The Nobel laureate JM Coetzee is a major figure in world literature. He is also the most translated, and most written about, of all writers in South Africa’s literary history. It is virtually impossible to over-state the extent of his influence and the activity his oeuvre has stimulated.
Honouring him in the year of his 80th birthday, this is the first major exhibition of papers and artefacts from the JM Coetzee archives at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at the University of Texas at Austin and Amazwi South African Museum of Literature in Makhanda. Two years in the planning, the exhibition is a joint effort involving Amazwi, the HRC, the University of York and SOAS at the University of London.
Scenes from the South graphically maps Coetzee’s current project: stimulating conversations and literary activations across the southern hemisphere – with a special focus on connections between South Africa, Australia and Argentina. This ‘south-south’ installation includes manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, photographs, sketchbooks, videos and other materials, which cartographically engages with Coetzee’s life and times.
A companion installation, Roads of France, by Prof. Rick Barney (State University of New York at Albany) and Easton, in collaboration with Coetzee, presents work-in-progress for an essay film (using Go-Pro, Leica and Lumix cameras) on Coetzee’s ‘poetics of cycling’.
A related exhibition, Photographs from Boyhood, features black and white photographs from Coetzee’s early forays into photography.
Prof. David Attwell University of York
Dr Kai Easton SOAS University of London