Unresolved pasts tend to return. In the aftermath of state-perpetrated injustice, a façade of peace can suddenly give way. In such circumstances, the voices and visions of artists can help us see what otherwise evades perception. Focusing on contemporary performance in post-apartheid South Africa, this lecture will explore how unresolved racialized histories of state-perpetrated violence create conditions of possibility and impossibility for performance artists, choreographers, and theater makers. Cole will be presenting from her recent book, Performance and the Afterlives of Injustice, which brings the most social of art forms—live performance—together with questions about how societies change in the wake of state perpetrated atrocities.
Catherine Cole is Divisional Dean of the Arts and Professor of Dance and English at the University of Washington, and is an internationally renowned scholar of African performance studies. As a scholar, teacher, and artist, she brings together themes of independence and interdependence, performance in Africa and in the diaspora, disability and movement, post-apartheid art, and postcolonial history. She is the author of Performance and the Afterlives of Injustice (2020), and choreographer and performer of dance theatre pieces, including Just Duet, Still Point, and Five Foot Feat. Cole’s Katz Distinguished Lecture will be on African arts and the afterlives of injustice.