Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Image & Text]]> vol. num. 33 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Guest editorial for themed section <i>Black Panther </i>and Afrofuturism: theoretical discourse and review</b>]]> This article proposes that Black Panther, with its aesthetic and thematic emphasis on Afrofuturism, as well as its spectacular technical production, makes a unique contribution to cinematic history in several significant ways. In order to establish these noteworthy contributions, both the film and Afrofuturism are engaged with. This article is divided into three distinct parts. Part I provides a brief theoretical overview of Black Panther and Afrofuturism. Part II, a short review, follows. Co-authored by Mark Kirby-Hirst, the review contextualises and analyses the film within the bounds of Afrofuturism and twenty-first century art and film criticism, in an effort to argue for the relevance and import of such a unique and yet mainstream piece of cinema history; which, we conclude, is owing in no small part to the rise in popularity of decolonising tendencies in the humanities, in art, and in wider twenty-first century visual culture. The last section of this article, Part III, provides a brief synopsis of the contributing articles to this special themed section of Image & Text. <![CDATA[<b>A nation under our feet: <i>Black Panther, </i>Afrofuturism and the potential of thinking through political structures</b>]]> In this article, the focus is on Black Panther: a nation under our feet, a comic book series written by American public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates. The point of departure is Coates's idea of 'the Mecca', a term he uses in his earlier non-fiction. It refers to a space in which black culture is created in the shadow of collective traumas and memories. We argue that in a nation under our feet the fictional African country of Wakanda functions as a metaphorical Mecca. This version of Wakanda is contextualised in terms of the aesthetics of Afrofuturism and theories on the influence of ideology in comic books. The central focus of the article is how this representation of Wakanda questions the idea of a unified black people and how Wakanda, like the real world Meccas described by Coates, display internal ideological and political struggles among its people. We argue that the various characters in a nation under our feet represent different and conflicting ideological positions. These positions are metaphors for real world political views and in playing out the consequences of these ideologies, Coates explores African and global political structures without didactically providing conclusive answers to complex issues. <![CDATA[<b>Wakanda rising: <i>Black Panther </i>and commodity production in the Disney universe</b>]]> This article examines the superhero film Black Panther as a cultural commodity produced and distributed within an industrial capitalist system. The film has not only generated millions of dollars for the Disney Company, but has also stoked collective imaginations and energised the agency of audiences with its portrayal of the Afrofuturistic utopia, the kingdom of Wakanda, untouched by the ravages of colonialism and ruled by benevolent leaders endowed with superpowers. The film, is currently ranked first in terms of its lifetime gross revenues in the categories of comic book adaptation and superhero film and is the most successful of the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters' films so far. Black Panther's many firsts in the superhero genre reflect its non-financial feats: first to feature an almost entirely Black cast; first top-grossing film with an almost entirely Black cast; and biggest debut for an African American director (Disney 2018a). I demonstrate that while Black Panther showcases the work of African American filmmakers, storytellers and artists, and recognises Afrofuturism narratives, the film is also a commodity that sustains the system that produced it. Recognising and establishing the connections between commodity, cultural production and economics also offers a chance to identify opportunities for counter-hegemonies and challenges to the systemic erasure of Afro-histories. <![CDATA[<b>The future of the past: imagi(ni)ng black womanhood, Africana womanism and Afrofuturism in <i>Black Panther</i></b>]]> Since its release, Black Panther (Coogler 2018) has proven to be a phenomenal black cultural text on so many levels. The film has revitalised discourses on Afrofuturism, owing to the fact that the black themes it raises reconfigure representations of black lives and history that have mainly been steeped in normative western categorisations. Black Panther) has also proven to be phenomenal in its representation of black womanhood which, I would like to argue, engenders intimate convergences with the film's Afrofuturistic thrust. In other words, Black Panther's Afrofuturistic re-imagi(ni)ng of black womanhood is Africana womanist-centric. Black women from Africa and the African diaspora are presented as an imagined community - they have a shared history of imperial and patriarchal domination among other forms of othering. Their representation is a return to the source of sorts which recalls African women warriors who have been celebrated in the African past but seem to have lost the significance of their prowess over time but still have prospects in a re-invented Africa. Thus, in this paper I seek to make a theoretical case for Africana womanism in the Afrofuturistic context presented by Black Panther. <![CDATA[<b>Do not make Africa an object of exploitation again</b>]]> This article aims to present the audience reception of Black Panther by an Afro-Brazilian public. It raises questions about the autonomous appropriation of the film's messages by an Afro-Brazilian diasporic community. It also questions the construction of a black identity, present and future, linked to an apparent rediscovery of the African continent by the global cultural industry. The theoretical framework is Afrofuturism. The methodology is audience reception studies as well as thematic content analysis. <![CDATA[<b>You act like a th'owed away child: <i>Black Panther, </i>Killmonger, and Pan-Africanist African-American identity</b>]]> This article proposes to theorise the role of reception and the ways in which it interacts with the sensibilities of a type of Pan-Africanist African-American identity. The romanticising of African feudalism (even the "special" feudalism of Wakanda) is highly problematic. Likewise, the celebration of kings and the reification of things like "traditional courts". The graphic novel of the same name problematises the celebratory mood of the film by highlighting social fissures in Wakanda. In the same ways that notions of royalty and (neo)traditionalism in the real world can be grindingly unfair to working masses and particularly to women, the film Black Panther runs the danger of making such issues invisible. The interaction with and reception of the film, however, by black people around the world adds to the meaning and fact of this film and has elevated the screenings to a cultural event. As such, these various screenings add to the text of the film, shaping the Afrofuturist resonance of this text. Ostensibly, Black Panther is a super hero film centred on romanticised fictional Pan-African nation and culture. However, it is also an allegory about the place of Africans in the Diaspora in the postcolonial liberation of Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Afrofuturism and decolonisation</b>: <b>using <i>Black Panther </i>as methodology</b>]]> The terms Afrofuturism and decolonisation may both occupy prominent positions in the contemporary moment but they are not often projected into the same conceptual space. While the task of decolonising the curricula at South Africa's tertiary institutions looms large in the contemporary moment, for the particular disciplines of art history and visual studies, the task of creating new curricula has often taken on a temporal valence as there is a certain anxiety about making references to historical African culture in the present. Afrofuturism, however, seeks to create fissures in the present moment by using references the past to envision futures that counter a negative historical imaginary. Following an analysis of the art historical curricula at tertiary institutions in South Africa, this paper seeks to discuss the notion of both Afrofuturism and decolonisation as temporal dislocations and discursive disruptions. By looking at the film Black Panther and its numerous references to historical African art and visual culture this paper proposes that the concept of Afrofuturism may provide a method for the study of contemporary art forms through the lens of the historical and as such a potential approach to discursive decolonisation. <![CDATA[<b>Advice on the use of gestures in presentation skills manuals: alignment between theory, research and instruction</b>]]> There appears to be a weak alignment between manuals on using hand gestures in oral presentations, theoretical sources on gesture production, and empirical studies on dimensions of gesture processing and use. Much of the advice in presentation skills manuals centre on prohibitions regarding undesirable postures and gestures. Furthermore, these sources tend to focus on the intentions, feelings and mental states of the speakers as well as the psychological effect of gestures on the audience. Theoretical sources, on the other hand, typically emphasise the relationship between speech and gestures, and the mental processing of the latter, especially representational gestures. Quasi-experimental empirical research studies, in turn, favour the description and analysis of iconic and metaphorical gestures, often with specific reference to gesturing in the retelling of cartoon narratives. The purpose of this article is to identify main areas of misalignment between practical, theoretical and empirical sources, and provide pointers on how the advice literature could align guidelines on gesture use with theory and research. First, I provide an overview of pertinent gesture theories, followed by a discussion of partially canonised typologies that describe gestures in relation to semiotic gesture types, handedness (left, right or both hands), salient hand shapes and palm orientation, movement, and position in gesture space. Subsequently, I share the results of a qualitative analysis of the advice on gesture use in 17 manuals on presentation skills. I then report on an analysis of the co-speech gestures in a corpus of 17 video-recorded audio-visual presentations by students of Theology. The article is concluded by proposing an outline for advice on gestures that is based on a considered integration of traditional advice in guide books and websites, theory, and empirical research. <![CDATA[<b>Human-Nature-Technology interfaces within the <i>Avatar </i>cinema-scape</b>]]> Traditional relational models prefer Humanity as colonising the eco- and technolandscapes, distinguishing Humanity as Self, and Nature and Technology as Other. However, this essentialist view is challenged through regarding them as an open network of collaborative potential. Posthumanist works, such as Donna Haraway's 'A Cyborg Manifesto', have promoted this potential, and popular filmmakers such as James Cameron have followed suit in integrating posthumanist philosophy into their work. Cameron's hypothesis regarding the potential of Human-Nature-Technology interfacing is offered in his film, Avatar (Cameron 2009). Where Cameron's previous films tend towards an essentialist view of the feminine being more connected with Nature and Humanity, and the masculine with Technology, in Avatar, he is conflicted. He wants to promote bio-conservatorship through perpetual Human-Nature-Technology interfacing, but also wants to honour a common storytelling imperative to favour a single, masculine protagonist as saviour and relegating the feminine, Nature and Technology as serving a masculine agenda. Though Cameron does, upon closer scrutiny, present a masculine protagonist that does not subscribe to Self-Other, active-passive binaries, he does default towards an essentialist stance in resolving his story. However, the film does act as a catalyst for debate between essentialist and posthumanist views, where Cameron offers Humanity, Nature and Technology as symbiotic potentials alongside antonymous absolutes. <![CDATA[<b>Sonic fingerprints: on the situated use of voice in performative interventions by Donna Kukama, Lerato Shadi and Mbali Khoza</b>]]> This article focuses on sonic elements in performative interventions by three South African artists: Donna Kukama's, Chapter F: The Free School for Art and All Fings Necessary (Until Fees fall) (2016), Lerato Shadi's Matsogo (2013) and Mbali Khoza's What difference does it make who is speaking? (2014). By observing the details of each artist's use of voice and its 'situatedness' (Goniwe; Mohoto-wa Thaluki), I have positioned the works within the discipline of sound studies. Beyond the sites chosen for the interventions, their 'situatedness' refers to the cultural aspects informing them, including language specificity and the diachronical re-actualitsations of struggle-songs, traditional tales and newspaper journalism. The locations are a hole or negative space in the pavement on Johannesburg's Beyers Naudé Square, a discarded newspaper page showing the foreign index, and Makhanda Eastern Star Museum. I refer here to sound, time and matter as 'fingerprint' (Cassin; Dolar), arguing for each one's right to be heard according to his/her personal means of expression, and that 'accentedness' (Coetzee) and situatedness should not lead to the assumption of the existence of an impenetrable 'epistemic barrier' (Maharaj). The triad combining use of language (individuated speech), bodily voice, and the time-factor involved allows for a sonic fingerprint to evolve. <![CDATA[<b>Under Priscilla's eyes: state violence against South Africa's queer community during and after apartheid</b>]]> Using South African performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga's ...the Naïveté of Beiruth (2008) photographic series as its genesis, this article employs critical approaches to semiotics and textual analysis to examine the history of police brutality in South Africa with a focus on the experiences of the queer community both under apartheid and after the transition to democracy - a history that repeatedly doubles back to the former-South African Police Force headquarters: John Vorster Square/Johannesburg Central Police Station. For queer subjects, South Africa's transition to democracy in 1994 brought with it many significant de jure changes to the daily lived reality of life in South Africa. However, misconduct and violence at the hands of the police - referred to as 'Priscilla' in the gay South African argot, Gayle - continues under democracy albeit of a divergent nature. Through Ruga's radical aesthetic and disruptive artistic intervention with the Johannesburg Central Police Station - a site which has deeply penetrated South Africa's cultural imaginary - this paper examines state violence against those who are identified as queer to expose the limits of the Rainbow Nation project, question the transformation of the South African police, and serve as an unsettling reminder of the complex and often dangerous societal position of women and queer subjects in South Africa. Significantly, while predominantly phenomenological in nature, this article to also partly auto-ethnographic as I draw from my own experience as a queer subject born in apartheid-era Johannesburg and living in democratic South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Repetitions repeatedly repeated: mimetic desire, <i>ressentiment, </i>and mimetic crisis in Julian Rosefeld's <i>Manifesto </i>(2015)</b>]]> This paper offers an exploration of Julian Rosefeld's film Manifesto (2015), which is a fascinating amalgamation and interpretation of modernist, avant gardist manifestos. The paper employs the film itself as a hermeneutical framework, especially is use of the rhetorical-hermeneutical device of repetition, and also makes use of René Girard's mimetic theory. Through this double-hermeneutic, two aims are set out: the first being to offer a way to rethink the meaning of the art manifesto as that modernist genre par excellence and the second being a way to rethink trends in artistic and creative production in general. <![CDATA[<b>Persistence of the past and the here-and-now of the Union Buildings</b>]]> In their presence and continued use as seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria reveal the persistence of the past in a prime space of power and official commemoration in South Africa. The paper focuses on the retention of these segregation-era buildings as the "top" site of government in the context of Tshwane, or Pretoria, in the democratic era from 1994. The paper traces events and actions through several periods since the Buildings were conceived in 1909, to and beyond the inauguration of President Mandela at the site. Some alternative views on continued use of the buildings are explored. The argument of the paper is that urban collective memory in which monuments such as the Union Buildings stand, is constantly remade, and the meanings ascribed to the images evoked by such an edifice shift into sometimes radically different directions from those held in earlier periods.