THE MAGAZINE RAW MATERIAL FEATURES: Marcelo Rezende and the New Avant-Garde | Political Architecture in Burkina Faso and South Africa | Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum | Hip-Hop in Nigeria | INTERVIEWS: David Zilber | Atose Aguele | Zeitz MOCAA |
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MOMO The Magazine | Issue 00 | Spring 2017 | Raw Material
Monna Mokoena Editor at Large
Siphiwe Mhlambi Kleinjan Groenewald
Nisha von Carnap Creative Director Tracey Hawthorne Copy Editor
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited. MOMO The Magazine is published quarterly by Gallery MOMO.
Rizqua Barnes Nina Lieska
Printed in South Africa. All paper used in the production of this magazine comes from well-managed sources.
COVER IMAGE ISSN 2522-3216
Henn+Honeyball Design & Illustration
ÂŠ Brett Rubin
David Zilber Denmark/Canada
Sethembile Msezane, Abaphantsi, 2015. CONTACT
Yvette GreslĂŠ England Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung Germany/Cameroon Tim Leibbrandt South Africa Marcelo Rezende Germany/Brazil Philippa Tumubweinee South Africa/Uganda
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Garth Roberts Germany/Italy/Canada Leon Krige South Africa
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Oris Aigbokhaevbolo Nigeria Solly Moeng South Africa Victor Dlamini South Africa Kojo Baffoe South Africa
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FROM THE EDITOR Monna Mokoena
MOMO The Magazine is a celebration of Africa and Africans – whether on the continent or in the diaspora, or simply a deep affinity to and for Africa. ‘Raw material’ is the theme of this founding issue. From raw material, moulded and crafted, through human intervention emerges the memorable and the meaningful – that material matter becomes the basis for art, design and creativity. This issue not only features raw material, but also references the evolution of our venture: from ideas, emotions, questions, patterns and responses through to structured thoughts and conceptual formulations – a product born of passion. So, among other explorations, we follow the evolution of South African radio station Kaya FM over the last 20 years; we examine the design ethos behind two government structures, one in Burkina Faso and the other in Johannesburg, South Africa;
we t a ke a wa l k t h ro u g h At o s e Aguele’s collection of African art; we chat to Marcelo Rezende about the history of radical ideas in curation; and we feature some extraordinary artists and designers – Canadian David Zilber, South African Leon Krige, Nigeria’s Wizkid and Canadian Garth Roberts. It took a team to get us here, and we want to thank the many great friends, partners, artists, thinkers and creators who guided us through the process of figuring out what precise raw material we needed to mould and emerge with in our first MOMO The Magazine – Issue 00, Spring 2017. Thank you all for making this possible. In the thrust and flux and chaos of the contemporary world, which whirls and spins and reels from one social-media meme to the next, far too often we’re too absorbed by and immersed in the digital realm of immediacy that we don’t find the time to step back, observe
and celebrate the present and the permanent and the material – the raw material – all iconic pointers to an enduring imprint of a today, well into a significant future. In forthcoming issues, we plan to document and expose the beautiful, the interesting, the eccentric and the extraordinary – to celebrate architecture, travel, art, life and the exponents we’ve encountered as we’ve journeyed through this world. This is the first step of many more to come. We look forward to walking the path with you.
DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
04 David Zilber: ‘Fucking with people’ and the inability to time travel
48 Governments in glass houses: Transparent structures symbolise a radical shift
80 Sharing luxury: InResidence in Cape Town
12 Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum: A lover of stories 21 Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung: Savvy talk
82 Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints 54 Garth Roberts: I’m not insecure, just sensitive to design
84 Who said print is dead? It’s alive and well and living in Kampala
MUSIC 85 Delights: A cocktail; a sandwich
26 Insight: Zeitz MOCAA: Four curators talk about their roles JOYS OF LIVING 32 A walk in the parks: The leafy suburbs of Joburg COLLECTING 36 Atose Aguele: The collector as custodian of african art history 42 Marcelo Rezende: The new avant-garde
62 Leon Krige: Sight and sound 85 MOMO selector: Good music 70 The boys are doing it: Nigerian music finds its voice
86 Kaya FM: More than radio
74 Sethembile Msezane: Re-imagined bodies of a (South African) 90s born woman
88 African business etiquette: An iconic handshake; African time
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‘FUCKING WITH PEOPLE’ AND THE INABILITY TO TIME TRAVEL Canadian-born Copenhagen resident, chef and photographer David Zilber makes magic in both the world of photography and the fermentation lab of world-renowned restaurant noma. MOMO The Magazine asked him about shooting on film, how he chooses titles, and when a zucchini is more than a zucchini. Photographs: David Zilber
M0MO: Deconstructing and creating seem to be your mode when photographing and cooking. Would you agree? David Zilber: To answer that, I’m going to have to take a little detour, but a scenic one that delves into the history and inner workings of noma. Kitchens are top-down environments; the word may as well come from God on high, preaching to mortals below. And, especially in high-end kitchens, you find that a consistency of product is a large part of the craft. As such, cooks can become a bit, well, robotic, recreating with precision someone else’s ideas day in, day out. When I first arrived at noma in 2014, I definitely went the safe route for the first couple of projects. But it didn’t take long for me to throw caution to the wind and start cooking... ideas or, as the director on the commentary track of my life would call it, ‘fucking with people’. One such project was titled Process and Synthesis (Analogies for Emergence). It contained some 30 different vegetables, all brunoised to a size of less than one cubic millimetre, cooked differently, and then combined to create a harmony that existed beneath each individual ingredient’s threshold of recognisability. Did it taste good? Well, ya, it really did. But further to its taste upfront, it forced you to question your own ability to discern flavours. It asked you to break apart and process the quanta of qualia, and how it is that you taste, well, at all. To answer your question, this project of mine was a practical manifestation of the framework of synthesis via reduction – breaking something apart to build something bigger. It’s an arm of the epistemological branch of study known as reductionism. In Process and Synthesis it was taken to the extreme of its literal interpretation, but, yes, I’d say I apply it in far subtler ways in my own cooking and photography; to bodies of knowledge, aesthetics, and modes of consumption. MOMO: You’ve previously referred to consciousness as the tool that enables you to distance yourself from the processes of life, and see the processes. What does this mean? DZ : C o n s c i o u s n e s s a n d s e l fawarene ss aren’t some binary
constructs, as they’re often purported to be in popular science. While many creatures in the living world are effectively biochemical robots, responding to outside stimuli mechanically, there are many creatures that couldn’t recognise themselves in a mirror but still possess some notion of ‘intent’. The concept of ‘theory of mind’ is one I think about frequently. Humans are exceptionally good at it, navigating our eusocial landscape by guessing what other people might think about our actions, using it as the mechanism to form a social contract that glues together families, communities, nations and, at the end of the day, for better or worse, a human planet over 7,5 billion strong. While humans are deft employers of this cognitive feat, we aren’t always aware that we’re actively employing it. It’s the moment that you start to think about yourself thinking that you can really hone in on the power to control thought. ‘I can’t remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I’ve eaten; even so, they’ve made me’ is a quote by [American essayist] Ralph Waldo Emerson that I love. Many of the books I’ve read have gravitated around an epistemological centre, touching on how it is we come to know the things we know. The consumption of all these epistemological texts has ended up forming the scaffolding of my worldview. It spills over into my art and what you see in the titles of my photographic works, like logical atomism, rationalism, empiricism. I try and make my way through the world one level up, seeing and critiquing systems instead of instances. Once exposed to a whole manner of epistemological theory, you can’t unsee it; it stays with you and ends up tainting your ability to analyse anything for what it is without wondering how it is at all. In Carol Kaesuk Yoon’s book Naming Nature, a beautiful exposition on the history of taxonomy and the human relationship to the natural world, she writes, ‘We were patterned into nature before we ever discovered any of nature’s patterns.’ We navigate, and strive to contort the living world to our whims, unaware that we’re subject to the very same
forces of nature we seek to control. This meta-consciousness I speak of, this ‘self-awareness’, is to me the discovery of our own pattern within nature’s grand scheme. MOMO: You shoot on 135mm film and once it’s processed you digitise the analogue images to publish them on your website or Instagram account. Can you explain what that process means? DZ: At an after-hours rave for the Canadian band Glass Candy well over a decade ago, I smashed my shitty digital camera in the mosh pit. That was, I believe, a Thursday night, and that weekend we were headed up to a friend’s cottage. I was no photographer back then. I owned a cheap point-and-shoot to simply document things and post them on Facebook. So without the funds to replace my Sony whatever-the-fuck, I opted to pop into a convenience store and grab the cheapest disposable camera I could find in order to keep documenting my life, especially since I was heading out of town. That disposable camera taught me something no digital camera ever could have: it taught me to think. On returning from the trip, I probably came back with five or six good photos. I knew that photography was more than just pressing ‘click’ from that moment on. Making photos wasn’t a mechanical action after that, with the human eye being an extension of the camera’s gears and levers. It was a thought process. Shooting on film, being restricted by the physicality of the medium, the 36 frames on a roll, forces me to see the world in a different way before I take the shot. I manufacture the photo in my mind before I release the shutter, instead of shooting first and asking questions an instantaneous moment later. I find it’s crafted an intuition about what photos to produce that simultaneously is my thumbprint as a photographer. I think no matter what you do, it’s important to have a style, an identity, a red thread through your work. My medium helps me to achieve that. The fact that I have to digitise it afterwards only speaks to my inability to time travel, preferably to a time before the overdemocratisation and dilution of the image. But those are just the times we live in, I suppose.
Truly free things travel on the paths of least resistance. Ideas and images enjoy the relatively frictionless digital world. MOMO: Your online photo series are named after philosophical concepts and theories. What do they mean in relation to the images? DZ: The titles of those series are perhaps not meant to be taken at face value. As I mentioned, these epistemological frameworks, while many sit in contradiction to each other, all have the capacity to act as a lens through which you can view the world completely. To borrow an analogy from gastronomy, if you tell someone, before they take a sip of wine, that the wine is ripe with notes of cherries and plum, they’ll go looking for it, and quite probably taste it. So much of the act of tasting happens in your head, and thought, unlike the organic volatile molecule that transmits flavour, can be skewed – leading the witness, so to speak. I use the narrative power endemic to the act of naming a thing to my advantage: to get you to feel what it means to know; to question how you see, or perceive, before you think about what I was thinking or perceived at the moment I pressed ‘click’. For casual consumers of art or images, however – people who may not even be familiar with these concepts – I hope that I at the very least stir enough curiosity to get them to punch these ‘isms’ into Google, and leave their minds a hair richer at the end of the day. MOMO: Why does being a chef work so well together with being a photographer? Is it about constructing a sensual product? DZ: Qualia is a concept I come back to when thinking about either photos or food. And it ties into atomism experientially as well. It’s the idea that, at some point, the indivisible kernel of experience, whether that’s the experience of the colour yellow (not its wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum) or the flavour of a mango (not the structure of the organic molecules that compose it), are at their core indivisible units within a mind, that can then be combined and accessed by a conscious agent to craft memories and experiences. The structure of the human brain is the most mysterious and complex
system humans have encountered in the whole of the visible universe, but it holds that somewhere within it, all manners of qualia exist as arrangements of the structure within which they sit. Cooking and tasting and crafting a whole out of raw parts demands you pay attention to the multidimensional qualia of ingredients. A zucchini is not just a zucchini. Is it spongy? Is it verdant? Is it flavoursome? Is it dry? If you keep looking for the individual quanta of quality, you’ll keep finding them, like theoretical physicists peeling back the veil of supersymmetrical subatomic particles. How far does it go? I honestly don’t know but I’m still forced to ask myself these questions. My tendency towards abstraction in my art is informed by the same logic – forcing the distillation of a scene on the viewer, whether that be a moment in time, a colour or a part that begs to be reconstituted in a whole. Using this thought process, out of the ordinary springs the emotional, in both food and art. If the sensual is born of the senses, then, yes, my work is sensual. MOMO: How important are the titles of your photographs and the names of your dishes? For example, the title Recidivism, which means the tendency to repeat a previous mode, behaviour or condition. DZ: I think I landed on Recidivism [for my photo journal] because I wanted to start doing something I would keep doing – reoffending without learning from my mistakes. Ironically, my practice has invariably been informed by all the mistakes I’ve made, but I suppose that’s why they call it a practice, as if you were never supposed to play that cumulative master symphony, but only ever strive to hit every note without falter. But the unattainability of perfection demands that you fail again and again and again… I think I’ve answered what the titles of some of my photographs should do to an observer, but as for food, the opulent description of ingredients is anathema to how I use the power of a name. The world of food has taken a sharp turn in the past couple of decades to a selectively parsimonious mode of description, where only the ingre-
‘So much of the act of tasting happens in your head, and thought, unlike the organic volatile molecule that transmits flavour, can be skewed – leading the witness, so to speak.’
dients more pertinent to the chef’s ego make their way onto the card – take ‘Squab / fermented grain / nitro grapefruit’ as a strawman. The new Nordic movement, and René Redzepi particularly, reacted to this by weaving stories through dish descriptions more and more, tying brief histories into mouthfuls – ‘A dish of grilled pike with last year’s pickles’, as another example. For me, this still doesn’t go far enough. I strive to unshackle food as a medium only able to communicate immediately to its constituent parts. Beyond antiquity, modern-art history is strewn with great painters like Carl Plansky who made their own pigments to make their own art. And while we appreciate that, we don’t revel solely in the quality of their colours, but in their ability to compound meaning with them. I strive to, one day, without having to eschew one bit of what I’ve learned about seasonality, quality or ethics, do the same with food. MOMO: Is there a Canadian dish you always miss when abroad? DZ: Canada is a mashup of cultures. It’s a rich country for gastronomy but not in the way France or Mexico or Japan is rich. In lacking a deep edible cultural history of its own, Canadian food has come to be whatever all the immigrants who come to Canada choose to cook, and how they reinterpret their own culinary histories. That said, yes, I miss Jamaican patties like ya dunno. MOMO: What’s the importance of creating a dining experience? DZ: What you put in your mouth is not the be-all and end-all of dining. While flavour and deliciousness are one of the biggest contributing factors to how you remember the meals you’ve eaten, it’s not actually what you’re remembering. In the media and pop culture, we usually talk about genes like lines of code in Visual Basic that tell a computer program what shape to spit out on a screen. But in reality, most genes are actually polygenes, strips of code in different locations, hodgepodged together to elicit some phenotypic effect.
In restaurants it’s the same thing. You can talk about how delicate the brown-butter soufflé was on the palate, but truly, you’d be remiss not to mention the temperature of the room, the smell of the leather banquette, the weight of the cutlery, the lighting outside at the time of day or the feel of the wooden table on your arms as you ate… The experience of eating is informed by countless unconscious minutiae. Fine dining is not just fine food; it’s the attention to detail that accumulates in a long trail to create something bigger than the sum of each part. Striving for excellence in restaurants is expending an inordinate amount of time fretting about details that no one will notice. And I love it. MOMO: Can you pair photographs and dishes? DZ: I think you can. And I also think it can be extremely tacky. Art and food have never made for successful, and especially not seamless, bedfellows. There are a few chefs in history who’ve attempted it, Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena being a personal hero for how deftly and far he pushes it. I have a few ideas on how it could be achieved, but I’d like to play those cards a little close to my chest. MOMO: What is the essence for you of being a chef? DZ: At this level, it’s an all-encompassing way of life. Any time I eat out, I’m analysing the details of the establishment I’d be expected to pick up second-nature at noma. Any time I go for a hike, I find myself picking weeds up off the ground and eating the terrain of whatever place I’m in. It becomes a Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art, like total war, that requires all parts of your corporeal economy to focus on the front.
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A LOVER OF STORIES Animations, installations and works on panel – all her work, says artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, is an extension of her ‘drawing language’. Words: Yvette Greslé
Who are these figures that, displaced from any fixed sense of place and time, perform intriguing bodily movements and gestures, the significance of which can only be imagined? A figure cradles something in an arm – a mass composed of angular, uneven shapes that some may connect to other works within Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s oeuvre. The relationship between skin, clothing or even an abstracted visual vocabulary of substances aligned to the natural world (earth, sky or water) are ambiguous in her work. Sunstrum’s art-making enters into rich dialogues with mythological, literary, cinematic, art-historical and scientific narratives. The relationship between the female body, the natural world and the idea of landscape is paramount in her work. Each of us will, of course, interpret the work from the basis of our own social and cultural reference points. These may traverse multiple geographical and historical
sites, and cross time zones and hemispheres. Of her interest in the relationship between human figures and mountains, Sunstrum says, ‘For me it’s important, in thinking about the process of looking at the figures and the landscapes, that they suggest or insist on some kind of meaning and some kind of specificity but, at the same time, I allow for meaning to be filled in. Certainly, there are a lot of references in my work and I’m interested in 18thcentury philosophers and notions of the sublime. There’s something about a mountain and the act of experiencing it with your body that makes you understand your smallness. The beauty of these epic landscapes is a reminder of our fragile existence.’ Sunstrum may speak of fragility and yet in her works the figures emerge from the earth as presences that are aligned, throughout the history of humanity, with notions
of fertility, birth and (in a more abstract and philosophical sense) creativity. Process and medium are closely related in Sunstrum’s work. Her drawings and mixed-media works explore a range of media including pencil, ink, watercolour, gold leaf and gouache; they encompass works on paper and wood panel. When she begins thinking about a work, she says, she almost always begins with drawing. Within the artist’s studio, drawing may function as a ritual that initiates processes of exploration and experimentation. When she first began to pursue art-making, however, she began with a practice of writing. ‘I would give myself a few minutes just to write ideas – or no ideas. It was an act of putting pen and pencil to paper and letting ideas and thoughts come out. This was just a tool I used to get over that fear you feel every time you step into the studio.’
She recalls how she began to talk to a mentor about her writing process and he told her, ‘Well, writing is useful, and I can see how that’s useful to you, but have you thought about incorporating a daily drawing practice?’ Sunstrum brought this suggestion to her art-making. ‘I still do a lot of writing. I also read. And I think that’s where a lot of the mythological and scientific references feed into the work. But making a drawing every day, whatever form that takes, is really at the heart of my practice. Even though work starts to take other forms, for example, the animations, installations and works on panel, I still think of all the work as an extension of this drawing language.’ She adds, ‘In thinking about how drawing came out of the writing, I realise that I’ve always been a lover of stories. The kinds of stories that I’ve always loved have been our common myths. Throughout the world and throughout time
we all seem to have this interest in heroes or heroines, and the quests that these figures embark on. ‘We can also imagine ourselves as heroes or heroines, and our own experiences as filled with meaning. I started to allow my work to be a place for developing these stories.’
Recent exhibitions and performances: Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen 2016; Tiwani Contemporary, London 2016; FRAC pays de Loire, France 2013; the Havanna Biennial, Cuba 2012; MoCADA, United States 2011 Visit: gallerymomo.com
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Sasha Huber and Petri Saarikko, ‘The Incantation of the Disquieting Muse’. © 2016, Hannes Wiedemann.
THE RAW MATERIALISATION OF KNOWLEDGE: EPISTEMIC DISSENT AS ATTITUDE 21
Situated in a former crematorium in Berlin, Savvy Contemporary is a must-visit for art, performances and talks that challenge accepted narratives and power relations. Its founder, Cameroon-born Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, tells MOMO The Magazine what makes this space an intersection between art, technology, politics, social sciences and the everyday.
Bonaventure Ndikung likes a mental detour. This ability to connect and reconnect the dots may be as a result of his studies: a PhD in biotechnology. It may equally be the result of ‘the beaten and unbeaten tracks, as well as the ones we staggered on and stumbled upon’ as he’s walked to the door of the organisation that he founded in 2009. In his words, ‘Savvy Contemporary is an art space, discursive platform, eating and drinking spot, and njangi house.’ He shares with us the ‘anecdotes, references and concepts’ that frame his practices across the sciences and arts and his understanding of curating as a process of knowledge production, negotiation and dissemination. Process of erasure ‘I have chosen to start off with a guy who you might or might not know. I would like to spare a few words on and about Anton Wilhelm Amo,
born in the early 1700s in what is in exploring what Haitian academic today Ghana, and taken as a child and anthropologist Trouillot calls slave to Holland and later Germany. ‘‘silencing the past’’, and how Amo Treated as a member of his owner- has been more or less wiped from patron’s family, Amo gained an Germany’s history of philosophy.’ education and went on to study law, languages, logic, metaphysics, Collecting the Zeitgeist physiology, astronomy, history, the- ‘Abbia was a seminal postcolonial ology, politics and medicine. By the culture and art review founded in mid 1730s, and using his preferred Cameroon in 1963, with the aim of name of Antonius Guilelmus Amo situating culture as a cornerstone Afer, he had produced major phil- in nation-building after the fight osophical works that stand next to for independence from the colonial the acclaimed texts of contempo- enterprises of France and England. raries such as Immanuel Kant or The passage below is from Bernard David Hume. It is said that after Fonlon’s introduction to the first the death of his patron, increased Abbia review (1963), and it set the racism in Germany forced him to tone for the 20 years, 40 volumes, flee to West Africa, where he died 5 500 pages of what was to become in the late 1750s. a comprehensive and prolific Pan‘I mention Amo because, firstly, I African endeavour, with contriam interested in the fact that despite butions from African thinkers all all the evidence, Germany, German over Africa, Asia, the Americas and politicians and intelligentsia hardly Europe.’ want to acknowledge that Germany has a migration history. Secondly, I … now and again, each community am interested in processes of erasure, throws up, from among its masses,
Savvy Contemporary in Berlin.
individuals with special gifts of head and heart and hand, individuals who, because they see farther and deeper into themselves and into their world, individuals who, because they feel more keenly, more rudely, the thrill of communal joy, the shock of communal tragedy, individuals who, because they are gifted with language of lasting beauty, become, as it were, the mouthpiece of the Zeitgeist.
the establishment of an appropriate brought more than a dozen volumes context within which their thoughts to Savvy Contemporary to archive, and deeds can blossom, but also digitise, and make them situated someone who can create a nexus and accessible for research within between such individuals, as well an art space.’ as between their works – that made me become an exhibition maker. A culture of selectivity ‘Secondly, I remember reading ‘What I am talking of is the culture these words by Bernard Fonlon as of selective referencing, the culture a teenager, when I first stumbled of selective canonisation, the culture on this pile of Abbia reviews in my of legitimisation – of who reserves father’s library – not because I was the right to legitimise and who does ‘I have chosen to point out Abbia for particularly interested in culture, get legitimised. Thus, as much as two personal reasons, which I’d like but because I observed the way he we cite references from scholarship to share with you. The first is the revered these journals, and the way circles, we also cultivate what we fact that I have always been attracted the review itself commanded some call the “academia of the fireside”, to and always sought the company form of respect. Some 20 years later, ie, all those stories, folktales, recof people who possess such gifts after I had founded the art space itations narrated around the fireside of head, heart and hand, who see called Savvy Contemporary, I went as our own legitimate sources of farther and deeper, who feel more back to Cameroon in search of these reference. The idea hereby is not keenly and eventually become the Abbias, just to find that almost no to create another/parallel canon, mouthpiece of the Zeitgeist. It is the one in my generation had heard of but to decanonise the notion of the sheer proximity to such individu- them, and that the country didn’t canon as a whole. So by choosing als, and the recognition that even care to set up an archive for such embodied practices as mediums and with all their brilliance, they too an important publication. It is for formats of discourse and knowledge, need a punchball or mirror, a care- this reason that I plundered what we delink from the conventional taker – as in someone who facilitates was left of my father’s library and referencing phenomena and propose 23
a more phenomenological approach to dealing with history, memory and knowledge at large. ‘It is for this reason that Savvy Contemporary sees itself as a performative space, on the one hand because it is a space in a constant state of becoming, but on the other hand it is a space that explores philosophical concepts of the embodied mind as understood, since time immemorial, in many non-Western philosophies – thus acknowledging that human cognition is not only shaped by the brain but encompassed in the body that performs cognitive tasks like conceptualisation, reasoning and judgment, and also through interactions with the environment or the world at large. ‘Unlearning here is not forgetting, it is not deletion, cancellation nor burning off. It is writing bolder and writing anew. It is commenting and questioning. It is giving new footnotes to old and other narratives. It is the wiping off of the dust,
clearing of the grass, and cracking off the plaster that lies above the erased. Unlearning is flipping the coin and awakening the ghosts. Unlearning is looking in the mirror and seeing the world, rather than a concept of universalism or any form of hegemony.’
Top: Zbigniew Libera (left) and Tomás Rafa (right), group exhibition, ‘Everything is Getting Better’. © 2017, India Roper-Evans. Above: Savvy Contemporary founder Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. © 2016, Abrie Fourie. Opposite: Nathalie Mba Bikoro, ‘Unlearning the Given’. © 2016, Lee Edward.
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INSIGHT: ZEITZ MOCAA
Since it was first announced in late 2013, Cape Townâ€™s much-anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) has drawn significant attention for what it represents: the first large-scale museum on the continent dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. It goes without saying that a complex cultural institution on this scale requires a dedicated and focused team of collaborators operating behind the scenes to ensure that the museum spaces are running smoothly, filled with cutting-edge, relevant and engaging content. MOMO The Magazine introduces four of them. Words: Tim Leibbrandt Photographs: Rizqua Barnes
Gcotyelwa Mashiqa – AKO Foundation assistant curator: Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography ‘We’re the core of the museum,’ says Gcotyelwa Mashiqa. ‘Without us as curators and content makers, there wouldn’t be a museum.’ It’s always been Mashiqa’s dream to work as a curator in a cultural institution, and her journey to her current position came about through the museum’s curatorial training programme a year ago. ‘I came from a theoretical background and the programme was surprisingly practicalbased,’ she says. ‘I quickly found that theoretical knowledge alone wasn’t enough to solve the problems.’ Mashiqa believes that museums are a reflection of the culture of a particular nation and its people. ‘I’ve always been fascinated by them, even though the ones that were usually available to me were old natural-sciences museums filled with dead things. I’ve always wondered who makes those decisions about what goes on display.’ Her desire for museums to be living spaces of inclusion was ignited when she came across an artefact called the Ghost Dance Shirt in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. ‘The museum didn’t know the provenance of the object, but someone saw this piece of shirt and recognised its original owners. I liked the process of bringing the custodians of that culture into the museum. What was so interesting was that people were consulted from that culture, and were then part of the exhibit, to such an extent that whenever they would have rituals, they borrowed the shirt. I love the fact that the community was brought into the space through that object.’ With Zeitz MOCAA, she says, there’s a similar mission of making the space accessible to the broader community. And, as assistant curator of photography, it falls to her to develop exhibitions at the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography that achieve this goal. Ellen Kondowe – assistant registrar ‘My role at the museum is to grease the wheels,’ quips Ellen Kondowe. Serving ‘behind the scenes of the behind-the-scenes’, Kondowe and the Collections Management Depart-
ment ensure that everything is in place for the museum to operate efficiently. She liaises between the museum’s six separate institutions: the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography, the Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice and the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute. Kondowe joined Zeitz MOCAA as assistant curator of costume, before shifting trajectories. ‘My primary passion has always been to work as a conduit or mediator within art, culture and costume,’ she says, ‘and in the assistant-registrar position I get to work across the disciplines of all six institutions housed within the museum. I get to engage with the artists, curators, donors and stakeholders, all within this one role.’ Her responsibilities are about making sure that the resources and materials are there to make their job easier, she elaborates. ‘I support the curators: if they have an exhibition in mind, I organise the logistics of it. I draft the forms for loans and acquisitions. If there’s shipping of an exhibition from another international institution, I organise the logistics there too. I provide reports about the condition of artworks, about climate control, and about the museum’s storage and conservation capabilities.’ As a result of the supporting nature of her position, Kondowe finds herself doing vastly different things from day to day. At this particular moment, her focus is on installations. ‘I’m running around coordinating installers, gallerists and artists, overseeing installations, making sure that the works actually arrive at the museum, and that they’re hung according to the wishes of the collectors, artists, galleries and curators.’ Working with all the museum’s divisions ensures that Kondowe is consistently on her toes. ‘Each institution requires specialised approaches for its idiosyncratic archival challenges. Works on paper require particular strategies for long-term conservation. For something in costume, you have to take into consideration the textiles and the composition, what it can be exposed to, how you store it.
‘We’re the core of the museum.’ Something like digital media or a video installation will need to be backed up on three servers and off site.’ The position has re quire d Kondowe to become intimately familiar with each work in the museum’s various collections. ‘There’s provenance to every single work. You have to be able to trace the story of the artwork before entering the museum. You need to know about the artist, its origins in a gallery, which exhibitions it’s been included in, right up to the work’s journey through different collectors, institutions, and the primary and secondary markets. That falls to me to research.’ Gontse Mathabathe – AfriSam curator of digital platforms Art historian, critic and writer, G ontse Mathabathe’s position requires her to develop and curate all the museum’s digital platforms, from social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) to the museum’s website. ‘It’s about ensuring that all the museum’s various platforms are accessible, and reflect the African diasporic art production that’s happening in the best way possible,’ she explains. ‘That’s what this museum is about.’ Mathabathe developed an interest in curating and the writing aspect of art during her third year of tertiary study. ‘Since then, I’ve always wanted to be part of some institution that builds an art industry, especially in Africa. I don’t think it’s worth going elsewhere.’ Currently, her primary focus is on developing the three different audioguides on handheld devices that will be freely available to the museum’s visitors: an art tour, an architecture tour and an educational tour. ‘Each device can be used by up to two people, and there’ll be about 20 stops for each tour, ranging from the atrium to a specific artwork,
to upstairs in the sculpture garden, temporary exhibitions that come and any other interesting aspects from workshops, panel discussions and interaction with the public in between.’ The educational tour is tar- about social issues that might geted at school groups, she says. seem a bit taboo for some people,’ ‘We’re going to have a dedicated Gcina explains. ‘I see the creative industry as art-education centre where we’ll have programming and activities an ecosystem with different compfor schoolchildren, and the audio onents that are separate but intertour will help children to navigate connected,’ he continues, observing that the collaborative nature of his through the space.’ The art tour is mostly for adults, work at Zeitz MOCAA was a natubut there’s nothing stopping an adult ral progression of his fondness for and a child doing it together, she interconnectivity. ‘We work very says. ‘It will focus on the artworks much as a team. The curatorial team on display, the stories behind the will meet every day to discuss issues artworks, and the curatorial inten- between the different departments, but also to speak holistically about tions that come with them.’ The architecture tour will be for exhibitions. No one is excluded; we visitors who’re interested in the silo discuss all issues together.’ When conceptualising an exhibibuilding itself, in terms of both its current redesign by Heatherwick tion, Gcina considers it crucial that Studios and its historic role at the the curators consult voices that offer a perspective on the exhibition conheart of the city’s waterfront. The audio tours will allow audi- tent coming from lived experience. ences to meaningfully curate their ‘The curators – even those from the own guided tour of the museum. other departments – need to partici‘This will be a virtual aspect that pate in workshops with civil-society will allow visitors to be independent organisations. For example, if we and to explore spaces on their own, do an exhibition about gender and but in a guided way,’ Mathabathe sexuality, it would have to be an organisation such as [sex-worker explains. While the audio tours were advocacy taskforce] SWEAT or initially conceptualised as an app, Sonke Gender Justice because they the team decided to move away interact with people on the ground. from that idea on the grounds that We need their information and it would ostracise visitors without knowledge in order to write and smartphones, and also violate the speak about the exhibitions from museum’s policy of access for all. an informed position.’ This same approach is extended ‘The audio will be available online on our website, so if you do have a by the museum’s Centre for Curatorsmartphone or want to access that ial Excellence, the broader instituinformation offsite in your own tion under which the Curatorial Lab time, that will be available for you falls. ‘It’s very important for us to have stories by Africans, for Afrias well,’ says Mathabathe. cans, exhibited in Africa, because Sakhisizwe Gcina – AKO Foundation assistant we’re trying to address narratives that have been told by outsiders curator of special projects, Curatorial Lab, and exhibited in foreign countries Centre for Curatorial Excellence ‘What is a lab?’ muses Sakhisizwe without consideration of the lived Gcina. ‘It’s a site for experimentation. experience of groups and individuals You mix things together, it’s trial living on the continent. Obviously, and error, you write reports, you with contemporary contexts, it’s develop a methodology for how an important to show the evolution of African artwork from the “tribalidea could work.’ The curatorial lab at Zeitz istic” – and that’s a hugely probleMOCAA is envisioned as a highly matic term for me – to something ex p e r i m e n t a l g a l le r y h o u s i n g that’s aligned with current affairs dynamic and multidisciplinary on a global scale.’ work. ‘The intention of this space is to be more research-based, to develop ideas, but also to have 31
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
JOYS OF LIVING
A WALK IN THE PARKS Johannesburg’s prime urban-nesting space is in The Parks, the historic northern suburbs of Parktown North, Parkhurst, Parkwood, Parkview, Forest Town and Westcliff, with their established trees, cultural attractions and the city’s richest art district. Photographs: Siphiwe Mhlambi
A family zone, with plenty of good public and private schools on the doorstep, and sporting and cultural amenities aplenty, The Parks is a collection of gracious neighbourhoods on established, tree-lined streets where you can take your pick of restaurants and bars, upmarket shops and quirky boutiques; and there’s no shortage of weekend markets, hipster coffee hangouts or the co-working spaces that have become such a trademark feature of modern city life. This peaceful suburban oasis lies conveniently close to what makes Joburg hum: the two major arteries of Jan Smuts Avenue and Oxford Road. The Parks is perfectly positioned between, to the south, the Afropolitan vibe of the historic Johannesburg city centre; and the powerhouse financial and business centre of the farnorthern suburbs, where in the shiny glass skyscraper district of Sandton the construction crane has long
supplanted the blue crane as the national bird. Central to The Parks is one of Jozi’s favourite green spaces. Zoo Lake and its surrounding parkland, which was donated in 1904 by a group of Randlords (mining magnates) who specified that it should be a ‘park for the people’, has always been a place where all races, cultures and creeds gather. A popular spot for picnics, dog-walking and boatrides, it has an info centre, sports club and restaurant, and is the venue for the annual Jazz on the Lake and Carols by Candlelight events, and the monthly Artists under the Sun open-air art exhibition. The internationally accredited Johannesburg Zoo, just across Jan Smuts Avenue, houses over 300 species of animals, and The Parks residents settling down to sleep for the night may be treated to the faint bushveld sounds of lions roaring and hyenas cackling. The Zoo precinct includes the fascinat-
ing Ditsong Museum of Military History. If you’re an early riser you’ll be struck by the pace of life in The Parks. As the sun creeps out of hiding, the dog walkers, runners, joggers, amblers and cyclists take to the streets. The public tennis courts are busy, the squash centre is packed, and you can faintly hear the tee-off times being called out on the 18-hole parklands Parkview Golf Course. Weaving a path around and through the traffic, both human and vehicle, are the waste-pickers who head from the city to the suburbs and back in the early mornings and evenings, hauling immense sacks on trolleys filled with the recyclable bits and pieces of more affluent urban lifestyles. Historically, these suburbs emerged as a home for the less wealthy relatives of the city’s Randlords, who built their mansions up on Parktown Ridge from the early 1890s. Sir Herbert Baker, a British-
Clockwise from top left: ‘Broadlands’, an Art Deco apartment block, is one of a number of heritage buildings; ‘the coolest barber shop in Joburg’, Bonafide Barbers in Parkhurst; a leisurely weekend stroll punctuated by a browse through a book store; lovingly restored and locally manufactured fine furniture at Modernist in Parkhurst; Zoo Lake with its boat house and ducks has outdoor appeal whatever the season.
born archite ct and protégé of empire-builder Cecil John Rhodes, was invited to design many of these splendid residences, and some still stand in Parktown and Westcliff. While most of the houses in The Parks perhaps can’t compare to the grandeur of those on the ridge, many of the suburbs’ old colonials t y l e h o u s e s a re n o n e t h e l e s s remarkable for their provenance. Many have been thoughtfully and tastefully renovated, their owners keeping charming touches such as pressed- steel ceilings, ornate skirtings and wooden floors, while introducing modern must-haves like open-plan spaces and expanses of double-glazed glass. Along the main thoroughfares, many residential homes have given way to corporate developments. The sad loss of some of the more interesting architectural pieces is partly compensated for by the fact that this urban development has given Parktown North in particular one of the most attractive qualities of modern urban life: walkability. The Parks offer a haven from the snappy busyness of Johannesburg life, with a village lifestyle revolving around family and friends, outdoor activities, shopping at boutiques, delis and food markets as opposed to malls, and gathering at local coffee shops, restaurants and art galleries. It’s a far cry from the modest beginnings of these suburbs but the city fathers who envisaged the central park as a gathering place for a representative of the city’s demographics would probably approve.
‘... urban development has given Parktown North in particular one of the most attractive qualities of modern urban life: walkability.’ – Africa for Africans In 2013 Africa.com measured ‘livable cities’ with a list that aggregated data primarily from African sources to remove a western bias. Johannesburg came in fourth after Cape Town, Accra and Nairobi. Standouts were its manmade forest and its status as a base of many African companies to reach the world.
– The walk score The Walk Score is a measure of walkability that analyses hundreds of walking routes to amenities, allocating points based on the distance to each. The highest number of points is given to amenities within a five-minute walk (0,5 km), while anything falling outside of a 30-minute walk gets no points, giving sprawling cities like Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Sao Paolo a tough time. In a rough study, Parktown North got a score in the ‘very walkable’ range.
– The Mercer rankings The Mercer is a leading scoring metric for measuring the quality of life in cities. The factors evaluated in the scoring process include political, social, education, transport and environmental elements. It ranks Johannesburg at 96 out of 231 cities, with Baghdad receiving the lowest ranking and Vienna the highest.
– The rise of Egoli Johannesburg has a rapid heartbeat, a factor of its youth. Founded on a gold rush in 1886, its spirit is still defined by the promise of opportunity and the need to hustle. Long after the gold dust has settled, it’s that energy that has attracted people from across the continent and the globe to make this one of the world’s most uniquely diverse cities. Landlocked – and often defined as the world’s largest city not built on a coastline or waterway – and home to one of the world’s most impressive urban forests, Johannesburg is a rare mix, a complex cosmopolis with many worlds in one city. 35
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
THE COLLECTOR AS CUSTODIAN OF AFRICAN ART HISTORY Atose Aguele – art lover and MD of fuel company Avedia Energy – opened the doors of his private collection at his home in Cape Town for the first time to MOMO The Magazine. He talked to us about artworks of the African masters to up-and-coming artists, and why it’s important to collect locally. Words: Tim Leibbrandt Photographs: Kleinjan Groenewald
‘To be honest, I’ve never really seen around $100 and sold it two weeks Usually speaking in a calm, myself as a collector. I just love later on auction for $1 600, Aguele measured cadence, there’s an audithe work.’ It’s a glorious Saturday realised that he was on to something. ble sense of enthusiasm in Aguele’s morning and Atose Aguele is reflect- ‘Once I finished school, my luxury voice when he describes what most ing on his label of ‘art collector’. ‘I was art. I started collecting quite captivates him about a particular think the word collector, as far as early and never stopped.’ artwork. He pinpoints four qualities His collection quickly developed that draw him in: historical context, Africa is concerned, at least, is quite a new term. I see myself more as a a focus on modern African art. the unique biography of the artcustodian of art, because what you Sporting artworks by masters such ist, the craftsmanship, and a final see here represents part of African as Ben Enwonwu, Gerard Sekoto, ‘X factor’ that’s tricky to define. history. I don’t think one person Dumile Feni and Geoffrey Ernest ‘The work doesn’t leave your mind. can say that they own it. It belongs Mukasa, the walls of his family You go home, you’re sleeping, but to the continent and humanity in a home in Cape Town are adorned the work is in your head and you broader sense. I just see myself as with a veritable history lesson in the realise that you have to buy it.’ subject. ‘Culturally, I’m rooted in holding a trust.’ One of the most historically Aguele’s art journey began while Africa. That’s my consciousness, so significant works in his collection he was studying for a graduate degree I’m obviously drawn to Afrocentric is Enwonwu’s Portrait of a Lady. in economics at the University of work. I was drawn to early Nigerian ‘It reminds me of my mother and Delaware in the USA, where he masters like Ben Enwonwu but even aunts,’ Aguele muses. ‘Enwonwu would go to rummage sales with his early on I recognised that we had a comes from my mother’s area, so roommate. ‘He would go to look number of very good painters all immediately I almost recognise that at early-American furniture and I over the continent. Most collec- woman sitting there.’ And the date would go to look at paintings. You’d tors of African art tend to collect of the work’s completion conjures be shocked to see what people have just Nigerian pieces or pieces from a myriad questions. ‘The year 1967 abandoned in their basements,’ he the Congo, Ghana or South Africa. is 22 years after the Second World recalls. When he bought an 1897 I’ve accumulated artists from about War, when most African countries landscape by Harry McCord for 10 African countries.’ were still under colonial rule. So
Atose Aguele in his home in Cape Town. Paintings in the background: Bruce Onobrakpeya, ‘Untitled’, 1965 and Ben Enwonwu, ‘Dancers’, 1963.
El Anatsui, ‘Untitled’, 2002.
what was going through Enwonwu’s mind when he painted that piece?’ Another significant work in the collection is a wooden piece, a presuperstar-status work by seminal Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. ‘I bought it soon after he did it in 2003,’ Aguele recalls. ‘El Anatsui was a professor in Nigeria at the time and wasn’t quite as regarded as he is now. His work was unique; there was nobody doing anything like it. I was used to buying paintings, sculpture, but nothing like this. For me, it was an interesting way of the artist telling his own story.’ While Aguele’s collection leans heavily towards modern masters, a trip to a local art fair served to reignite his interest in work by emerging artists. ‘I’m more optimistic today than I’ve ever been about contemporary art,’ he says. ‘Three years ago, I was at the Cape Town Art Fair and I was blown away by what the young people were doing. I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Seeing work by people like Blessing Ngobeni, I realised that the young artists of today definitely still have the inspiration to create beautiful works.’ Examples of these are peppered throughout the house: a large piece by Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo, African Venus (2011), greets visitors at the front entrance, and a sculpture by Maurice Mbikayi lives among the African masters in the main viewing room. While Aguele is an avid follower of the secondary markets, he believes that African art is still severely undervalued. ‘It’s great to see what’s In Aguele’s view, these values going on and some of the record sales. Sotheby’s just had a sale of will continue to struggle until Afri£2.8 million, which is a record for cans themselves are afforded the African art collectively. Some of opportunity to participate in the these artists – Enwonwu, Sekoto, art market. ‘You can actually track Dumile Feni – are long deceased, but consumption patterns and standard truly represent the fathers of con- of living relative to art,’ he says. temporary African art. If you liken ‘When the Brazilians became quite them to the fathers of contemporary wealthy, prices of art increased. European or Asian art, you see that We’ve seen it recently in Asia, with Chinese artists getting record prices they’re still very undervalued.’
‘I don’t think one person can say that they own it… I just see myself as holding a trust.’
Geoffrey Mukasa, ‘Untitled’, 1990.
Cheri-Cherin, ‘Les pensionnaires des paradis artificiels’, 2011 .
– that’s a direct result of the new Characteristically searching for China. It shouldn’t be any different proactive solutions, Aguele recently for Africa. As much as Europeans established a foundation, Avedia, do collect African art, I think that aimed at fostering art education and in terms of value, the art speaks appreciation among young people. more to people on the continent or ‘One of the things we’re looking to to Africans in the diaspora. That do is to have a tour of some of the would obviously drive up the value masters – and not just masters from of the work ultimately.’ a particular country but, for examIncreased African participation ple, to get a Sekoto and an Enwonwu in the value chain will also have the and do a world tour of several cities effect of keeping significant works where we expose kids to some of on the continent. ‘I’m glad to see the these works, their history and their interest, with more people getting heritage. Obviously, people who live involved – not just in buying and in cities like London or New York selling but with the new museums or Cape Town are exposed to art. being built, traffic going through It’s really those who don’t have these museums and galleries, and that proximity to colle ctions or kids being exposed to African art. museums that we need to reach.’ Keeping these works on the continent isn’t just an emotional issue. If they remain on the continent, there’s a greater chance that more Africans will be exposed to them. If they sit in a house in Belgium, there’s nothing wrong with that but the art is then not exposed in that sense.’
‘I’m more optimistic today than I have ever been about contemporary art.’
Gerard Sekoto, ‘Portrait of a Boy’, 1963.
Ben Enwonwu, ‘Potrait of a Lady’, 1967.
THE NEW AVANTMOMO THE MAGAZINE
Marcelo Rezende is the director of the worldâ€™s biggest archive of 20th-century avant-garde art at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in Germany, due to open in 2019. MOMO The Magazine spoke to Rezende about the revival of the anti-museum and the history of radical ideas. Photographs: Luc Saalfeld, courtesy of Archiv der Avantgarden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
-GARDE From Bahia to Dresden, the director of the Archiv der Avantgarden, Marcelo Rezende.
Brazilian-born Marcelo Rezende, ‘This place of ours is not a museum; 1968, when the army put an end to who now splits his time between it should be called a movement, a the whole project, understood as Salvador, Bahia and Dresden, began process, a school’; she created the ‘subversive’. We reestablished the idea of the his career writing criticism for the notion of a museum-school, where Brazilian press, especially cine- the museum should be a machine museum-school and we promoted the return of the biennale after 46 ma, before expanding to literature to produce democracy. In my years as director, we years. And then all was demolished and art. A novelist, researcher and exhibition-maker, he is the director adopted as our mission putting the again, after another political coup... of a massive new collection, the museum back on its original track, to Archiv der Avantgarden, donated to not submit it to a supposed ‘right MOMO: You are now based in Dresden, Germany, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen way ’ of presenting exhibitions. working on the biggest collection of Dresden by internationally renowned The museum should be a Brazilian avant-garde art in the world. From expressmuseum of modern art, taking what ionism and futurism, to pop art and postcollector Egidio Marzona. our culture has and believes, and modernism, it offers an in-depth insight into We asked him… not trying to imitate a European or the history of the major art movements of North American museum. The Bahia the 20th century. What is its purpose? MOMO: The first two Brazilian art biennales were shut down for being ‘too controversial’. Biennale, organised by the museum, MR: The Archiv der Avantgarden, of underwent the same process: creat- which I am the director, was donated How did the 3rd Bahia Biennial, of which you were the director, reflect on this legacy? ing another way of thinking what a to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Marcelo Rezende: I was lucky biennale is. It wasn’t an exhibition, Dresden by Egidio Marzona. He told enough to have been the director it was a whole programme and me that giving the collection to the city is a way to give back to society of the Museum of Modern Art of process. The idea of the museum-school what belongs to society. It’s a way Bahia [from 2012 to 2015], which was created in 1959 to be an ‘anti- came to an end because of the to be faithful to the collection and museum’. The founder, Italian- Brazilian dictatorship established its ideas. The archive has 1,9 million pieces, Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, in 1964. The Bahia Biennale had wrote in the original programme, an edition in 1966 and a second in including documents, books, design 45
and artworks. What this ensemble has in common is the subject: the history of radical artistic ideas in the 20th century, from Russian supremacism during the revolution of 1917 to utopian design by German company Braun in the 1960s. It’s the reinvention of art, the school, the work, and all the utopias imagined in Europe and Latin America. Technology and digitalisation are part of the tools and the mission of this archive, but they ’re not the final answer to our questions: how can we establish coherence in this collection and build an antimuseum now? How do we showcase the ideas coming out of this collection, instead of just showing objects in the classical way? How can this archive be a tool for a new generation of artists, institutions and curators? How can this institution be faithful to the idea that there is nothing more avant-garde than democracy? Should we be a machine to produce democracy?
MOMO: The Archiv der Avantgarden is the world’s largest archive of 20th-century avant-garde items. Collected since the end of the 1960s, it comprises correspondence, manifestos, sketches and collages, posters, photographs and films, artist’s books, signed catalogues and journals, art works, sculptures, paintings and designer items. How do you work with such a massive archive? MR: Talking with donor and collector Egidio Marzona, we agreed that it was unsatisfactory to understand this collection and work with it following traditional ideas regarding the museum and its relationship with society. So, as important as having the pieces of the collection exhibited, was to think about strategies to bring the ideas from the collection to face our present problems and troubles; the question became how to showcase the archive. We are still working on possible answers but there are some ideas we want to keep in mind. We need to learn how to open the archive, to offer other narratives, because an archive
is never about the past, but about possible answers to the present. There is a distinction between the idea of repetition and reprise. In repetition we go back to something left behind; we run in the direction of the past. In reprise, we go back to something left behind and run in the direction of the future. The Archiv der Avantgarden should be an institution able to promote a reprise. MOMO: What is a ‘history of radical ideas’? MR: The Marzona collection in the Archiv der Avantgarden is not only a collection of art objects and its documentation. The archive has its focus in many different fields: education, urbanism, working- class press, underground magazines and even the documentation on the BaaderMeinhof activities. So, we are talking about many different processes of radical change in society, from aesthetic to plain revolutionary. What is fascinating is that, in the majority of cases, we are talking about the
same project. Art historians tend to forget that the surrealists had as their main goal to take the state in their hands and to change the way we live. They tend to forget that Beuys was part of the anti-authoritarian movement in Germany, and tried to be a candidate for the Green Party; or that Yves Klein wrote a letter to the president of the United States, to convince him to create a bomb to literally colour the world blue. These are political radical ideas, not only objects, artists and exhibitions.
this takes time... Nowadays, we are experiencing a lot of similarities to the 1930s: the return of fascism, the increasing gap between upper and lower class, the end of the middle class... A permanent feeling that all the â€˜ismsâ€™ have already happened, and now what is happening is a return to the old order. In the 1930s the end of the story was a tragedy. Now, we are waiting for a new beginning. In art as in politics; they are Siamese twins.
MOMO: What does avant-garde art mean as a concept today? MR: This is complicated and has a lot of different meanings so I will give one that makes sense to me and this new institution: avant-garde means to stop a destructive process in society, to put an end to it, in order to have a renewal; then the new becomes the old; and then avant-garde comes around again to put an end to it. But sometimes, 47
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
GOVERNMENTS IN GLASS HOUSES... TRANSPARENCY AND THE AFRICAN GOVERNMENT Two transparent structures in Ouagadougou and Johannesburg housing seats of government symbolise a radical shift in the status quo of political power on the African continent, attempting through the use of creative spaces to respond to the emergence of a new type of African who looks to new ways of living in which all people have access to all aspects of society. Words: Philippa Tumubiweinee Photographs: Tristan McLaren
In the face of mounting uprisings, revolutions and social movements from the Cape to Cairo over the last decade, the idea of absolute power and authority of any given government is changing on the African continent. Amid continuous calls for better and more efficient systems of governance, coupled with increased participation on social-media platforms, Africans are demanding to be included in the decision-making processes that affect their daily lives. As such, the need for a new type of institutional architecture that is responsive to and reflective of a rapidly shifting modern society is inevitable. The notion that a glass house can accommodate a seat of government brings to the fore a new architectural trend that is ostensibly socially, culturally and politically responsive. The making transparent of government buildings extends through architectural design the core function of these seats of governance
to actively include the broader communities they serve. This idea of transparency is demonstrated in the design proposal for the Burkina Faso National Assembly and Memorial Park in Ouagadougou by Diébédo Francis Kéré, and in the newly completed New Johannesburg Council Chambers in South Africa designed by Pierre Swanepoel of StudioMAS. Both buildings symbolise a radical shift in the status quo of political power. Kéré’s proposal for the new National Assembly building in Ouagadougou was the result of a civil revolution that saw ordinary Burkinabe overturn almost three decades of dictatorial rule, while in Johannesburg, the New Council Chambers is, one could argue, a deviation away from apartheid-era architecture, which was intended to be dominant and exclusive for a select group of people, towards an architecture that is inclusive and embraces all people in democratic South Africa.
In the Burkina Faso National Assembly building, the tree is used as a symbolic reference to a place of gathering and communal decisionmaking, while the idea of the lekgotla (village assembly) and the African drum are represented in the Johannesburg Council Chambers. In their representations, both buildings proclaim the need for transparency in government, and the inclusion and recognition of African-centred knowledge systems, symbols and traditions as alternatives to the Eurocentric trends that dominate the representation of these buildings on the continent and globally. Burkina Faso National Assembly and Memorial Park In October 2014, the Burkinabe uprisings formed the backbone of a revolution that was organised by civil society as a series of demonstrations and riots, and spread through several cities in Burkina Faso. The uprisings were
Vision for the new parliament building in Burkina Faso. The tree is used as a symbolic reference to a place of gathering and communal decision-making. Images by KĂŠrĂŠ Architecture.
Johannesburg’s new Council Chambers overlooks the inner city.
in response to attempts by former not obviously in his recognisable president Blaise Compaoré to extend simple and unpretentious style but his almost three-decades-long rule which did bring the traditions of the by changing the constitution. The Burkinabe community into what is uprising resulted in the desertion the most important building in the of the president and the destruction country. The arbre à palabres, or tree of several government buildings in Ouagadougou, one of which was of discussion, sits adjacent to the the National Assembly building. main assembly chambers in a priThis destruction was arguably an vate garden. Visible to the public act of violence against symbols of through the transparent facade, a government that was perceived as the tree reinforces the Burkinabe being representative of established tradition of decision-making under hierarchies of power and not the a tree in full view of the community. Like the canopy of the tree, the zigpeople. The transitional government gurat structure shelters the National that was subse quently forme d Assembly chambers. Terraced green invited internationally acclaimed platforms offer public spaces on Berlin-based architect Diébédo which the community can gather and Francis Kéré, who happens to be ‘observe’ the decision-making pronative to Burkina Faso, to propose a cesses taking place. The platforms design for a new National Assembly also house agricultural plots as a celbuilding. Kéré, who has gained a ebration of the Burkinabe tradition reputation for his creative people- of subsistence farming, while at the centred approach, proposed a design same time allowing for the possibilifor the 127-seat National Assembly ty to showcase innovative methods of and adjacent Memorial Park that was sustainable-agriculture practices.
In a typical Kéré gesture, the design proposal was intensively workshopped in and with communities in Ouagadougou, locating the proposal in the zeitgeist of the time and in response to the needs of society. This process sparked public debate and allowed the Burkinabe to appropriate and claim for themselves a place in the seat of power in Burkina Faso. The architectural design proposal for the Burkina Faso National Assembly was exhibited at the 2016 International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, the theme of which was ‘Reporting from the Front’. Curated by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Alejandro Aravenabe, the exhibition was an investigation into the role of architects in the battle to improve the living conditions for people all over the world. Kéré Architecture contributed a design report on government architecture and its accommodation of society, and how architects and architecture can resolve or alleviate the issue.
New Johannesburg Council Chambers Completed in May of this year by StudioMAS, the New Johannesburg Council Chambers, sited on top of Braamfontein koppie (hill), is an open and inclusive public space in which people interact freely with the city’s seat of governance. This is in stark contrast with apartheid-era institutional architecture, which was characterised by its closed, exclusive and imposing nature. In a city where a collection of European styles – Cape-Dutch, Victorian, Art Deco and more recently Tuscan – has come to dominate, the cylindrical form of the Council Chambers, which references both the circular lekgotla and the African drum, has introduced a new style of architecture. The curved glass facade allows for a direct visual connection between the council and the city, with council members looking out over the metropolis, and the city looking into the chambers while council is in session. The symbolism in this dual transparency talks to the aspiration of the government to form an irrevocable connection between the Johannesburg Metro Council and the city it governs. The gold fins repeated as lines within the reflection of the city on the facade exposes the connection and celebration of Johannesburg’s history of and association with the precious metal. A centralised service core elevates the building, lifting it clear of the ground and exposing its concrete vaulted underbelly. The People’s Square, the public viewing area, is separated from the adjacent chambers by a perimeter lap pool, which serves as a passive security measure while at the same time softening the beautifully harsh and brutal concrete-work of the underbelly and service core. The public gallery is accessed via an internal stoa (covered walkway) that winds up three storeys, at every level taking in a different view of the city of Johannesburg. Lining the stoa are 134 totems, made from indigenous kiaat wood and designed by a community member from every ward in the Metro of Johannesburg, speaking to the Tswana tradition of bringing into the lekgotla a representation of the collective.
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I’M NOT INSECURE, JUST SENSITIVE TO DESIGN Canadian-born Garth Roberts trained as an industrial designer but later became involved in many other related areas, including furniture design, housewares and interiors. He tends to instil the irony of European design into the straightforward approach of North American culture, a cross-disciplinary tactic guided by a delicately balanced tension between pure materials and essential forms. Roberts, who founded the concept-driven design collective Group Inc, divides his time between New York, Milan and Berlin as the principal of garth studio. MOMO The Magazine sent him some questions and he responded… Photographs: Garth Roberts Opposite: Garth Roberts in Mabeo blanket.
MOMO: What drew you to being a designer? Garth Roberts: For me, art is something that represents a pure creativity. It’s a forced marriage between personal experience and a generally perceived idea. Personally, I need art in my diet as much as I need politics and technology. MOMO: Given your gift of the gab and humour, how do they translate into your design language? GR: In some ways being a designer is like being a DJ. I see my work as a remix of inspiration. It’s where elements of fashion, music and art meet. Art is probably the most important part of this creativity cocktail, the thread that holds it all together. MOMO: How do everyday life situations reflect in your design? Do you collect situations through the visuality that draws you to the situation – like the black Noah? How do you translate that into design? GR: Design is not only a colorant to everyday life, it’s also informed by everyday life. In a way, it’s a perpetual circle. I’m sensitive to this colour, and I like to document it in photos. I’m not talking amateur photography; I mean basic snapshots of a moment. I just started using Instagram, but prior to that, I was storing these moments as a perpetual library of images on the hard drive. Some I never look at more than once, but the process of taking the images gives them importance in my memory. MOMO: Do you have design elements that are important to you, that you repeat in different objects? Something that has inspired you in a special way? Objects that fascinate you? GR: In the process of designing, there’s a portion that exorcises my creative demons. It scratches that itch that I can’t reach.
MOMO: What do collaborations with other designers and the exchange of cultural significance mean to you – especially given the fact that you are from Canada, living in Germany/Italy? GR: Collaboration is a big word, especially in design. How can you share something that is a personal experience? How do you put enough into a task to feel contribution? The cultural part of design is somewhat ambiguous in this period of creativity: things are visually digested so fast; people are local to almost anywhere. It’s harder to validate the merits of collaboration than in the past. Is collaboration merely used as a marketing tool or is it an endeavour to save time and effort for a given process? MOMO: Where do you find irony in Germany/ Berlin regarding language and design? GR: To best respond to this question let’s look at ‘irony’ by definition. I mean, irony has many states but let’s assume we’re referring to dramatic irony for this case in point. So, dramatic irony defined is ‘a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character’. I find this irony in German design because there’s a lot of talk about creativity and design but, tragically, the rationality applied to the process and the cultural norms combine with this talk to result in stagnant results. In some ways, the culture refuses to embrace the uncertainty that’s typically associated with creativity. And it seems they still don’t get my offhand Martin Luther jokes because they still say, ‘Not that Martin Luther, the other one,’ to my punchlines. MOMO: How was the experience to work with top Italian brands? GR: My relationship with Italy has been akin to a Hollywood experience. I arrived naïve, as if born yesterday, but I stayed up all night trying to understand how things worked. The Italian culture is one filled with formality and elegance. At the same time, the rituals seem imposed on very basic and simple people.
MOMO: What are you working on now? GR: Actually, I’m trying to work less and get paid for doing so. Design is my passion and getting paid to do it takes a lot of the fun out of it for me. Right now, I’m cooking up some possibilities in rattan with a Japanese brand. I’m also understanding if I have more to express in the way of rugs. My cc-tapis collaboration that resulted in the ‘after party’ rug has been well received and we’d like to expand on this positive energy. I continue a regular creative direction for Kalmar Werkstaetten, the Austrian lighting brand that has become one of those chic and sophisticated lighting manufacturers, and experiments with Mabeo Furniture from Botswana that’s redefining the perception of modern African aesthetic and manufacturing. Despite the fact that I’m about as African as peanut butter and as Austrian as a kebab, I’m glad to be able to collaborate closely with Mabeo and Kalmar. My relationship with these two companies is quite significant. MOMO: What is the premise of your thinking and design process? What is the process from the thought/inspiration to the finished product? How realistic are they? Have you done designs that are just not translatable into an actual object? How different is the ‘raw material’ to the end product? GR: When working, I try to stay away from formulae in my process. I aim to find an interesting mindset/ approach for each endeavour, then let the project develop with as little rational interference as possible. Nothing is set in stone, and the openness leaves ample opportunities for the unexpected. My ‘raw material’ is usually something quite personal and emotional: a mood, a sensation, an instinctive association to a situation. The end product is a physical metaphor for that intangible material, a medium I use to share the sensation. Can this end up like a bad Google translation? Yes. It’s not foolproof. Is it even possible to give form to something so elusive? Am I vain to think that the things that I create can have that universal communication?
MOMO: What do you think of the ‘form follows function’ concept? What comes first in the process – the form or the function? GR: I didn’t know [American architect and father of modernism] Louis Sullivan personally, so I can’t really assess whether or not he was citing bullshit. But I do see an importance in conveying an uncontrived message in a design. I also notice that function is an individual ideal: what is one person’s chair is another person’s generic wood block. Design doesn’t decide functionality; design just gives another option for those who share the point of view of the designer. MOMO: Are you a comedian? GR: To close the book on this question: yes, I am. I’m not sure who started this rumour but anyway I try to keep my personal life quite private. Not that it’s anyone’s business, I came out about two years ago, and still people love to succumb to the urge of asking the question to have that ‘get the scoop’ feeling. So now that it’s in print and everyone knows about who and what I really am… what now? Does it make me any less of a man? If you cut me, do I not bleed? ;) MOMO: Does design need to bring solutions? GR: Design solutions are a bit overrated. Is the generation of an idea enough to call something a design? Does a solution count if it’s temporary or generates unforeseen problems? MOMO: Your design is rather simple and sober in forms. German designer Dieter Rams says that less is better because it ‘concentrates on the essential aspects’. Would you agree? GR: Well, simple is as simple does. Is the work about the object or about the relationship of the object to reality? I try to maintain the spontaneity of idea in my work. I don’t want to clutter the message with signs of effort or contrived notions. I just want the object to convey to people to feel what I feel; or not to feel anything specific, just feel something.
Garth Roberts, ‘Juju side table’, 2016. © 2016 Serralunga.
Garth Roberts, ‘Fliegenbein BL’, 2014. © 2014 Andrea Ferrari.
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SIGHT AND SOUND Analogue audiophile, photographer, architecture lecturer and chronicler of city landscapes, Leon Krige grew up in apartheid-era Johannesburg but travelled outside of the country enough to be able to look back differently and start to see ‘the strangeness in things’. Photographs: Leon Krige Portrait of Leon Krige: Siphiwe Mhlambe
At his cosy fireplace on a cold Highveld winter day, Leon roasts coffee beans – it’s clear that he looks at the process of raw materials in many aspects of his life. While he philosophises about the special taste of coffee prepared and processed at home, we ask him… MOMO: What is it that interests you in vinyl and your specific audio system? Leon Krige: The very physical presence of analogue had its peak in the mid-1980s. Analogue repro duction was highly advanced but, in these particular components, it was also stripped to the bare minimum of aesthetic sentiment, a kind of minimalist audio functionalism. My cartridge is a custom rebuild by a wonderful man in the Netherlands, AJ Van den Hul, now in his mid-eighties. It was greatly re duce d in cost be cause it’s a rebuilt unit – I love this element of sustainable products with a personal signature.
This was one of Van den Hul’s personal older cartridges, which he customised for the linear tracking arm, which has much greater horizontal force than a normal pivot arm. He wound the coils and assembled the cartridge by hand under a powerful microscope. It was a great privilege to fetch it from him in 2015. A vinyl album is a very long continuous spiral, from start to finish. The acoustic signal of stereo uses each side of the groove, in which a tiny diamond tip tracks the topography inside to unravel incredible detail. It took many ye a r s o f evo l u t io n t o deve lo p different shapes of diamond, like t h e l i n e o r S h i b a t a t i p, w h ic h extracts more musical information but causes less damage and wear. This tiny diamond sends signals through a cantilever into the cartridge body, where, in this case, tiny magnetic coils move between alnico magnets.
All the other components date from the mid-80s, including the linear tone arm, which remains tangential to the groove at all times. Consider that on LPs often the most intimate track was the last one, where the greatest tracking error of a pivot arm occurs; linear tracking is built for intimate music. I rebuilt an ’80s Swiss direct drive classic turntable, which had a lot of damage but it was a pleasure to restore it to its minimal beauty. As a student, I bought the baby version of that same make in Paris, secondhand, with everything I owned; I waited for three years for it to arrive via a friend, and used it for 27 years while most people were getting rid of their vinyl albums to embrace the new god of compact disc, which in my world is a failure of note. So much transient detail of the music is lost. Sure, there are no scratches, but there is also no life. Every other component was slowly and painstakingly improved 63
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with advice from friends. I rebuilt the power supply for the turntable, the head amp (moving coil cartridges need more amplification) and the pre amp. All these steps added more clarity to the sound, more space and more depth. To be honest, I have absolutely no knowledge of electronics, but I can solder and build very well, and I have a good ear. As a student I always aspired to a very pure sound, but with very little money, friends helped me to build and improve, like the head amp, which was based on a famous American make, using Nuvistor metal valves, some of the last before transistors took over. The pre amplifier also uses tiny valves. Most of this technology still exists because it was used in Russian fighter jets to avoid radar detection. The Mosfet power amplifiers were designed by Daan Jacobs, a wonderful man with incredible hearing who developed reasonable sound systems in the 1980s. I got very lucky with these enormous Danish Dahlquist speakers. I had heard about them but they were stacked in a garage – the previous owner’s girlfriend wouldn’t move in
with him with the speakers – so I couldn’t even hear them. After two years of polite emails, he sent me this miraculous note saying that I was the only one who hadn’t insulted them, so if I could transport them, I could have them. In reciprocation, I framed one of my panoramic photographs for him. These are once-ina-lifetime opportunities. It took some work to repair blown components but they’re fabulous. I’ve always appreciated the girlfriend who couldn’t stand those speakers. MOMO: When did your interest in the mechanisms of audio systems start? LK: As a teenager I bought an old Sony reel-to-reel and recorded my Scottish neighbours’ LPs on my parents’ very basic setup. As with cameras, I always yearned for more resolution, and used equipment was improved. As an exchange student in Iowa, I bought a used Rega 2, my first turntable, then had to wait a long time for it to arrive in South Africa. A similar situation arose a f t e r my fo u r t h ye a r i n a rc h i tecture practical working in the Netherlands and finding a used direct drive in Paris.
Those journeys out of South Africa were an escape from the narrow views of apartheid, and that was when I realised how strange and unreal the politics was. Every journey was a step of learning; every step was an attempt to improve the resolution of the sound, while searching for music that was banned or unavailable in South Africa at that time. Somehow, music and political changes were connected. MOMO: What kind of music do you listen to? LK: There’s so much talent out there but it’s difficult to find on vinyl. I have no interest in vinyl for sentimental reasons; it’s purely for acoustics, as most other formats are severely compressed. I’ve always loved quieter but very explorative sound. That thrives on this system; loud rock or overly busy music becomes a cacophony of noise. I don’t listen at very high volume, as most music sounds better at its natural level. I love free jazz, the experimental side, but also quieter contemporary acoustic and experimental artists. My daughter has her own vinyl setup, with old Quad valve amplifiers. We share a passion for Nina Simone
‘Hillbrow La Rosa Winter West’, 2016.
and experimental jazz because I ‘Manenberg’ Coetzee at a secret took her to live performances that venue, and listened to and photoshe wanted to hear as a teenager. Lil graphed Jennifer Ferguson. Only Wayne was hard work for me but much later I realised that top freebecause we did that together, she’ll try jazz artists like Don Cherry and music with me. There’s no greater joy Johnny Dyani were performing with in this world than sharing it with her. Dollar Brand; it took time for me to realise how brilliant he is. I also support the excellent MOMO: You’ve mentioned that music – young jazz musicians rising in besides travelling – gave you a mode for S o u t h A f r ic a : Ky le S h e p h e rd , used a normal lens or long lens to do new perspectives. With this in mind, what Nduduzo Makhathini, Zoe Modiga multiple adjacent images, rather kind of music do you collect? LK: Music represented a form of and many others. We have a world- than a single wide-angle image protest. For example, in my student class jazz renaissance happening which is much easier but lacks detail days at university it was an intense right here in South Africa. – the idea of panoramic as multiple time, with a lot of police on camframes started then. People often pus and riots. I don’t call myself a MOMO: Your music appreciation is very asked to be photographed because political activist; I wasn’t running hands-on, an analogue experience there were no cellphones, but it was a around but I was definitely not similar to how you shoot your large-scale lengthy and slow process – measursupporting the status quo. images of city landscapes, which is also ing light by hand, then compensating In the early days of the quiet very complex and time consuming. for contrast and old materials in film revolutionaries, my first album What’s your process? processing, and finally printing on was Joni Mitchell’s Blue, bought LK: As an architecture student I old paper in the darkroom, which I in school uniform at age 15; I was started walking the city and docum- absolutely loved. deeply in love and still am; I still enting rare buildings, many of which I eventually bought an old have the album and it’s still beau- have since been demolished. I real- Linhof 6x9 field camera that could tiful. Music that’s raw and stripped ised the need for greater resolution, do tilt-and-shift for perspective of decoration hardly ages. but I had very limited finances, so control. At the time digital cameras Another of my earliest albums I used old film and old paper, and a were being introduced, so, much was Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim’s used 6x6 Bronica. When you’re try- like my analogue sound system, The Journey. On my first-ever trip ing to capture transition or decay, these wonderful tools were being to Cape Town in 1985 I saw Basil resolution is very important. I also discarded for digital alternatives.
‘I’m searching for timeless quality in an imperfect world.’
‘Dark Ponte Citadel’, 2015.
The Linhof is very manual: it opens like a jack-in-the-box, with many settings, all manual, and focus on a glass plate, and measuring light by hand, and only eight exposures on a roll of 120 film, so you had to be very careful. But in doing things manually you develop a kind of intuitive mechanical understanding of light, contrast, etc. This cumbersome, clumsy camera was less attractive for theft when the city starte d be coming rougher, but delivered great detail. For a long period, while my daughter was growing up, I stopped photographing – there was no time to raise a child, run a small practice, teach at university and do darkroom photography, or analogue sound, for that matter. In those years I hardly listened to my vinyl albums; it was just too complicated with being a dad. By stopping these cumbersome but precious rituals, part of my creative spirit died. Around 2005, after seven years of abstinence, I picked up the old tools and started photographing with the Linhof again. I did my first images with the Linhof using old chemicals and paper which caused
once-off beautiful aberrations. Shortly afterwards I got my first digital SLR [single lens reflex] camera, and got permission to shoot the stadiums in progress for the 2010 World Cup. It was a very humble camera body with only one lens but I couldn’t tell the stadium designers that, so I started learning how to stitch and stack composite images for higher resolution with very limited equipment. I later got a better camera body and two good lenses, which is still the equipment I use today. I started documenting the city in transformation, mostly at night. Much as with the old me diumformat system, I use long manual exposures and focus at the lowest ASA [film speed] to capture the de t a i l o f eve r- c h a n g i n g c i t ie s at night. I che ck many highresolution details after every exposure, scanning the view of the city like a painter would imagine an outcome. It’s not visible in camera until the image is stitched together, so there remains an element of abstraction, similar to using film that captured an invisible likeness of reality.
I’ve always striven to capture space with razor-fine detail in a kind of raw, unforgiving way. Most photographers have access to good equipment and good software but sometimes they rely on automation. The composite process is cumbersome but every minute detail of an imperfect world is captured. You can almost hear the sounds when you see a three-metre-wide cotton-rag print. In the same way, you can almost hear the room and the breath of the musicians on a good analogue (or digital) system. I’m searching for timeless quality in an imperfect world. MOMO: Do you see the mechanisms of music, photography and architecture as intertwined, especially considering the amount of work and time that go into your way of listening to music or photographing? LK: Very much so. When I moved from drawing buildings by hand with pencil or ink to early digital CAD systems, the technology was very slow. I used 3D CAD quite extensively, but in the same pain-in-the-ass manner as I do in most other things, I wanted precision in the detail. Some students today rush into using quick,
easy 3D programs, which eventually result in mindless generic buildings like shopping malls which perpetuate consumerism but remove the idea of craft and intelligence. Interestingly, I use hand-sketch model building as my primary tool in architectural education at university. The students thrive when they see their dreams unfolding in hand-sketch models. They develop remarkable dexterity and can explain systems much better than with generic software. I’m all for using cutting-edge technology if it improves the end result, but first you have to understand the connection between mind and fingertips; computers haven’t reached that level of sophistication yet. In the right hands any technology can produce great results but it requires a deep level of understanding. I can see the needle in the groove, and clean it if there’s dust on it. I can check every detail image for exposure and sharpness or surreal movements. I can measure from good models accurate 3D drawings but only if I understand how they’re made.
LEON’S SOUND-CHECK Jean de Sainte-Colombe French composer and violist Maria Callas Greek-American soprano
Joanna Newsom American harpist, pianist, vocalist and lyricist Olafur Arnalds Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer
Teresa Beranza Spanish mezzo-soprano
Karlheinz Stockhausen German composer
Joni Mitchell Blue
Art Ensemble of Chicago Archie Shepp American jazz saxophonist Arvo Pärt Estonian religious and classical music composer Ben Howard English singer-songwriter Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim The Journey
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From left: Davido, MI Abaga, Wizkid and Tekno.
THE BOYS ARE DOING IT Given the barrage of Nigerian pop music online and on radio, it might appear unlikely, but the country’s music had to put up a fight to get attention within its own borders – and in the global pop conversation. Words: Oris Aigbokhaevbolo Photographs via Music In Africa
‘I love myself,’ read the tweet. ‘I love the West African country, spurred on by the favourable dollar-naira everything about me.’ The handle making this self-love exchange rate. Some of the biggest public on 24 June 2017 belonged to Nigerian acts were wooe d and Ayodeji Balogun, the man known to signed by these companies. Fela was most of the world as Wizkid. Usually, courted by Arista. King Sunny Ade Wizkid posts some vague empower- was signed, and released three ment notes; sometimes he tells his albums internationally. Then came the dwindling power followers about an upcoming concert; other times, he uses the platform of the naira around the time of to score a point against his rivals. the implementation of the World This tweet of self-love garnered Bank-sponsored ‘structural adjustseveral interactions – favourites, ment programme’ put in place by replies, retweets. Wizkid’s follow- Ibrahim Babangida, head of the ers endorsed his self-endorsement. Nigerian state from 1985 to 1993. And why wouldn’t they? Since the Labels left the country. And as a limelight first shone on Balogun, result of the economic hardship initially as a featured artist on rapper attending the programme, some of MI Abaga’s Talk About It album and Nigeria’s popular artists followed. ‘The structural adjustment prothen, substantially, on his own debut album Superstar, Wizkid has come gramme chased out some of our acts,’ to represent the growing stature of confirms Michael Odiong of Premier Music, the only label from the 1970s Nigerian pop music. It wasn’t always this way. Juju still doing business in Nigeria today. m u s i c, h i g h l i fe a n d a f ro b e a t ‘It’s why there’s a gap between music reigned in Nigeria in the 1970s and from then and the music now. The ’80s. Big labels set up branches in younger artists never received men-
torship from the older ones because they left.’ In their place R Kelly, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, 2Pac and others filled the gap. For many youngsters in 1990s Nigeria, American pop music was as much a part of life as the occasional scolding from parents. So it stands to reason that those who became pop artists never quite lost the shape and turns of American rhythm. An effe ct of this American domination would become apparent in the late 1990s, when a new phase in Nigerian pop began to surface: several acts rode to early success by incorporating melodies from American pop songs. ‘The present phase of Nigerian pop started with boy bands who had their ears pressed to the radio,’ confirms music critic Dami Ajayi. ‘Their earliest attempts were imitations of what radio brought their way. Our earliest contemporary sounds took their essence from the US.’ 71
Indeed, Maintain, a popular well as his good looks and charisma, duo at the time, sampled Aaliyah. would come to serve Nigerian Remedies, an equally popular trio, pop well. ‘It can’t hurt that there’s somesampled Michael Jackson’s ‘Liberian Girl’. The shortlived group Black thing about him that’s familiar to Reverendz sampled a Busta Rhymes western audiences,’ says music hishit song. Plantashun Boiz used a torian Uchenna Ikonne. ‘Wizkid Lionel Richie sample. As Freestyle, a draws heavily on dancehall and member of the rap group Trybesmen, certain strains of southern hip put it in one interview, ‘We’re trying hop and electronic dance music, to be as good as or better than the s o h i s m u s ic i s n’ t a l t o ge t h e r From the margins, Nigerian strange to western audiences. It’s people we got the rap from.’ pop had travelled to land squarely The approach had precise geo- just exotic enough without being in the middle of the pop -music graphical limitations: it was western totally alien.’ conversation. For all his innate music qualities, pop packaged for a West African ‘Naija pop is the next new sound,’ audience. The sound had no real Wizkid and the spread of contemsays Ajayi. ‘It fuses everything withprospect of going past its own bor- porary Nigerian pop have been out being one thing. It’s dance music ders. Acts like Banky W and MI assisted by one presence in modern with pedigree and bounce. It’s a little Abaga attended university and took living: the internet. Where artists bit of dancehall, soca and reggae, their first career steps in the USA working prior to the digital revhighlife and traditional African but, realising they had no chance olution had to rely on record labels sound, a blend of contemporary at breaking into the western market, – with heavy paperwork between Nigerian lingua and cultural idicompanies and individuals – to they returned home. oms. The music has moved from Banky W released a cover of spread music, today the web has the American stronghold and found Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’, and Abaga provided a vast and easy platform its own idiom.’ reminded fans of Lil Wayne and for exchange. In January 2016, Sony ann‘Labels could hardly get songs Kanye West. Both became successounced that it had signed Davido, from outside the US to radio; that ful quickly. Wizkid’s only rival for pop domBoth met a boy who liked to was a bridge too far. There was a inance on the continent. Shortly hang around the studio and thought kind of quota system: in general, the afterwards, the global giant signed him talented enough to work with. US market and other western marproducer and performer Tekno. Banky W signed him to his Empire kets limited the amount of foreign After months of speculation, Mates label; Abaga put him on a product they let in. The internet Wizkid’s Sony deal was announced song on his debut album. Wizkid changed all that,’ says Ikonne. in March. Ahe ad of his debut, He continues, ‘The sound of was on his way. Sony proje ct Sounds From The Born in 1990, Wizkid belongs Nigerian pop itself is inspired by Other Side, Wizkid scored another squarely to the generation who lis- the fact that young Nigerians with collaboration with Drake. The music tened to modern American music internet access are exposed to a video clocked over a million views on the radio. And although raised range of sounds from around the within 24 hours. in Lagos, he grew up in Surulere, world that they might never have The other Sony acts have not a lower- classer suburb, with a heard of if they’d been depending been as successful. While Wizkid fa m ily le ss cosmopolitan than on terrestrial radio. With the intergot the superstar Drake, Davido was either Banky W’s or Abaga’s. His net it’s really a direct line from the paired with the lesser-known Amerinfluences included both Nigerian artist to the listener. It’s changed ican R&B act Tinashe. Their duet pop and fuji music, a traditional the way listeners consume music ‘How Long’ sparked curiosity but not Yoruba form often played by young altogether. People are less hung much else. And Tekno’s next move up about labels, or discriminating men on the streets. is unclear so far. ‘I’m not convinced Wande Coal, an artist signed based on the point of origin of the Tekno can catch on in the west – not to Don Jazzy’s Mo’ Hits label, had music.’ in a big way, anyway,’ says Ikonne. The internet also changed comalready combined fuji vocal phrasing ‘If Wizkid is just exotic enough, with American pop and R&B on munication between artists themTekno might be too exotic.’ 2009’s Mushin 2 Mo’Hits. In Wizkid’s selves. British-Nigerian rapper Ajayi agre e s but has hope. hands, however, that sound was Skepta played Wizkid’s Ojuelegba ‘Tekno and Davido have sounds still for global star Drake. The Canaprimed to go further. heavy with African sensibilities,’ Groomed by Banky W, Wizkid dian liked it, recorded a verse of he says. ‘Their music may not be released his debut album in 2011. the song, which already was an poised for the international market Early singles showed he could do Africa-wide hit, and passed it on. but you know how these things are – songs both in the American pop tra- A big song became even bigger. one song and everything changes.’ Wizkid then provided both dition, as with ‘Holla At Your Boy’, and in the fuji tradition, as he did vocals and production on Drake’s on ‘Pakurumo’. This ability to move single ‘One Dance’. The global pop from one culture to the other, as industry took notice.
‘Naija pop … fuses everything without being one thing.’
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MOMO THE MAGAZINE
IN PROFILE: SETHEMBILE MSEZANE Photographs: Nina Lieska
Sethembile Msezane ‘The Day Rhodes Fell’, 2015.
Sethembile Msezane is a 26-yearold South African artist living and working in Cape Town. Through performance, photography and s c u l p t u re, s h e fo c u s e s o n t h e absence of iconic black women in history and mythology. As a millennial contributing to an archive of African women’s histories, she employs strategies of creating self-definition that are deeply rooted in looking at her own past, connecting and acknowledging her ancestry, and seeking out the stories of other African women. Kwasuka Sukela: Re-imagined Bodies of a (South African) 90s Born Woman presents sculptural installations that speak to the interplay of public and private domains, narrating re sistance and s e l fassertion in response to dominant ideologies in the public space. Of this intimate journey into the past, she says, ‘Through my work I have explored the need to resist domination and assert self-definition, and inversely, I have expressed the need to simply be.’
Top: Kwasuka Sukela: Re-imagined Bodies of a (South African) 90s Born Woman exhibition Cape Town, 2017. Above: ‘Kwasuka Sukela’, 2016.
‘Manifestations of Self’, 2015.
Msezane has performed at the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Art’s Intersect, at the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town, at the Association for Visual Arts gallery and the Vrystaat Kunstefees, in Cape Town’s Infecting the City, and at OPENLab, with residencies in Bloemfontein and Richmond, South Africa. A Turbine Art Fair Sylt Emerging Artist Residency Award winner, she was also the first recipient of the Rising Light award at the Mbokodo Awards for South African women in the arts, a Barclays L’Atelier Top 10 Finalist and a Sasol New Signatures Merit Award winner. Msezane has exhibited in Portland (Oregon, USA), Hobart (Australia), Amsterdam, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her works are also in the Zeitz MOCAA collection.
Top: ‘Azania – What Will Be Remembered What Will Be Forgotten’, 2015. Above: ‘Gog’Ma Shange’, 2016.
Solo shows include FRAC Pays de Loire, France (2013); the Havana Biennial (2012); and MoCADA, New York (2011). Visit: gallerymomo.com
‘Signal Her Return’, 2015.
‘Strange Fruit’, 2015.
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
THE SHARING OF LUXURY LIVING Photographs: InResidence
There are things in life that become more beautiful when shared with others – music, wine, art, and also living. What a delight to reside in a beautifully designed home and to experience the individual and exclusive lifestyle it offers for a holiday. InResidence offers this experience in a handpicked selection of 50 of Cape Town’s most luxurious properties.
‘Home from home’ means different things to different people. For those accustomed to the finer things in life, a discreet street of luxury villas on the sought-after Cape Town Atlantic Seaboard offer all the comforts of home – including helicopter pads, rooftop pools and private cinemas. This portfolio of properties – all within easy reach of Cape Town’s world-class restaurants, bars, bistros and coffee shops, and a stroll from the city’s idyllic greenbelts and walking trails – is managed by InResidence, a property-management outfit pioneered by property-industry veteran Pieter Brundyn. But this is no chain of shortlet summer chalets. Each property is unique in its own way, exclusively and individually designed, and boasting every facility, modcon and gadget to make life easy and secure. Visit: inresidence.co.za
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
TURNING THE PAGES: FOOTPRINTS At heart, Andrew Tshabangu is a poet, working in a visual imagery that’s deeply layered. Nuance is the golden thread that runs through his photographs of a country on the move. But it’s not the restlessness of the political that’s captured in his pictures; it’s the slow, inexorable movement of time. Andrew Tshabangu’s great gift is to capture people and places, and to compel us to reflect on the transient nature of both. It’s life on the move that we sense in his photographs, although there’s no trace of nostalgia in any of his images. Instead, taken together, they’re a bold statement of life as a ‘state of becoming’. In his volume Footprints, which brings together about 20 years of
analogue black-and-white photography, Tshabangu brings to each of his subjects the patience of a poet and the wisdom of a philosopher, as well as the humour of a city native. Perhaps the most poignant of the works are those of hostel interiors. All too often, photographs convey the sense of the photographer as ‘outsider’ invested in the spectacle of the lives of ‘others’. In his images, however, Tshabangu has managed to remove himself as an observer, resulting in an almost clandestine intimacy in the way he’s captured and retained the private nature of these spaces. This is especially important because, in the South African imagination, hostels have come to define the absence of beauty or tenderness, instead representing a kind of hard, survivalist masculinity. In some of his works, Tshabangu can be seen as doing the work of the magic realists, who, by capturing the absurd in the face of what we know
as public intention, created literary magic. This is particularly evident in his series on religious moments in which he distils the essence of the numinous through his patient lens. But the great triumph of the book has to be his series on the Shembe religious pilgrims in the section titled ‘Bridges’. The largescale group compositions are not only breathtaking in their ambition and beauty, but are reminiscent of the work of Gordon Parks on the Nation of Islam. Both photographers have been able to find that balance between hope and the vast energy that cohesive groups generate in moments of public celebration. In Footprints, Tshabangu captures slices of life that foreground the individual, the group and, ultimately, the social. There’s a subtlety in each of the images that makes up this important contribution to global photography.
Top: ‘Brazier, Joubert Park 1’, 1994. Above: ‘Stove in the Next Room’, 2008.
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
WHO SAID PRINT IS DEAD? Kampala’s newspaper trade is thriving, thanks partly to its function as an invaluable public forum.
‘Carrying Firewood’, 2003.
Footprints is published by Fourthwall Books, Johannesburg 2017 Edited and with an introduction by: Thembinkosi Goniwe Preface by: Mongane Wally Serote Essays by: Michael Godby, Ashraf Jamal, Neelika M Jayawardane, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Hlonipha Mokoena, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Simon Njami ISBN: 978-0-9947009-2-6 Hard cover Duotone 204 pages 260 x 240 mm
The Ugandan capital, Kampala, is the site of a counterhistoric story in the life of print media. Everywhere in the world where digital media has taken hold, print newspapers are undergoing a definitive decline. In Kampala, however, print seems to have remained a mainstay of that society. The city boasts a bustling newspaper scene comprising about 200 different newspaper vendors trading in both current and back issues – each bought and sold with as much care as the other. This is because in Kampala citizens seek out back issues to catch up on gazetted information they may have missed when the papers were originally published. This is vital for people needing to publicly declare a certain action such as a name change or a business closure, while newspaper listings of stolen passports become documentary proof for the relevant authorities when a Ugandan wants to apply for a new document. The civil- savvy citizens of Kampala will spend about 200 shillings (75c) to buy a current newspaper, with back issues going for anything from 20 000 to 60 000 shillings (about $8 to $20) a copy. The price is driven by how strongly that particular title might have captured the nation’s interest on that day, thus the story ‘Uganda’s Ghetto President music star becomes real-life MP ’ (The Independent, June 2017) may end up becoming a highly prized Kampala collectible.
MOMO SELECTOR Whether you’re at your desk, driving or lounging, this playlist is bound to put a spell on you. Happy listening.
Naomi Shalton and the Gospel... Sinner Hugh Masekela Market Place Alice Smith I put a Spell on You Corey King Ibaraki Roy Ayers Virgo Red Ambiguity I Am Your Mind José James The Dreamer/Park Bench People
BRING ON THE PICANTE
THE FISH SPECIAL
MOMO The Magazine raises a glass to our favourite Soho House classic, the Picante de la Casa.
Every big city has its own Solly’s Corner – somewhere downtown, no fine dining, a treat for the moment.
50 ml Cazadores Reposado tequila Freshly squeezed juice of one large lime 20 ml agave syrup 1 stem coriander 1 small piece of chilli
It’s a delight that comes with the full package of delicious food and the notorious plastic chairs – this particular atmosphere, warmth and familiarity. Solly’s fish-and-chips sandwich with cheese and salads in its mix of masala spices makes this a true Joburg speciality, served to locals since 1958.
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with coriander and chilli. Served at: Mesh Club, Johannesburg. meshclub.co.za
Jarabe de Palo Grande Exitos/El Lado Oscuro Freddy Hubbard Red Clay Hank Jones Feat. Chieck Tidiane Seck & The Mandikas Fantague Fela Kuti Water no Got Enemy Takiya Kuroda Rising Son/Everybody Loved the Sunshine
Served at: Solly’s Corner, 30 Lillian Ngoyi Street, Johannesburg
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
CONTENTS BUSINES S
MORE THAN RADIO
‘We as a business can turn the listener into someone who’s loyal based on our recognition of their needs,’ he explains. ‘We have to understand the audience we’re talking to, what their inner conflicts are and their Photographs: Siphiwe Mhlambi aspirations. We have to be the go-to person to resolve those inner conJohannesburg-based Kaya FM, flicts. We have to position ourselves launched 20 years ago, continues to as a business that’s able to deliver undergo an evolution that mirrors the on or at least drive those ambitions.’ growth of segments of South Africa’s Kaya was, when launched 20 population who were not catered to prior years ago, licensed as a black radio to the democratic elections in 1994. station focused on the black middle Kojo Baffoe unpacks this evolution. class, a market not previously catThe responsibility that comes with ered for. Even by the time Maloka speaking to almost a million people joined, 10 years ago, ‘Kaya was still every week is one that Kaya FM man- very black focused,’ he says. ‘There aging director Greg Maloka takes was a tone of militancy and there was very seriously, especially in a society a rejection of everything “old school”, where there’s a vacuum of informa- which was what white South Africa tion. ‘Kaya FM’s business model is had created as a class, as a standard based on being a voice for the listener and as a space. There was a sense of and supplying the intel they need to intelligent rebellion. That’s where we were as a society at that particular make the right decisions,’ he says. And that’s predicated on building time, and therefore it made sense a trust relationship with listeners. for the time.’
Maloka, who approaches the Kaya business from the perspective of someone who grew up within those restrictive times, says, ‘Through music, through literature, we knew that something was wrong with our condition, we understood the political impact and we knew we had to get something better, but we also had to deal with the fact that we were socialised a certain way.’ Today, while the business’s core market sits at about 35 years old, there’s engagement with the 24-to-49-year-old bracket and an audience that’s older than 50. As a result, the business has to be, and is, consciously developing its model to create other platforms that ensure appeal across a spectrum of people who serve as important voices for the future of South Africa. It’s time for the station’s strong black middleclass audience to be extended into an inclusive culture that’s not driven by politics, especially the politics of race. It’s about a focus on what any
ordinary person wants: the opportunity to work, to earn a living, to live life, to take care of family, and to create a legacy for their children. One of the ways the station achieves this is shortening the distance between the business and the listener. An example is Kaya Travel. Over the last few years, the business has put together listener trips to destinations such as the French Alps, Bali, Zanzibar and the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, meticulously curating each experience. ‘Kaya Travel is our way of getting our people out,’ says Maloka. ‘One of the most important things about travel is how your mind opens when you see the world, when you see other people and when you see how things work in other places. The perspective that it brings to your own life is incredible. We don’t travel not because we don’t want to but because, sometimes, we don’t know how to, we don’t know where to go.’
Kaya Travel has been so successful that the station is now expanding into Kaya Business Travel. Challenges remain, Maloka concedes. ‘Our business model has to be sensitive to the fact that South Africa still struggles with finding its own identity. There’s huge disagreement with regards to what that identity is, and that disconnect causes a lot of problems because, historically, business models are based on western principles and western systems. But, by hook or by crook, this country will find its identity, and this identity does not reside in what we see now. People are challenging convention at every turn.’ It’s this that informs Maloka’s approach to the need to create a product that’s not merely a radio station but rather a central organising principle that seeks to change the way Kaya FM’s listeners – also referred to as ‘Afropolitans’ – are socialised and what they’re exposed to. ‘If we’re to grow industry, music, the level of
conversation in this country, and the appreciation of certain things that are packaged, positioned and priced correctly for the market, we can only go up,’ Maloka asserts. Human-centred design, a key concept in product development, marketing and business in general, is at the heart of what Kaya FM has been doing over the years. It’s about being able to curate a person’s life with them, and then reflecting it back to them and allowing them to live that life. As Maloka puts it, ‘Business is about people, and if you’re not clear about the people you’re talking to, and treat them with love and respect, you shouldn’t be in the business of radio.’
MOMO THE MAGAZINE
AFRICAN BUSINESS ETIQUETTE
CONTENTS BUSINES S
Words: Solly Moeng
In Japan, offering a business card with both hands and with the head slightly bowed is widely acknowledged as good business etiquette. In Africa, these rules of engagement are less well known by foreigners doing business on the continent, but they’re no less important. Handshake South African style In South Africa – the ‘world in one country’ – there’s a wide range of greetings, some firmly rooted in ancient traditions from Africa and other parts of the world, others modern amalgams of the country’s multicultural tapestry. The South African three-point or three-touch handshake is sincere, welcoming and connecting, and it’s common among South Africans from many different cultural backgrounds. This uniquely South African physical greeting consists of a straightforward handshake, followed by a mutual grasping of thumbs, then another straightforward handshake. It allows considerably more physical contact than a conventional handshake. Additionally, the South African might use both hands to clasp the hand of the visitor, accompanied by a gentle bow to show respect; and the longer the visitor’s hand is clasped, the warmer the intention. The South African handshake is one of the few things visitors are unlikely to encounter anywhere else in the world – except, of course, from South Africans living in the diaspora.
Time difference Ethiopian style ‘Africa time’ takes on a whole new meaning in Ethiopia, where international norms for telling time are ignored in favour of the local 12-hour clock. Whereas in most countries the day starts at midnight, in Ethiopia the 12-hour clock works from dawn to dusk and back. Because the country lies close to the equator, Ethiopia’s daylight hours are pretty consistent throughout the year and, accordingly, Ethiopian time begins at 07h00 (the first hour of the day, or 1:00) and ends at 19h00, the last daytime hour, after which the countdown starts again from 1:00. So next time you travel in Ethiopia for business and intend to attend meetings with locals, do yourself a favour and reset your time to Ethiopian time as soon as you arrive in the country. It may seem confusing at first but you’ll soon get used to it – it’s just a matter of time. For more business etiquette insights, visit momothemagazine.com