BY CARLA VISAGIE
After the final draft of the Visual Redress Policy was granted approval at the Stellenbosch University (SU) Council meeting last year, various changes to the visual landscape will continue to happen throughout the year.
According to the Visual Redress Policy draft the “[the visual changes] will assist SU in its drive for transformation in and through visual redress”.
“The Visual Redress Policy will guide visual changes on SU campuses specifically through new art installations, the removal or contextualisation of historically sensitive art and other symbols, campus signage, the naming and renaming of buildings, venues and other facilities and premises, improving accessibility to facilities, and so forth,” the policy reads.
According to a joint response to Die Matie from Dr Leslie van Rooi, chair of the VR committee Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation and prof Elmarie Constandius, senior lecturer at the Visual Arts department, “research shows that visual redress may provide a means to attend to underlying, unspoken and unconscious expressions of exclusion that remain in higher education institutions on South African campuses today”.
One of the new visual art installations will include a history lane artwork next to Wilgenhof on the corner of Victoria and Ryneveld street as, according to Van Rooi and Costandius, this location “connect the histories of the town on the one hand [and] with the university on the other hand”.
“The historical significance includes the slavery history, the link between the town and the battle of Andringa Street as well as the link between the historic Vlakte and the university. A full public participation process is foreseen in order for this initiative to be as inclusive and impactful as possible. Through the history lane, the history and current realities of campus (and town) will be depicted through the stories and diversity of people across the history of the town. As indicated in the budget, it is also the most expensive but impactful of the planned initiatives,” Van Rooi and Costandius told Die Matie.
The Rector’s Management Report to Council states that “supporting visual redress” falls under the “projects in support of strategic positioning”.
According to the Report “Supporting visual redress” along with “including building a value-driven culture, continued roll-out, monitoring and evaluation of our vision and strategy, developing an overarching brand positioning strategy, redeveloping the corporate website [and] strengthening public relations and communication” have a joint budget of R66,4 million.
According to Van Rooi and Costandius some of the buildings that will be named or renamed in 2020 include “the Wilcocks Building and residence dining halls (Huis Visser, Dagbreek, Simonsberg and Goldfields)”.
“This process [of naming and renaming] has as outcome engagement regarding the history behind names of buildings as well as their current relevance in such a way that it will allow the SU community to understand, engage with and remember the history behind building names and to, where necessary, apply for building names to be changed.”Other initiatives include remembrance scheduled for public participation this year with final implementation next year, include Die Vlakte walkway and garden.
The remembrance garden at the Ryneveld/Merriman intersection will highlight the history of Die Vlakte through an art installation as well as through boards and signs in the historic old community, showcasing pictures of the community over periods (starting in 1930).