Un/Settled – is a project that explores white South Africans histories, privileges and reflections on identity. Every nation has its past and must confront it in order to see the present clearly and imagine a different future. I grew up just as apartheid came to an end. Ever since starting primary school, I have been told that I am a child of the“rainbow nation”. The end of apartheid was signalled by a great gesture of forgiveness and hope, one that must have seemed at the time to transcend the decades of violent oppression, the cities, families, farms and people torn to shreds in the name of a clapped-out nationalism so narrow in its thinking, that it saw nothing beyond shades of melanin. But there was no miracle of revelation among apartheid’s upholders – only a moment of political astuteness on the part of some political leaders.

Many white people seem to have taken the release of Mandela and platforms for redemption and healing like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as absolution. This was not absolution. Recently student and workers’ protests have made this narrative – already standing on shaky ground – impossible to accept.

We are all shaped by the cultural waters we swim in. The myth of Mandela’s “rainbow nation” is over. As South Africa struggles to come to terms with persistent social and racial inequality, the project seeks to urge participants and audiences to examine their historical and future roles within a landscape marked by deep social scars.

(text by Olivia Walton)