Framing (in brackets)
“…I have not appropriated any of the images of the uprising, but have sought instead to frame a parallel sequel. Only the immediate family of those shot were allowed to attend the funerals, and all requests for mass burials were turned down. It is in this sense that this work is a sequel.”
“I feel that this police action is condoned by the silence of artists both in S. Africa and elsewhere.”
Gavin Younge's original exhibit (in brackets) was shown in 1977 at the exhibition space at La Mamelle, a San Francisco, California non-profit arts organization that ran from 1975 through 1995. La Mamelle supported live art, video and electronic media art, exhibitions, and a bookstore. In 1980, La Mamelle renamed their organization Art Com.
Stanford Libraries first acquired the records of Art Com in 1997. They are held in the Department of Special Collections and the first shipment contained over 300 linear feet of materials packed into cartons and oversize boxes. Three other addenda arrived between 2006 and 2015, acquired by Peter Blank, former head of the Art Library; one of these contained computer media - predominantly floppy disks. The last addenda we received occurred during the creation of this exhibit site, when the artist Gavin Younge, sent us a digital file of the exhibit poster.
Educator, artist, and author Gavin Younge created an exhibit dedicated to the 92 individuals murdered by the police in Cape Town at the time of the Soweto Uprising in Johannesburg. The age range of those killed were between 11 and 45; most of them were 25 and younger.
The basis of the exhibit, which he called (in brackets), revolved around 92 individual slates. Each slate represented one of these persons and included their name and age and the date and method they were murdered in chalk. Both the substrate and medium were fragile and ephemeral which led to our preservation decision to digitize all the slates and documentation about this work. This new online exhibit site and our work to preserve the names of the murdered individuals through Wikidata entries is the latest iteration on this preservation continuum.
Gavin Younge's statement regarding his work (in brackets)
Cape Town is often overlooked when one thinks of the South African student uprising of June 16, 1976, as the locus of the movement was widely documented to be Soweto, near Johannesburg. However, that uprising inspired similar movements in the Western Cape, with all communities of color on Africa’s southern tip mobilizing in solidarity with their inland counterparts. The uprising and murders in Cape Town occurred from August 11th through September 16th. Ninety two individuals were murdered by the riot police, most of them under 26 years old.
Gavin's letters to Carl Loeffler, head of La Mamelle in San Francisco, detail the conception of his work and touch on topics that are very relevant for current events especially Black Lives Matter movement and the discussions about systemic racism in the United States.
This exhibit was created 45 years ago, long before social media. Individuals are represented by small slates, described ephemerally in chalk. Undertaking to preserve this work has involved many staff across the library - for more on this effort, see Preserving (in brackets). A related project we undertook was to create Wikidata entries for each person who was killed as well as for the artist, Gavin Younge, see Wikidata description.
“… it is also important for other capitalist countries to be made aware of the blatant oppression so necessary to the maintenance of the capitalist system. For this reason alone I have sought to show this work abroad.”
For more information on our holdings for the Art Com records, visit the catalog record (https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/4084484). There is a recent article by Darlene Tong in Common Field, "LA MAMELLE / ART COM ARCHIVES," that is very informative about their early days and the transfer of the archive.