Friday, June 22, 2007
it started at 18:00
with: ATHI PATRA RUGA & ANTHEA MOYS (SA), RAPHAEL URWEIDER & STEFFI WEISMANN (SWITZERLAND) AND KURA SHOMALI & VITSHOIS MWILAMBWE (DRC) in collaboration with JOCA (JOÃO PAULO), MUKUMELA MUSIIWA RATHOGWA, (MANDLA) XTRA MDLULU AND LUVUYO GOPE FROM THE DRILL HALL, BIANCA NOBANDA, KUDZANI CHIURAI, NADINE HUTTON, CHRISTOPHER PATRA, JAMES DYLAN HAPPE and DOROTHEE KREUTZFELDT.
to recap: Effectively KIN-BE-JOZI is an exchange project between artists and cultural networks from BERN, KINSHASA AND JOHANNESBURG. Those who initiated the project and acted as hosts in each city are Eza Possible (collective Kin), Jean Christophe Lanquetin from ScUr&ºK (Paris), Katrien Reist from PROGR_Zentrum für Kultur Produktion in Bern, and Dorothee Kreutzfeldt from the Joubert Park Project (JHB).
The idea: for a group of artists from each city to come together in each city and develop a dialogue in response to the specific context of each city: Kinshasa-Bern-Johannesburg. Each city presents a particular urban reality and ideology; each features differently on a global scale. The idea was to develop a kind of travelling dialogue, that would arise out of the engagement between the artists, the geographic distances and specific moments in the life of each city. As such the project was open-ended, an experiment. It depended on what the artists brought to the group, what they were looking for and how they would take on the idea of a dialogue.
Before JHB: The project started in October last year in Bern, the capital of SWITZERLAND, with a group of five artists from each place. The same group worked together in KINSHASA over December. A regrouping took place in Joburg in May with Raphael Urweider and Visthois Mwilambwe s part of the original group, and new artists including Steffi Weismann, Kura Shomali, Athi Patra Ruga and Anthea Moys. 4 strangers, 3 hosts and their local networks.
The hosts did the introductions to the east end grid - the Drill Hall, PONTY, Hillbrow, GEORGE’S boxing CLUB on Claim Street, 15th floor Plumridge in Berea, KINMALEBO in Yeoville, private strip clubs in Joubert Park, the vacant Ster City, ‘Little Mozambique’, THE Top of Africa’ in Carlton, and further a field Freedom Square, Sandton, Montecasino… From here the city introduced itself - a self-defense book, prostitutes at night below the window, gunshots at the corner, the cold at night, open door parties in Yeoville, Congolese bands, more parties, more dancing, ‘mind your head’, freshFISH from Kerk Street (little 'mozambique'), people running, photographs of AFRICAN leaders in some magazine. Artists were warned not to walk alone in the street, not at night at all… With the focus on process and dialogue, the artists researched and worked in the inner city for 6 weeks, with August House on end Street as their base.
Many of the resulting collaborations and performances were impulsive and site-specific, as much as they followed the interests and modus operandi each artist brought to the group. Raph (dj arafat) collaborated with the drill hall crew (Joca, Xtra, Tashika and Vuyo) on a series of hip -hop tracks; Kura and Raph initiated the 'safari dream team' tour to the wealthy northern suburbs which resulted in an animated photo-series by Nadine Hutton; the sound was edited by James Happe, using interviews that Joca had done during the tour (xtra, your mother is somewhere, we know it). Kura worked mainly in drawings - his visual kura-phone - to try and get closer to the disquietening maze that the city shows. Steffi collaborated with Vuyo on a dada-like xhosa-swiss german song performance (loved those plastic bag beats)...
HOW IS YOUR FRENCH?
Many of the people the artists connected with during the residency are not originally from JHB but come from Venda, Angola, Kinshasa, Harare, and Vereeniging. Between French, English, Xhosa, Zulu and SOUHaeli (spell?), communication was often broken and surreal and left many questions. Dialogues emerged through walking, witnessing, documenting, participating in training, picking up flyers…. It depended on how one would or could read the city’s codes.
for FRIDAY 15 JUNE, the artists and their collaborators presented documentation and selected work/performances. It included slide-projections of the 3 cities, a sort of family album from the 6 weeks in jhb (with patra's 'honey looking butter' shots) and a compilation of video-work produced during the time. The kitchen became the bar (thanks to kudzi for the exquisite shopping trolley with ak47s), complete with african home movie posters ('nigger' is the favourite) and drawings by kura (2010 theme-park). Performances ran parallel: virtual Vicky in dialogue with Steffi, Patra and Ruga - the latter two moved onto End Street to fashion their 'i've got stories' epic conversation between confession, catharsis and pavement pole come-on. The evening acted as a dialogue in progress, in an ongoing encounter with each city. It assumed that cities are expressions of our minds and desires; that they constitute our world-view; it assumed that a great part of cities exists primarily in our imagination, our aspirations and fears; it proposed that as a newcomer you will look first for the hard edges, for incomprehensible realities and the contrasts of a city. Since Kura and Visthois played hard to get in Mozambique (next time please check your visas before leaving SA, we missed you), we turned Kura's room into a 'looking glass' by opening the door, yet obstructing any entry. There were already enough drawings and notes on the walls, amongst the creative chaos and junk. We added a TV that ran off a video camera with one of Visthois' unedited street performance docs in Benin. Rest to say that the evening ended happily on the couches of queen-mother Bié next door; we love august house (thanks Bié ).
Much of the value of a residency lies in the experience itself, in discovering a place with different rules, languages, potentials and cultural givens. Dialogues and exchanges are more often ad hoc, intuitive and incomplete, and only in retrospective do they seem to ‘fall into place’ (or not) in relation to one’s practice. The exhibition acted as a moment, a pointer in this process. ca va deja.
We would like to thank our generous sponsors: the French Institute of South Africa, Pro Helvetia Switzerland and Cape Town, the National Arts Council, the French Embassy in Kinshasa and the City of Bern. Special thanks also to Carole Chauvin (translation and running), Mzebenzi Phakathi (nice follow-spotting), Romeo Puthu and Gilles Akunda, Bié Venter, Joseph Gaylard and Gibson Khumalo.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
“Interventions are temporary intrusions in a site that seek to make alternatives evident.” (Spiegl and Teckert:2006:12)
Grab Hold Tightly and Pull Down Hard
“Above all, perhaps, it is important to engage in an equal exchange with others that re-embodies experiences and meanings across networks of ‘locals’. In this respect the tricky spirit of invention and intervention seeks to open up new ethical landscapes, creating both new narratives and new agents” (Peluffo:2005:63).
George Khosi was my instructor at his boxing ring For two weeks Joca, Steffi and I walked to the boxing ring and trained for around 2 hours at a time every day Sometimes in the ring and sometimes in the street Walking from August House to Claim street every day became interaction with a dialogue in itself Game of survival vs the game to have fun . Play versus seriousness of crime in the city creates an interesting dialogue/paradox for me. The rules we make every day in order to survive. The roles we play - One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten Self defence in THIS city of Johannesburg The tension between experiment and safety is where the play moment begins is where the dialogue begins… inspiration for games begins within this tension. The game created out of the existing structure (the boxing site, ring, training) was a tool which I created in order to reinstate a sense of interaction and humour, perhaps into a space which is largely viewed as unstable, dangerous and hopeless. The participation of others in the space makes the work.