The Last Supper Revisited

January 12-27, 2002

The Last Supper Revisited tells the story of the destruction of District Six, a community in Cape Town, South Africa. From its inception in the 19th century, District Six was a multiracial community. Slated for demolition in accordance with apartheid legislation that forbade people of different races from living together, the District was razed in the 1970s and 1980s to create a "white area." This program of eviction and destruction affected the lives of more than 65,000 people, mostly of mixed race, Indian, and African descent.

The artist invites us to share the last supper during the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr with the Ebrahim family, one of the last families to have their house leveled by bulldozers.

Three back-lit boxes suggest windows through which we glimpse scenes of family life on this bittersweet occasion. We hear the distant sounds of the local muzzein calling the faithful to prayer, the insidious and ubiquitous drone of the bulldozers and the local residents' eyewitness accounts of the destruction of their homes. A subtle sense of incense envelops us and welcomes us into the Ebrahim home.

The artist has set the table for this intimate feast with multiple resin blocks containing scraps of precious and mundane objects culled from the bulldozed site to document this doomed community. The encased remnants of a vibrant community life in the District are treated as witnesses to and survivors of the racist apartheid system. The installation as a whole highlights the power of art to embody social action, shared memory and forgotten histories.

Sue Williamson initially visited the site of the Ebrahim's razed house in 1981 and created an installation work, The Last Supper, from large bits of rubble (windows, doors, books and the like). Twelve years later she returned to the original site only to find little had changed. For The Last Supper Revisited the artist was able to collect new, smaller bits of detritus to encase and display. This piece was first exhibited in 1993 at the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town.

Support for this exhibition provided by the W.K.Kellogg Foundation.


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