The development of Cape Town from early colonial times to the modern apartheid city was founded on the forced labour economy of slavery. For some of the descendants of slaves and the impoverished majority who have survived the Apartheid era forced removals and continue to live the daily realities of racialized violence, systemic inequality and structural impoverishment, rife with the injustices of early colonial and more recent apartheid history, the current threat of eviction by faceless ‘market forces’ is to witness the further severing of historical links, claims and ties to the city centre in post Apartheid Cape Town where redevelopment projects in the CBD and its immediate surrounds – in particular Bo-kaap, Woodstock and Salt River – represent a coming together of international and local investment as development capital, a growing global tourism industry and the ‘creative economy’ for the benefit of international tourists and local elites.
By splitting off the lived legacies of slavery from the current time and consigning it to a mythical time out-of-time, to a once-upon-a-time, we disaggregate the psychosocial impact of its experiences and its traumatic re-experiences through apartheid era forced removals from the urban topography of the city. Heritage has become an institution serving the interests of business and development for profit, over the interests of the ordinary people who were removed to the Cape Flats and who have no possibility to return or reclaim their place in and around the city centre.
SOLD! is a series of slave posters created to establish a link and make visible the disavowed experiences of the living and the accumulated history, with present day processes of erasure that underwrite these disavowals. Simulating slave era poster design – its fonts, images and grammar – with contemporary logos of developers, and businesses who benefit from and drive gentrification and commodification, this series will endeavour to highlight the historical relationship of injustice between the creation of the ghettos and townships of the Cape Flats and the human cost of the construction of the modern white city which has been re-branded within the neo-liberal democracy as a place of plenty available to the already privileged few and is thus disconnected from social and political change as well as the necessity of restitution and social justice.