The Roman numeral that signifies the number 10, and the letter X that represents an open signifier. It’s a time for both a backward reflection and an imagining of possibilities and futures. With the tenth incarnation of Tankwa Town in 2016, contemplate a decade of the evolution of AfrikaBurn; pay homage to what has been and to entertain the possibilities of what’s yet to come.
The number ten signifies the completion of a cycle. In the Tarot, ten is the wheel of fortune, which symbolises the beginning of a new cycle. In the Pythagorean tradition of exploring the beauty, symbolism and mysticism of numbers, the Decad suggests a new beginning of limitlessness. In mystical traditions, X stands for birth and death.
The letter X is the “certain something”, the “unknown quantity” of mathematics; it has been called mysterious, dangerous, scientific, intellectual, city slicker, and pagan. It holds a mystique, smacks of the strange, the alien and the exotic, the forbidden. It is the signature of the illiterate; it marks the spot where the treasure is buried. The X is powerful as a structural element. It indicates a vote, anonymity, invented or reclaimed identity, and sometimes denotes a former state (when last did you hear from your X?). We use the symbol to mark ballot boxes: the cross can mean angry but is also shorthand for a kiss. It’s a multiplier. It’s a magic symbol. It denotes both a crossroads and a confluence.
It is this algebraic sense of X, the blankness and flexibility, this unknown variable that invokes the essence of Tankwa Town, and what makes it work: a blank canvas. Tankwa Town has no specific meaning other than that which you impress upon it –this makes it a frontier of immense possibilities and potential.
Whether X stands for exoticism, taboo, or technological progress, it’s a reminder that Tankwa Town is made by you. Honour the builders who came before, upon whose creativity we stand. Let’s embrace the ever-constant drive for new and unexpected. We invite you to engage with this open thematic and participate in the new decade.
What does your X mean?