Zimbabwean artist Dan Halter’s ‘All of a Sardine’ was produced in 2007 for his exhibition Never Say Never.
ArtThrob: How do you feel about being miscast?
All of a Sardine: What do you mean?
AT: I mean that you are not a sardine or at least you are not known as a sardine in your country of origin?
AoS: Yes, but I am certainly a sardine.
AT: But locally, I mean in your own country, you are known as a kapenta?
AoS: Yes, but locally here I am known as a sardine or certainly people here recognize me as such.
AT: Are you happy with that?
AoS: Not particularly and I must say that is does give me some pleasure when people recognize me as a kapenta. That always brings me some joy but I have grown used to the term ‘sardine’.
AT: And your children?
AoS: No they ask to be called kapenta. But as you can imagine I don’t really see them that much these days. Most of them are in Zimbabwe anyway and there isn’t that issue where I am from. Of course there are many other issues there but not specifically the kapenta/sardine one. There is more a distinction between dagaa or ndaga but that is an issue that I am more comfortable with.
AT: Why more comfortable?
AoS: You grow up with these things I suppose.
AT: Is it difficult to live away from your home?
AoS: I think that one can pretty much get used to anything. Of course there are moments when I think about home but they dissipate during the common old humdrum and bustle of everyday life. I tend to get a lot of traffic coming through were I am. So never a dull moment.
AT: And it hasn’t been all bad?
AoS: No, no, I don’t think I should or could say that. But at times you know…
AT: Obviously there is also something to your existence that needs explanation. The ‘all of a sudden,’ ‘all of a sardine’ pun. How does that make you feel?
AoS: It’s not too bad. You know it could have been worse. ‘Something fishy’; ‘small fry’; ‘green about the gills’; ‘fish out of water’; ‘the scales of justice’; ‘scaley émigré b******d’. Yes, it could have been a lot worse. I am relatively happy with what I got away with.
AT: Why all of a sudden though?
AoS: I think things can happen pretty quickly. You know politically you can live in a stable country everybody minding their own business. I mean a little corruption here, some racism there, a little bit of beating around the corner, some harmless voter fixing and perhaps the money machine prints out a little too much and then whammo ‘all of a sardine’. You know? The one minute you are in a peaceful old lake and then woop-bang-james-be-your-uncle. Somebody turns on a light. Before you know who your mother is you are in a net flipping yourself silly. You’re on a drier seven seconds later and then you on the bus down to some country you hardly ever heard of.
AT: Are you lonely?
AoS: No no no, not lonely. Not at all. Too many things to do to be lonely.