Angela de Jesus – South Africa

In exchange (installation detail : video stills)

About Angela de Jesus

I am interested in the complexities associated with urbanity, cross-cultural interaction and exchange, spectatorship and representation.

In previous research I have investigated intercultural relationships and interactions in my family’s small take away shop, situated on the periphery of Bloemfontein’s central business district and its neighboring townships. This space served as a microcosm of a particular community, a place with a constant routine, a unique etiquette, intercultural encounters and interchange, but also one of paranoia, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, guilt and suspicion. One moment the environment was benign and friendly, the next tempers were flaring and racial slurs were being hurled.

Economic exchange in the small environment of the shop occurs concomitantly with the exchange of vision and cross-cultural perception. The exchange of money for goods is part of a multisensory exchange affected by assumptions and ideas of one another that have been modelled in socio- historical context.

Rear window

These include among others, colonial and postcolonial notions, stereotypes, ideas about racial and cultural segregation, social and political conditions as well as illustrations and representations of each other. By collecting and appropriating surveillance footage from CCTV cameras installed in the shop and recording my own videos with hidden digital hand-held video camcorders around this space, I could draw attention to these complexities as well as play with critical associations related to the presentation and perceptions of Africa.

Exchange that occurs in the shop is entrenched by long tradition of intercultural trade which began with the Portuguese explorers of the fifteen-century who bartered with the indigenous people of the Cape. These interactions have played their part in developing cultural and racial notions in our society today and have impressed themselves on ideas and images of what signifies ‘Africa’ as well as ‘Europe’. The research has also helped me examine my position, as a young second generation Portuguese woman and visual artist, living and working in this environment; a position that is coupled with its own generalizations, assumptions and stereotypes.

By attending the residency I will be able to investigate intercultural exchange further. It will be a fantastic opportunity to explore these issues in an alternative site and from outside of Africa, perhaps a concentrated public space that is concerned with trade (e.g. street trade) or in the residency itself. I would be very interested in pin pointing a specific pivotal place and I would like to interact with the local communities by capturing footage within these communities. It would be interesting to create a dialogue between the research I’ve done and the residency. I would also like to get to broaden my understanding of video medium and video installations.