Hauntology of Smoke and Ochre

consists of several works, a performance and a book. Throughout the project the complex and intriguing life and work of South African writer and poet Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965) plays an essential role. Jonker became politically engaged in the fifties when she vehemently opposed a law imposing censorship on publications and entertainment. Her work was published in Drum, a clandestine ‘black’ magazine, and in 1963 she won South Africa’s most prestigious literature prize with Rook en Oker (Smoke and Ochre). After her suicide in 1965 Jonker‘s work got forgotten, but after the fall the Apartheid-regime Jonker became a public figure of mythical proportions. I am not interested in the “real” Jonker, if such a person even exists; instead I focused on the creation of Jonker’s social biography, exploring history and character as something constructed rather than given. Jonker’s texts and her mediated identities are assumed, transformed into symbols then imbued with various meanings by interested parties. Actresses, biographers, admirers, detractors, politicians piece together Jonker’s story, growing it into something ghost- like – unfixed yet omnipresent.

The title Hauntology of Smoke and Ochre was made up by the South African artist Aryan Kaganof.