Seeing the strange in the familiar

By Nathan Palmer You are a strange person living in a strange world. However, part of being a good sociologist is remembering just how strange our everyday world is. Do you know how you can spot a tourist from a local? Every time I stop to marvel at some landscape, or look at a sculpture, or especially when I snap a picture, the locals who I share the sidewalk with either roll their eyes or give me a strange look.

Seeing the strange in the familiar

The photographer, a lecturer in African cultural and museum studie at Giessen University in her native Germany, is a regular visitor to Botswana and has struck a partnership with the museum where she often brings her students for research work. This work, which Rakelmann donated to the museum, will strike a familiar chord with the observant viewer as there are to be found signs alongside our roads and some of us might not have even thought much about them.

The thrill of this collection, her fourth, is in the way it perches (and invites readers to perch) so precariously in places at once familiar and strange. The poems are mainly set in zoos, botanical gardens, aviaries, and museums, places themselves balancing the natural and artificial. Ifemulu, on returning to Nigeria, comes to feel what the narrator calls “the strange familiar” (), while Obinze continues to experience “a disorienting strangeness” (33) even in the face of his wealth. KLEX Programme III: THE FAMILIAR STRANGE. A Paradise of Children () min/sound Noe Kidder, USA. This film explores my relationship with an imagined authority figure, possibly a teacher, a parental figure, or a god.

Seen through the lens of an outsider on the gallery, the signs truly become secrets, which are still out there in the open. Like good art, the pictures ask us questions that we find hard to answer. They show us how much we do not know of our people and ourselves.

If these are signs, what have they been trying to communicate to us all this time? Have we missed something here, we ask ourselves? It is when we try to respond to these questions that the signs pose that we begin to see the strange in these familiar structures that are composed, as Rakelmann explains, of plastic, fragments, broken pots and pans, metal scrap, sacks and foils, and even soft drink cans, chibuku cartons and crates perched right in the middle of a huge natural scenery.

One wonders if this is really art or just structures composed of garbage that has made it to the galleries for lack of a worthy work to exhibit. Are there really some secrets encapsulated in these secret signs?

Maybe these are just unintentional creations of bored rural folks. Perhaps the photographer is just romanticising a little too much about our people, and the structures besides our roads.

According to Supa Ngwao museum's Director, Stella Rundle, some of these signs are intentional designs because they often lead somewhere, which might either be a bus stop or an indicator that will help the visitor to get the right directions to a destination. Contrary to Oscar Wilde's famous line, all art is useless; the secret signs on exhibition are, according to Rundle, useful artworks whose meaning is to be found in the form and composition of the structures.

It's a form of progressive art that started as signs, and developed into an art form," observes Rundle. These pictures of signs by the wayside, have been shot over a period of about two years in Ngamiland where a lot of them are to be found.

The secret signs have also proliferated along roadsides in the country over the years in more advanced and varied forms and compositions. One interesting sign that elicits a relatively uniform interpretation from some few viewers at the Supa Ngwao galleries during Arts and Culture's visit, is the one made of a red chibuku crate, with a carton of the local brew perched on it, on the side of a seemingly uninhabited natural setting.

It is unanimously agreed that it tells the thirsty traveller of a nearby drinking hole. Maybe it is a sign of the chibuku delivery truck. There is one with a Stop inscription suspended on a log with two animal skulls hanging at opposite directions. Beside the structure is another built in the shape of a crucifix.

What does it signify? Perhaps the plants here are poisonous to domestic animals. Maybe yes, maybe not. One thing is certain about the signs, they offer a lot of knowledge on the ways of life of the rural population as they struggle in their environment against, social, economic and political elements.

Seeing the strange in the familiar

The signs offer insight into their reality. According to Rakelmann, the exhibition is a symbol of the process of modernisation of rural Botswana and represents unconfused, unique and typical sculptures in the Botswana landscape. The signs are a living example of humanity's penchant for communication that transcends time, place, and levels of civilisation through creative imagination, and a developed sense of improvisation.

The signs are skillfully and tastefully built, and rebuilt, from time to time if necessary. To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.The Strange Familiar is an American pop rock band from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

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The group was originally formed in by the husband and wife singer-songwriter team Jeff Andrea and Kira Leyden, former members of the popular Akron, OH band Jaded Era.

The Strange Familiar is an American pop rock band from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The group was originally formed in by the husband and wife singer-songwriter team Jeff Andrea and Kira Leyden, former members of the popular Akron, OH band Jaded Era. Seeing The Familiar As Strange.

Sociology asks you to look at your life, your community, your world again for the first time. As a discipline we urge you to “see the familiar as strange”. Become a tourist in your own life, and notice all of the little details that have faded into the background.

Seeing the familiar de-familiarised – place-names whose connection to other histories have been over-written – helps us to think about the multiple stories embedded in places we once imagined in simple and linear Eurocentric manners. Seeing The Familiar As Strange. Sociology asks you to look at your life, your community, your world again for the first time.

As a discipline we urge you to “see the familiar as strange”. Become a tourist in your own life, and notice all of the little details that have faded into the background. Seeing come before words”, the famous phrase said by John Berger, a famous philosopher and an art critics in one of his well-known book “Way of seeing”.

Berger intention by writing this book was to help people “start a process of questioning” on the way people see things in general through art; on how what we learn, what our culture teaches us affect the way we see images that surround us.

Familiar as Strange – Sociology In Focus