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On Glowing Struggle

Monday 22 May 2023, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Abri de Swardt


“On Glowing Struggle”presents De Swardt’s artistic research towards new work engaging queer kinshipand ecologies of protest.

The talk explores the potentiality of intergenerational queer practice becoming interspecies by reviving historically disregarded non-human actors and practices of liberation within the South African Interregnum – the decolonising, anticipatory time frame between the pre-democratic unbanning of the Liberation Movements in 1990 and the formalisation of the post-apartheid Constitution in 1996.

By considering the ongoing implications of the GLOW-bird,a four-person puppet of a cattle egret in flight prominent during the inaugural Lesbian and Gay Pride Marches in Johannesburg,the significance of situated strategies beyond queer lexicons inherited from the Global North will be asserted. The GLOW-bird will be read as an ultra-archival vector through which the evacuation of meaning from local Pride can be retraced, as well as a hyper social force extending the scope of activism by offering trajectories for how political agency can be enacted without limiting sentience to human speech. Suchan expanse can address the current precariousness of queer rights as ecocide.


Abri de Swardt is an artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. De Swardt holds an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths,University of London, and is a graduate of the Market Photo Workshop and Stellenbosch University.

De Swardt’s work connects interrelated concerns between queerness, decoloniality and the more-than-human, to imagine forms of affiliation that are critical and reparative. He positions his work as an expanded form of collage which moves between photography, video, sound,sculpture, costume and performance. 

De Swardt’s work has been shown at venues including The Javett Art Centre, Pretoria; Rupert Museum, Stellenbosch; Hausder Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Forum des Images, Paris; the National Gallery ofArt, Vilnius; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; The Centre for theLess Good Idea, Johannesburg; and the KwaZulu Natal Society of the Arts,Durban. De Swardt has held solo exhibitions at POOL, Johannesburg (2018); MOT International Projects, London (2013); and blank projects, Cape Town (2011). Hehas completed residencies at Rupert, Vilnius, and Hordal and Kunstsenter,Bergen. De Swardt has taught at the universities of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes,and Stellenbosch.

In 2022 De Swardt was a Foam Paul Huf Award nominee and awarded the Social Impact Arts Prize.

Location: BS/204 Berrick Saul Building, University of York

Admission: Free, in person.