New Media

  • Amanxiwa | Embodied Archives
    Russel Hlongwane & Sumayya Vally

Illustration of a complete set of divining bones from “Bantu Studies,” by K.M. Watt and N.J.V. Warmelo. Courtesy Welcome Collection, London. Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0),

“Amanxiwa" is the word used for ruins when translating from isiZulu to English. In its etymology, however, are the words for memory and community, and at its core, it alludes to shared histories related to places of home, family and community; regardless of the current state of the site it refers to. The project is an exploration into several sites of erased, silenced, or invisible histories and memory on the African continent and constructs speculative histories through several dynamic methodologies—those of sacristy/sacrality; shrines; ritual practice; performance, using sound: the oral, the aural, and other forms of African remembering, as a counterpoint to static Western museological methods; to contribute to and render visible archives of these archaeological sites, rites and practices—and the constructions and continuities of belonging, place, and identity associated to them.

Russel Hlongwane is a cultural producer based in Durban, South Africa. His work obsesses over tensions in heritage/modernity and culture/tradition as it applies to Black life. His said practice includes cultural research, creative producing, design, and curatorship. He is part of a number of working groups spread across the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) region, the continent and internationally. He has shown work in Munich, Marrakech, Nantes, Maputo, Karlsruhe, Harare, Bristol, and Tokyo, as well as throughout South Africa.

Sumayya Vally is the founder and principal of Counterspace. Her design, research, and pedagogy searches for expression for hybrid identities and contested territories. She is in love with Johannesburg. It serves as her laboratory for finding speculative histories, futures, archaeologies, and design languages; with the intent to reveal the invisible. Her work is forensic, and draws on performance, the supernatural, the wayward and the overlooked as generative places of history and work. Vally was recently a runner-up for the Civatelli Ranieri artist residency prize, and a finalist for the Rolex Mentorship and Protege Initiative to be mentored by Sir David Adjaye. After leading Unit 12 at the Graduate School of Architecture, first alongside Professor Lesley Lokko, then by herself, she now runs a roving research unit at the school. She is based between Johannesburg and London as the lead architect for the Serpentine Pavilion 2020 plus 1 (to be exhibited in 2021).