Kaspale is a character devised to intervene in spaces charged with colonial activities. As a playful trickster who engages in social critique and satire, Kaspale calls out authority when needed and speaks up when others can’t. Kaspale wears a Kaunda suit, a symbol of prestige and political resistance during the post-independence era, bearing also connotations of servitude in our contemporary times. Made from mosquito netting, which is both protective and permeable, the suit’s materiality evokes the ineffectual prevention of the colonizers’ penetration across the African continent. The character’s red finger paint, referencing ochre, generates the energy of power, traditionally used as UV and insect replant. The highlighted golden fingers, toes and mouth symbolize the speaker; holding the space for truth-telling.
The mask Kaspale wears references a historic Makonde mask in the MARKK Museum collection, which was created by an artist in colonial Tanzania to embody mindimu, the ancestors. It is usually worn during a dance that accompanies the reintegration of initiates into society after transformative seclusion. Designed to build character and to raise awareness of the individual’s position in the community, the initiation also serves for instruction in questions of a good sense of community and intensive commitment within the social organisation. The mask’s appearance marks the end of the journey of refinement and perfecting, of creating a mature, socially fully integrated person.
The vortex series connects to a deeper realm of the archive. No longer able to see the zoologists’ photographs, Kaspale’s intervention has led to a space of timelessness. Traveled through the archive and into the vortex, Kaspale exists in a realm not bound by time nor space, its here nor there, neither present nor past.