Bowed Electrons 2018 Conference Festival

  • William Fourie (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Hearth Songs in the Amnesic Times: Forgetting in Theo Herbst’s Konka Klanke (Tunguska)

For many of us, the 2010 FIFA World Cup remains in memory as a time of unprecedented social cohesion. Feelings of unity abound, a sense of collective pride in what our nation had achieved since the advent of democracy was palpable. Indeed, amid the blaring vuvuzelas, the scars of apartheid were not easily detectable. Yet if these scars were not easily detectable, it was not because they had faded. Rather, it would seem that our troubled history was rendered inaccessible to the work of recollection. Put differently, our troubled past was pathologically forgotten.

It is against this backdrop that Theo Herbst composed Konka Klanke (Tunguska) for tape and piano, which was premiered on 28 March 2010 at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Music. Based on two poems by Ingrid Jonker, the work unfolds as an intricate comment on memory. Yet it does so in a seemingly counterintuitive (even, contradictory) way. In this paper, I argue that the work, rather than addressing memory as a product of remembering or recalling, figures memory as the product of forgetting; it suggests that memory is made possible by forgetting. In this sense, the work brings to light a form of forgetting fundamentally different to the amnesia present in the World Cup discourse. In this paper, I explore and theorise this tension to understand better how this work could act as a critical lens through which to reveal the pathological conditions of memory in the post-apartheid era.
Period20 Jun 2018
Event typeConference
LocationCape Town, South AfricaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational