The ‘Connective Narrative’ of Kay Hassan

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The ‘Connective Narrative’ of Kay Hassan

Kay Hassan is among the many artists who, in the wake of the apartheid oligarchy, had to find a new artistic impetus. The ‘struggle’ is perhaps not quite over; rather it has been redefined, and with it the landscape within which Hassan finds himself. His current work therefore represents the dialectical relationship between memory and amnesia, a relationship that, in the words of Okwui Enwezor, is perpetually ‘presiding over the remains of what apartheid had destroyed, which is to say, consciousness itself’. The stratified deposits that make up his work bemoan the colonial insistence upon one truth, one reality. The perpetual reinvention demanded by the changing geo-political sphere that is South Africa cries out the death of the sacrosanct author. But in an ironic twist, we find that Hassan’s appropriated genius affirms that the author lives. Like the peeling layers of graffiti and posters found in public spaces, Hassan’s billboard effaces itself in favour of disfiguration. It is undecided, escaping particular definition. The significant debris used to make this profound visual statement testifies to the hermeneutics of intertextuality that comprises this artwork. Here, textuality occurs where the text offcentres itself. In other words, the text is ex-centric. The mestizo nature of the technique employed by Hassan is amplified by the mass-media format. Hassan seems to synthesize meaning through a Derridian form of ‘double writing’ that prohibits a hegemonic or fixed description of identity. The found imagery (fragments of posters and pamphlets) employed by Hassan speak of a hybrid heredity that challenges the presumed ethnocentricity of much visual media. In this way, he is a dissonant voice within the public space of South Africa.

Dr Stella Viljoen

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