition invites viewers to ponder on the ingenuity of the language’s invention: from its resistance to its survival and ultimately, the precarity of its (mis)communication and subsequent systematic erasure. With careful brushstrokes dipped in ink and bleached with glues, Kamyar Bineshtarigh’s solo exhibition is interested in the multiple layers of this language. Through his notable painterly tradition of incorporating Farsi scrip and calligraphy – Bineshtarigh extends his artistic explorations to the embedded power dynamics of language production and interaction. As the history of Arabic-Afrikaans emerges in Bineshtarigh artistic consciousness, he reimagines its form and develops new layers and meanings: adding to the language’s already nuanced palimpsest.
About the artist:
Kamyar Bineshtarigh was born in Semnan, Iran. He lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently in his final year, completing a BA Fine Art degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (UCT). He received a Diploma in Fine Art at Ruth Prowse School of Art in 2019 where he also won the Ruth Prowse Award for his body of work An Exhaustive Catalogue of Texts Dealing with the Orient which explored Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism using Said’s eponymous book (1978) as the source material.
In 2021, Bineshtarigh was awarded a Creative Knowledge Resources (CKR) Fellowship: CKR is an interdisciplinary project by the National Research Foundation & UCT studying socially engaged artistic practices in Africa and its diaspora. In the same year, Bineshtarigh has participated in a number of group exhibitions including My Whole Body Changed Into Something Else at Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town and Johannesburg) and Shaping Things at SMAC Gallery (Cape Town). Inspired by the freedom that comes with a DIY-spirit, between 2020 and 2021 Bineshtarigh curated his own independent solo show showcasing his body of work (Hafez) The Tongue of the Unseen Realms in an exhibition space in a factory warehouse in Salt River, Cape Town.
About the curator:
Amogelang Maledu is an art practitioner working between independent curating, research and sessional lecturing. She is currently an MA candidate in Historical Studies at Archive & Public Culture (APC) Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town (UCT) focusing on music and sonic Black popular cultural archives through an multidisciplinary curatorial lens. Maledu received an Honours Degree (First Class) in Curatorship from UCT and graduated with a BA Degree in Anthropology and Visual Culture Studies at the University of Pretoria. In 2021 Maledu project managed and co-curated the Institute for Creative Arts’(ICA) (Un) Infecting the City 2021 public arts festival.
Maledu is currently the research assistant for Creative Knowledge Resources – an interdisciplinary project funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and UCT which seeks to document and study socially engaged art and interventionism. She is also a committee member for UCT’s Works of Art Committee, responsible for the institution’s art acquisitions and curation. In 2020 Maledu co-curated the ICA’s Online Fellowship, the first digital-based Fellowship for the interdisciplinary institution.