video still of *!Habesi*


Indigene Corefio |Huuke Harris (ZA), /Xam Sam Fortuin (ZA), Xopher Wallace (ZA), Dr Diana Ferrus (ZA), Sthando Masuku (ZA), Elder Nkosenathi Koela (ZA)

“This multidisciplinary exhibition of fine art, poetry, photography, sound and augmented reality returns life to the Khoe/Khoi/San indigenous communities of South Africa on whom multiple genocides and epistemicides were inflicted. Through the “alchemy of art” and encounters with legends and activists, it gives an “ancient-future” to a community with deep !Habesi (roots) in nature but dispossessed of their lands from 1657 onward and categorized as “coloured” in a further erasure of their cultures, traditions, peoples and languages — to remake a world on the brink of extinction.”

Jury Statement

!Habesi, the name of our project, is the word for “roots” in N|uu, a Khoe language. We chose to name our work !Habesi because roots refer to land, to a source, culture, ancestry, family, stability and places of belonging—all themes that our work creatively explores. 

The 1913 cut-off date of the Land Rights Act in South Africa prevents the |Xam/Khoe people from claiming the land they had been dispossessed of in the 1600s. !Habesi seeks to highlight indigenous land rights. 

We spent a week in communion in the Kalahari Desert in order to interview Queen Dr. Katrina Esau about what she envisions the future of her community may have been without colonial interruption or the erasure of Apartheid. We then interpreted her narrative into painting, music, poetry and augmented reality. This sound journey explores the medium of archiving ancient consciousness. 

The audience sees ten photographs (two of which have AR layers) and one portrait of Ouma Katrina (with AR layer). 

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Indigene is the founding Director of |Kx’am, a non-profit company aimed at promoting primarily |Xam knowledge systems with the use of new media. They are an internationally published performance poet, healer, priestess and custodian of indigenous consciousness. 

Sam Fortuin is an interdisciplinary fine artist. 

Xopher Wallace is an AR visual artist.

Sthando Masuku is a videographer.

Nkosenathi Koela is an indigenous instrumentalist and healer.

Dr Diana Ferrus is a poet, writer and storyteller.

Production: |Kx’am
Sound production: Indigenous Frequency Cast
Composer: Queen Katrina
Indigenous instrumentalist: Mntana WeXwele
Poet: Dr Diana Ferrus
Poet: Indigene Corefio|Huuke Harris
Researcher: Hamid Ntetha
Fine artist: /Xam Sam Fortuin
Videographer: Sthando Masuku
AR visual artist: Xopher Wallace
Costume: Gift Kgosi (No Modern Slave)
Grace: Tsui Goab (God)
Medicine: Our Divine Ancestors