The theatre that is Southern African history is stuck in a series of familiar narratives – the popular characters the world has grown to enjoy watching have remained on stage for encore after encore, whilst the rest of the cast in this epic remain behind drawn curtains. There they are lost to the long shadows of time.
My name is Fort Rixon and my work concerns the reconstruction of this past. Born in Southern Africa, I create art that connects with lost chapters of Southern African history into an alternative historical narrative – it is pure Africana.
Through the use of print making, drawing, painting and film I reimagine this story for a newer audience – young Southern Africans who are curious to know more of their history and a greater global audience who are yet to see the full picture. These stories challenge the very idea of what Southern Africa was, and ultimately the identity that it holds in the present day. By shifting the perspective that the world has of this place I seek to bring this history to a point of modern relevance.
Various mediums allow me the ability to speak in different languages. Stickers go up in the streets, record sleeves go into homes and films are enjoyed around the world from the ghettos to the suburbs. Research is based purely from historical account – journals, newspaper trimmings, films, radio interviews, music and rare books as well as oral account forms. I seek out the rarest, the ugliest and the darkest. I blow the dust off of these disparate pieces and breathe new life into stories by creating afro-pop history graphics – visually accessible to all people and faithful to the story they tell.
The unseen actors abound beyond measure. Characters such as Nongqawuse the young Xhosa prophetess whose single vision nearly destroyed the Xhosa nation. Others like Glenda Kemp – the first white Afrikaans stripper whose provocative dance routines became the thorn in the side of conservative white South Africa in the 70’s.
I seek to challenge the notion of the world’s focus towards afro-futurism as a great part of the zeitgeist of African creative expression. Whilst the afro-futurists consistently sprint forwards, I look into history to learn how to walk on a different path of learning in the pursuit of the radical stories of my past.
Currently based in London working between Europe and Africa.