Mabele Mabele Habatho responds to the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town as a site in transition and crisis. As with many national heritage sites, the Castle battles to locate itself outside of its own historical legacy. In attempts to reposition itself within a contemporary reality, and much like similar sites, it struggles to be vital or relevant to the various inhabitants of the City of Cape Town.
The work focuses on aspects of the practical realities of historical sites and museums: the daily routines of cleaning, maintenance and administration. These spaces are often seen as important to national heritage and culture, but are constrained by lack of funding which limits possibilities for developing and programming new content. Economic constraints and the current state of these museums lead to the accumulation of apologetic and unimaginative representations of our history. On the other hand, institutions such as the Apartheid Museum, Hector Peterson Museum and Robben Island Museum loom large in the public imagination with some of them having the added novelty and privilege of being new. The thinking around the construction and conceptual framework of these institutions affords them an opportunity to disentangle themselves from histories that are problematic and as such are often ignored or neglected. Often their materiality and loaded history disadvantages and discourages a re-engagement and reframing of sites such as the Castle.
Mabele Mabele Habatho was a collaboration with Humphrey Maleka and Brian Mtembu from Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre and was developed for the 2012 MTN New Contemporaries Award curated by Portia Malatjie.