Art is a semblant. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan posited that a semblant | Is something that is meant to take the place of an apparent lack but is itself not the object intended to replace the lack. Lacan adds that desire is something we all have but in the idealistic sense will never obtain. In the aftermath of this reality, art is meant to respond. But art itself is filled with a void, and the goal of an artist is to tarry the circumference of this void and attempt to make sense of the ontological struggle of humanity.
Consciously, I know I’m in a South Africa that is politically, but not socially, post-Apartheid. Even so, the little old white lady’s racist comments surprise me. Complaining about the incompetence of black employees in grocery stores, she proudly notes how she nevertheless carefully pronounces the names on their nametags because they like it when we do that. We use their names – treat them as human – because we love the Lord. And then she tucks her purse under her arm and totters away with a smile and a wave to the three black pastors waiting in the adjacent room for my next interview. I don’t think she knows their names.