By Rolihlahla Mhlanga
Art practice is no recreation nor is it just merely a field of study. For the practitioners themselves... art is a vocation. A commitment, a means to contribute to the cultural currency of a society, or even the countries per capita GDP.
It paints a vivid picture of our past and helps to bring to light the parody of the present day in satirical fashion. Allow me to bring this into the socio-economic context of Alexandra Township. Once dubbed "Maboneng" which literally means "the place of lights"... begs the question "Whatever happened to the previously dispossessed majority being invited to share in the country's land and wealth as in our constitution post 1994? "
Albeit the progress the law is making on the matter stated as section 25(5) of the Constitution the government 'must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis'.
As we take a look back at history "In 1985 the government introduced Black local Authorities and Township councils as an extension of the apartheid administration. Alexandra residents responded by establishing their own alternative to this. This counter-council was called the Alexandra Action Committee. The committee organised Alexandra into yard, block, and street committees to take over the day to day running of Alexandra Township." - Sahistory.org.za
It is therefore through such remembrance that we continue to build on this legacy and seek ways to achieve our rightful salvation... because it is not popular rhetoric.
Cultural practice and exchange has become the key tenet in this discussion as a means for individuals, communities to take a stab at opportunity and break the cycle of inequality and discrimination. By owning the means to production this may give us a chance at achieving self-determination.
Our homes provide the necessary infrastructure which our families and the artists are constituents... all the while our audiences become or develop into our patronage.
This at first may seem daunting as parameters need to be put into place for us to truly appreciate the aesthetic. Unlike the proverbial white cube… the manner in which the artwork is displayed visitors are invited to engage with the prominent voices and prevalent discourse.
"In this presentation MTAE attempts to amplify the curiosity of the poor and more affluent resident about the future of the national township in its political, cultural and physical stature. Debates are to be born of ethics, technology, family legacies and historical misinformation to be put into the open and into a creative product."- Siphiwe Ngwenya.
Imagine a township fixing itself from inside out after eating itself from inside out. What leads you to deplete yourself? And most importantly what leads you to forgive yourself and pick up the pieces? What do you look like as you pick up these bloody pieces of legacy? Finally, who is the new you? Who is the new township? What do you both do to the future? How does the future feel about you?
As Part of the Maboneng Township Experience Assemblage supported by the African Arts Trust will present the following:
Ubulungiswa Justice Collaboration
This collaborative project was created in response to the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town in 2015. This year saw the start of national student protests in South Africa, which fuelled academic debate and global discussion around white privilege, decolonisation and social justice.
The project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between twenty-two artists including; research, performance, costume design, music, sound, film, photography, design and installation.Ubulungiswa/Justice Collaboration is a collective of artists from the Karoo Disclosure Collaboration (2014 to 2017) and artists from Young in Prison South Africa (YiPSA) during 2016.
Young in Prison South Africa (YiPSA) is a non-profit organisation that offers a holistic programme, which seeks to prepare children and youth in conflict with law in making the transition from incarceration back into society. YiPSA directly responds to the need for South Africa to deal effectively with the issue of young people participating in gang activity, taking drugs and committing violent crimes. This issue is deeply rooted in the legacy of apartheid and the post-democratic state’s challenge in eradicating all forms of poverty that leads to inequality and unemployment.
Deborah Weber/Gina Waldman: Project Liaison.
1. Anwar McWhite: Post Production
2. Clinton Osbourn: Workshop Facilitator
3. Damien Morrison: Sound Recording, Sound Post, Musical Score
4. Damien Schumann: Director of Photography
5. Deborah Weber: Researcher, Curator, Performer, Costume
6. Elgin Rust: Set and Installation Artist, Catalogue Design
7. Eric Menyo: Performer, Character and Costume Design
8. Gina Waldman: Stylist, Costume, Make up, Copy Editor
9. Jolene Cartmill: Film Editor
10. Kwanele Dyasi: Performer, Character and Costume Designer
11. Lazola Sikhutshwa: Performer, Exhibition Design
12. Loyiso Botha: Performer, Character and Costume Designer, Exhibition Design
13. Luntu Vumazonke: Performer, Character and Costume Designer, Exhibition Design
14. Luvo Mjayezi: Researcher, Writer
15. Maileshi Setti: Performer, Character and Costume Designer
16. Mandisile Keva: Performer, Exhibition Design
17. Margaret Stone: Photographer
18. Michelle Liao: Jewelery Designer
19. Nikki Froneman: Performance Coach, Copy Editor
20. Vuyokazi Magobiyane: Project Assistant
21. Vuyolwethu Adams: Performer, Scriptwriter, Character and Costume Designer
22. Xolisa Pezisa: Performer, Character and Costumre Designer
As Part of the Maboneng Township Experience Assemblage supported by the African Arts Trust will also present the following:
Bumba & Andre
Bumba & Andre is an African artistic duo who works with a plethora of media. As two collaborative artists, they typically work with: drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, video, text, photography and performance. Bumba & Andre explore the phenomenon of dichotomy and duality. Their work is broad and dynamic, pushing the physical and conceptual limitations of each medium they work with. Bumba & Andre’s work straddles the line between quirk and humour, and the reality of the topics they deal with; always sprinkling in the “lighter side” in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
The duo explores the concepts of: love and romance, heritage and race, gender and sexuality, history and histories, the primitive, language, play, psychology, the abject, and neo-fantasy. Bumba and Andre created “neo-fantasy” as the playground to scrutinise the human condition and interpersonal relationships. Their fantastical world is constructed around the alternative, the hypothetical and the impossible; informed by the subjective experience of the [each] other.
Jacques du Toit (Andre):
Du Toit was born in South Africa in 1989 and lives in Johannesburg. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (cum laude) in 2011 at the University of the Witwatersrand. Du Toit won runner up at the Sasol New Signatures national art competition in 2013, and in the same year he was selected for the Top 100 at the ABSA L’Atelier national art competition.
In addition, du Toit has participated in a number of group exhibitions: Basic Reality, at the Goodman Gallery Project Space (2011), DOG, at The Alliance Francąise (2012) and When We Look at You, at the Fordsburg Bag Factory (2013). In 2014 he was also included in the top selection at the Thami Mnyele national art competition.
Tamara Longwe (Bumba):
Longwe was born in Ndola, Zambia in 1993. Longwe and the rest of her immediate family relocated to Mbombela, South Africa in 1994 after the country gained its emancipation from the Apartheid regime. Longwe grew up in Mbombela and moved to Braamfontein, Gauteng to pursue her studies in Psychology. In 2014 Longwe graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree - majoring in English Literature and Psychology - and obtained her Honours degree in General Psychology in 2015.
In 2015 Longwe met du Toit and it was this encounter that inspired a strong interest in Fine Arts. In 2016 Longwe and du Toit started an art business under Jacques du Toit Art, where Longwe’s artistic contribution was creative writing. Later that year they teamed up as an artistic duo, forming Bumba & Andre. The Sasol New Signatures competition (2017) is their debut as performance artists.
Prints on Paper Selection of Prints
Also included as part of the Maboneng Township Arts Experience is a selection of prints by artists working with Prints on Paper.
Sanele Omari Jali was born 1984 Port Shepstone, KwaZulu Natal and graduated from the Univeristy of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus with a BA Fine Art Degree majoring in Fine Art and Art History in 2010. Sanele specialised in printmaking with a major interest in Lithography as a focus medium. Sanele has worked as a printmaker at the University of KwaZulu Natal Centre for Visual Arts, as well as at LL Editions as a Studio Printer 2014. Since 2015 he has worked as a freelance Master Printer at Prints On Paper, based at the Assemblage Studios in Ferreirasdorp Johannesburg.
Sanele Omari Jali explores black identity in his primary medium of silkscreen. He uses geometric shapes and an emphasis on strong colours to test the idea that people or objects should be accepted in any form, shape or colour that they appear.
For TAF17 Jali presents a series titled ‘Complexion’. Using his unique style, he creates a contemporary interpretation of blackness; myths, wealth, beauty, high power, struggle and success. Can one disrupt cyclical marginalisation, discrimination and colourism using only geometric lines and primary colours? Similarly, the contrast between favouritism and discrimination portrayed by the “Gold” and “Bronx” sculpture on paper is plain to see. Jali seeks the freedom that comes with simplicity and the notion of a reality that is yet to manifest.
His work is both minimalist and super-realist. Minimalist because he strips things, shapes, objects down to their simplest geometric form. Super-realist because he is exploring a space that doesn’t quite exist - there is fantasy in the world he is imagining. Jali argues that the simplicity of form serves the idea of acceptance and freedom.
Sifiso Temba b. (1989) lives in Vosloorus, Gauteng. He is an artist and printmaker that use a variety of mediums. Temba’s artworks explores the issue of crime in South Africa and globally. He completed a 3 year Professional Development Programme at Artist Proof Studio and he is currently assisting with facilitating 3rd years in conceptual development at Artist Proof Studio. He is a member of the Wang’Thola collective.
Sifiso Temba creates work about his personal experiences which include flirting with crime and living within an urban township in contemporary South Africa, circa 2017.
For TAF17 Temba has made a series of prints titled ‘Drawn into the darkness’ that deal with the struggle of good and evil. As a young male, he depicts his struggle with that which he knows is right versus the temptations around him to do wrong. His works are dark, abstract, narratives that speak to the heart of each of us as human beings and our daily struggles in the world that we find ourselves.
Temba chooses to juxtapose these multi layered images with bright colours depicting icons and text that speak to salvation, and an alternative view. The images that Temba has created for TAF17 are strong, striking and deserve the time to be viewed and contemplated. They offer multiple entry points into the lives of some many young South Africans and their daily struggle – a view that can be both challenging and at the same time rewarding.
MINENKULU NGOYI After completing his matric with a distinction in drawing at Bracken High School in 2007. Minenkulu Ngoyi went on to graduated from Artist Proof Studio (2011) in Johannesburg, a renowned community-based printmaking studio. His subject matter explores his relationship with the Shembe religion and culture, historically connected to his family. Ngoyi is also very active in creative workshops and collectives - he co-founded Alphabet Zoo, a Joburg street-culture zine that invites collaboration from young artists, illustrators, publishers and designers. Ngoyi is co-running the printmaking studio Prints on Paper alongside Isaac Zavale.
Mini Ngoyi’s work for TAF17 continues his interest in protection, safety, security and both past and current situations that South Africans find themselves in. Ngoyi is interested in colonialism, in past wrongs and present conversations. His work questions, ridicules, challenges and speaks to these issues. Ngoyi enjoys using words to express his ideas and to get his viewer to think twice about what they are seeing. He uses symbols and icons found in popular media and from historical references.
Ngoyi’s works presented at TAF17 combine several elements that speak to these ideas. Orange, blue and white mimic the old South African flag. Hyenas and German shepherds allude to the police force, security service and Africa’s wild scavengers. Familiar figures in the pose of a triumphant statue. Words – fidelity/fatality, we protect and we serve.
Ngoyi challenges the idea of a system that protects, questioning who is responsible for violence in our land. Can such a system serve both the people and the security industry? Are there echoes of the past today in the present? Ngoyi questions who holds the power and what is our identity….
ISAAC ZAVALE is a Mozambican born artist who grew up in South Africa. He studied at Artist Proof Studio and now is based at the Prints on Paper Studios in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg. His family fled to South Africa in 1989 during the civil war between “Frelimo and Renamo”. Once in South Africa they experienced the “Inkatha” and ANC riots during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Zavale makes art about his experiences and identity giving a voice through visual iconography to some of the politics that has shaped his current existence.
Sthembiso Zwane was born in 1989 in Soweto, Johannesburg. He completed his matric in 2008. In 2009 and 2010 he studied printmaking at Artist Proof Studio. In 2011, he started painting murals with Dancing Brushes, a company he founded. In 2014, he began to focus more on printmaking. He was selected for the Sasol New Signature TOP 100 and he has also been one of the finalists of the ThamiMnyele art awards. Sthembiso is interested in exploring different mediums, such as painting, pencil drawing and puppets. Sthembiso is currently a print technician at Prints on Paper in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg.
Sthembiso Zwane is a talented printmaker who makes works about his personal journeys and his family. Zwane comes from a family of taxi drivers. When he was in his early teens he spent a year living with his grandfather in Kwa-Zulu Natal. During this time, he travelled in his grandfather’s taxi, watching and getting to know his daily passengers. The majority of people that Sthembiso’s grandfather transported were pensioners being taken to collect their monthly pensions or grants. Sthembiso is fascinated by the changing human body, the elderly and the portrait in particular as a way of expressing his emotional response to the people around him and his memories of the journeys with his grandfather.
ANTONIO PACHECO Antonio Marin (1983) is a chilean designer based in Johannesburg, aiming to understand this land of crossing- cultures through the nature poetry. “Pajaristico, the language of the birds”, is a series of prints that show the birds that you usually can see around Johannesburg. The prints present nine birds species with three variations of each one: their inner, their outer and their void. The birds are shaped by circles revealing their geometric morphology, circles that also shows how they communicate by their sing. This serie is based in the poem “Observations of the language of the birds” from the chilean poet Juan Luis Martinez.