The Marikana massacre : seeing it all

07 Mar 2016

The Marikana massacre ruptured the South African sociopolitical horizon in August 2012. This analysis aims to expose or make visible the scopic regimes at work when interpreting the event. By referencing Judith Butler’s “frame theory” (2009) and Nicholas Mirzoeff’s “the right to look” (2011), the event is unpacked, among other things, as the volatile intersection of differing world views and technics of vision. Three scopic frames are used to interrogate the event: the first aims to unmask “oversights” during the event, whereas the remaining two deal more with inversions of sight which bear on “foresight” and “insight”. In terms of oversight, the first frame refers to the overseeing or invigilation of the event via instruments of visuality or vision machines (e.g. satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters), promising complete transparency. The second oversight comes in the representations of the events as media spectacle, becoming part of a new mediated visibility. The final oversight refers to the miners as subalterns becoming visible in a system that renders them invisible from the start. The second cluster of the visual complex, namely the appeal to foresight, surfaces through the calling on a Sangoma (traditional healer) for muti (traditional medicine) to render the miners invincible/invisible to the enemy. The third and final cluster refers to artists Ayanda Mabulu’s Yakhal’inkomo—Black man’s cry (2013) and Mary Wafer’s Mine exhibition (2012), aiming to provide some insight into the unrepresentability of the event.