This essay was begun in the early eighties, in the heydays of apartheid and the ‘struggle’ against it. I found a deep need to explore my identity as a South African of mixed origins. I felt uncomfortable with the monica of ‘coloured’, or more exactly, ‘Cape Coloured’ bestowed upon me by the state even though neither I nor any members of my family within living memory were ever from the Cape, and needed to come to a new understanding of my origins and place in my country in light of my perspective as an adherent of Black Consciousness and a radical trade union and workerist perspective.
The project proceeded in fits and starts, and was actually dormant for a while until the mid-nineties when my daughter reported that her school mates were insisting she categorise her race. I realised then that this issue of catergorisation along so-called race was not going to disappear easily, and resumed work on the project in earnest.
I ‘used’ my large extended family as a palette to explore these issues and as a meditative process to mediate a new perspective, which is that though subjected to the molding influences of a separate existence and the inherent racism that informed it, I felt a strong need to be part of an undivided South Africa, free of racism, and with the right to self-define all aspects of my identity.
The project, which I had hoped to be published in book form, eventually manifested as an exhibition, and video documentary, which can be seen here: https://www.dunnsland.com/dunn/video/blood_relatives.html
I am still hopeful of publishing the work as a photobook, so watch this space!