The idea for this research project was prompted by a mildly comical musing on how we might imagine a ‘library of laughter’ as well as by questions around the siloing of national memory into archives that are concerned primarily with material preservation rather than fostering the continued life of cultural heritage. The project proposes tracking the evolution of the sitcom from its focus on the lives of Black working-class characters in the mid-1980s to a post-1994 emphasis on a common national identity intended to unite different groups forced to live together within the new South Africa. The sitcom operates as a significant medium through which particular national narratives and myths are created, dismantled and (mis)remembered, but simultaneously condenses the national hopes and anxieties at multiple political crossroads in South Africa’s history.
Nare Mokgotho is an interdisciplinary artist from South Africa. He is one half of the artist collaborative MADEYOULOOK.