‘Attached to the Soil’ Exhibition at DUT
Professor Peter Glendinning, who is a Fulbright Scholar and professor in Art, Art History, and Design, at the Michigan State University in the USA, visited the Durban University of Technology (DUT) this week for the ‘Attached to The Soil’ photographic exhibition.
Attached to The Soil, is a creative collaboration between several South African universities and Professor Glendinning that begun in 2019, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary year of President Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.
In his first words to the people of South Africa on his inauguration in 1994,Mandela said: “To my compatriots. I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the Bushveld. Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal.”
According to Prof. Glendinning, DUT students made a significant contribution to the project, in the way in which that they told the stories of South Africans.
“Without the projects done by the students of this institution this whole thing would have been severely diminished, not just in numbers but in the variety of people and the variety of expressions that were shared. Each one of the people you see portrayed here in a photograph, each one of the aspirational metaphors, that you notice are all soil related, and each one of the stories is not singularly about this person alone or this young person alone, they’re about so many others in this country and beyond who are like them,” said Professor Glendinning.
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design, Professor Runette Kruger, said that she hoped that this project would inspire more projects at DUT, that will contribute to making the institution a centre of history knowledge production.
“I want DUT to really establish to explore all of us collectively, staff and students, our history as an institution as part of for instance the liberation struggle because it is there. To build up an archive of our contribution historically. My idea behind that is to create an awareness of the fact that we are all agents of our history. I want students to graduate here knowing that they are agents of history, in other words what you do and what you don’t do shapes history, sometimes in quite dramatic ways. That kind of awareness of where we are and that critical engagement of where we came from and where we are going is very valuable. I want us to become a centre of that knowledge production, and this kind of project is very essential to that kind of engagement,” said Professor Kruger.
DUT student, Blessing Xaba, who’s work was exhibited in the project said that this project was a special way of giving a different lens to the viewer, one that they may not have had, if the story had been told by someone else or if they were there as a witness.
“When you find little pieces of what has just happened in a space, you find that the space itself starts to tell you a story that the humans wouldn’t have and your presence wouldn’t have collected. So, when Prof. entered our academic journey with a project that was going to allow us to travel to particular space to tell stories that have either taken place there or are unfolding in the moment I was very happy,” said Xaba.