The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Tabita Rezaire is a French-Guyanese and Danish artist, intersectional activist, tech-politics researcher and Kemetic yoga teacher based in Johannesburg. She holds a masters in artist moving image from Central Saint Martins College, London. Her works – online and offline – tackle colonialism and its effect on technology, sexuality, race, gender, the media and spirituality. Tabita is a co-founder of the tech health agency NTU; co-runs the art office Malaxa; and is part of the Afro-feminist collective Mwasi.
How would you describe your work as a visual artist?
Body, mind, spirit, earth, tech, symbiosis is what my practice aims for. Nurturing decolonial knowledge, my work – mostly through video – is about healing our bodies, our narratives and our technologies. I’m exploring power dynamics and how institutionalised oppressions affect our bodies, gender, sexualities, self-esteem, mental health, identities and energetic balance.
I’m exploring and asking: what is the role of technology within intersectional struggles? Does technology become another layer of oppression? Or can it contribute to the emancipation of marginalised identities… If yes. How? My work lies in that paradox and explores those contradictions. We need to be aware of our connected lives and link digital struggles to intersectional activism. This is a space we need to fight in, and for, because electronic colonialism is real and dangerous!
My work is about decolonising all forms of communication networks whether biological, spiritual and artificial for healing and political purposes.
My research in technology politics also includes the organic and spiritual realms, as my understanding of technology is not limited to web-cyborg-smart-life. A spell, plant remedies, ancestor communication or energetic works are also technologies for me, as it is about network systems that enable various forms of interventions.
I guess my work is about decolonising all forms of communication networks whether biological, spiritual and artificial for healing and political purposes.
You deal with gender, race and identity issues. Which African artists or movements do you find particularly inspiring at the moment?
The waves of decolonial love and power across the continent and the diaspora are so powerful! I’m surrounded by beautiful radical souls whether online or in real-life making incredible works to dismantle our white supremacist, patriarchal, homophobic capitalist world. It is so inspiring to witness that drive and be a part of it!
Our generation is not buying the post-colonial dream!
Although decolonial movements have been around since the beginning of the colonial era, I feel like there are new energies and strategies of active dissidence because our generation is not buying the post-colonial dream! We don’t want to be complicit. The current resistance is intersectional, inclusive of all marginalised and oppressed identities.
Healing is also at the heart of the struggle. Black, brown, queer, trans, those of different faiths and health are uniting against our oppressive cis-tem. This is beautiful and necessary because, without community, there is no liberation. There is hope (despite deep, institutionalised oppressions) and a desire for radical change and collectively organised solidarity systems are blossoming to support this!
Unlinking with western domination and exploitation is essential for our pride, health and self-care.
We need to collectively engage in decolonial activity, both as an ideology and practice in all area of our lives: in our relationships, diets, histories, consumption habits, fashions, sexualities… Unlinking with western domination and exploitation is essential for our pride, health and self-care. We need to reclaim it all! We owe that to our ancestors and all the generations to come.
Who is your African of the year?
My African? That feels quite patronising and fetishising! Whose work I’ve been really inspired and touched by this year? I would say Sangulani Maxwell Chikumbutso, a Zimbabwean inventor, whose story went viral last July after he released the work of his company SAITH Technologies. Receiving information from a higher power, he developed a free-energy device, which could potentially revolutionise the energy sector, if our capitalist economy was not so dependent on exploitative cash flow.
Governments and lobbies are preventing the industrialisation of free energy because the economy would collapse and who would benefit from available free energy besides the WHOLE WORLD?! NTU, a tech health agency I co-founded investigating technology from African spiritual philosophies, had the chance to collaborate with SAITH on a work exploring the relationship between spirituality and scientific research.
Divine inspiration, dreams and visions have by all times been part of scientific developments although western rationalist scientific history wants to tell us otherwise. NTU seeks to reclaim and celebrate those practices!
Follow Tabita on Twitter @browncorefly
Check out Tabita’s work at tabitarezaire.com
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica