Brydon Bolton and Emile Maurice

Journey to Robben Island (Sound installation, Size variable)

Journey to Robben Island (Sound installation, Size variable)

Artist's Statement

From the 17th century until the release of political prisoners in 1991, Robben Island was used as a place of imprisonment and a dumping ground for society’s unwanted – drunkards, convicts, mutineers, lepers, the mentally ill, rebellious slaves, common criminals, spiritual and political leaders from the East, African and Khoi anticolonial leaders and anti-apartheid activists. These include some of the most significant individuals in South African history. All, accompanied by their wardens or jailors, made the seven-mile journey from the mainland, at Cape Town, to the island, leaving intangible traces of their passages to abandonment and/or incarceration. These intangible traces also mark the routes taken by those who attempted to escape from the island. The witnesses to these journeys across the sea were the sea creatures of the Cape, such as seals and seagulls. It is the mournful, painful and anguished sounds of these creatures that are heard on Journey to Robben Island.

Today, South Africa’s history of trauma, conflict and resistance has become a business, marketed to tourists and other interested parties. Consequently, the sound component of the work is presented in conjunction with an official Robben Island commodity object – a tourist memento relating to the stone quarry on the island, where prisoners were forced to work.

Artist's Biography

Brydon Bolton: Born: Johannesburg, 1973. Lives and works in Cape Town. Major exhibitions: South African National Gallery and Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.

Emile Maurice:
Born: Cape Town, 1955. Lives and works in Cape Town. Received his BA(FA) in 1976 and his Advanced Diploma in Fine Art in 1977 from the University of Cape Town, and his MA in Art History from Syracuse University, New York in 1981. Major exhibitions: Botswana Arts Festival, Gaborone, Botswana.