Dithugula tša Malefokana: Seeing other people's stories,
telling tall tales, a photographic
Dithugula is a Khelobedu term that refers to a sacred shrine, object or thing related to the ancestors. Appeasing the ancestors by paying homage to a thugula is considered to bring about happiness and health.
Mahashe’s photographic installation visually explores the process of appeasing a photographic archive made between 1930 and 1940 in Bolobedu. It was produced by anthropologists Jack and Eileen Krige in collaboration with Balobedu, who named them Maŝhohla lefoka and Malefokana. The names bring to mind the notion of the trickster – creatively disrupting information and traversing boundaries.
Mahashe’s installation visually interprets the overlapping aspects of imagining and researching an archived collection of ethnographic and historical photographs while being a curator and artist interested in the aesthetics presented by the materiality of the photograph. It explores the metaphor of the darkroom as a space of vision (that renders things visible) and the limits of the photograph as a reliable permanent record, drawing on similarities between the magic of photography and the myth/legends surrounding Modjadji’s fame. Mostly, Mahashe aims to conjure tall tales while discovering photography’s infinite possibilities, concluding that only stories survive the archive, stories told by imaginative storytellers, told to a keen audience.