2002/09/08 21:05 - 22:00 (GMT)
The archive at Robben Island Museum takes the form of songs and spoken narratives by 120 political prisoners who were imprisoned on Robben Island maximum security prison between 1963 and 1991.
The archive represents an attempt to map out the divergent and increasingly radicalised ideological positions within what is often taken to be a homogenous narrative of resistance. The dominant history of the island is thus expounded in often mythologised variations on the theme of a unified resistance to apartheid amongst the political prisoners on the island, often centred around the African National Congress Youth League leaders who were imprisoned after the Revonia treason trial in 1964 (Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Nelson Mandela, Goldberg, Motswaledi...). This has had the effect of suppressing other, often more militant, revolutionary positions amongst younger activist who were arrested and imprisoned on the island during the 70's and 80's, particularly after the rise of the Black Consciousness Movement in the early 70's and the intensification of the armed struggle following the brutal suppression of the 1976 student uprising in Soweto and the rest of the country.
The radio piece by Ashwell Adriaan is preceded by
by a live interview conducted by Thomas Mulcaire with the artist.
As it turned out, Ashwell Adriaan and Thomas Mulcaire, who joined Adriaan in the radio-studio decided against the original plan to do a live introductory interview followed by a special radio work "Cell Stories". Instead, the two artists extended their interview on Adriaan's "Prison Songs and Cell Stories" multimedia installation at Robben Island over the whole program and interspersed examples (songs and interviews) from the Robben Island archives. In other words this edition of Kunstradio did not - as usually - contain a radio work, but served as a means for the contextualisation of the prison songs and cellstories, which will - among many other live and recorded contributions - become material for the flow of the Long Night of Radio Art produced by Kunstradio on Sept 10th/11th. Inside this flow fragments of individual works will tend to lose their specific contexts in favour of a wider statement by and about the network of Radiotopia on air. This network consists of artists from many regions and backgrounds around the world and therefore will - in the form of radioart - touch on very different artistic (and implicitely also social-political) issues.