Carla Kruger’s masters exhibition is influenced by South Africa’s turbulent past, and especially the relationship between master and slave at the Cape in the 1650’s as a model for many cultural dynamics and relationships at the Cape after that. She investigates what Homi Bhabha calls the ‘hybrid’ effect of colonialism and slavery on the culture and identity of a colony:
If the effect of colonial power is seen to be the production of hybridization rather than the noisy command of colonialist authority or the silent repression of native traditions, then an important change of perspective occurs. It reveals the ambivalence at the source of traditional discourses on authority and enables a form of subversion, founded on that uncertainty, that turns the discursive conditions of dominance into the grounds of intervention. (Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin 1995: 35)
Carla aims to create pieces of contemporary art jewellery that invokes critique and investigation into this hybrid effect and subversion of authority that Bhabha explains in the quote above. She creates a juxtaposition of the signs she claims symbolises the relationship of power and oppression at the Cape - the collar and the cuff. The white collars and ruffs the Europeans used to wear to signify power at the Cape, and the shackles and restraints the slaves were subjected to in order to reiterate their state of bondage are used as visual aesthetic narratives in Carla’s work to create an amalgamation of domination/submission. This amalgamation is created in order to offer a platform to contest the power and oppression dynamic at the Cape, and on a larger scale − South Africa.
A look at the histories that shape South Africa, through the way in which considerations of materials and traditional functions of jewellery interact with conceptual thesis, with the telling of stories along with the perceptible possibilities of adornment. My concept revolves around recognizing the complexities underlying the often simplistic interpretations of history that we receive as undisputed fact. By utilizing the divergent aesthetics of both the Dutch and the Khoekhoen cultures, I aim to demonstrate both sides of the story. Our country is one with many lines of history that converge on several occasions with tragic consequences. Many of these lines of histories have remained untold. Is a multidimensional and multicultural telling of history possible? Can these histories be collectively uncovered to discover the true heritage of the people who now occupy its borders?