White Curtains Diary Valeria Naz
White Curtains Diary Valeria Naz
From: Valerie Geselev Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 12:35:38 +0200 To: Nokulunga Zondo Subject: White curtains collaboration Dear Nokulunga! Hello :) So this is a short story of how I found your poem. Recently I have moved to a flat in a neighbourhood of Cape Town that has mainly apartment blocks. One lovely Saturday I was drying my umbrella in the window of my room, when my house-mate came in and told me that it stands against the rules of the body corporate that manages the building. Apparently it is forbidden to hang anything outside from the windows. And, she added apologetically, they even determine the colour of the curtains one may use. Ever since, when I’m walking through this neighbourhood, I notice that the dozens of buildings, with thousands of balconies and windows, have only white curtains. I could count the ‘rebels’ on the fingers of my one hand. I am fascinated by this phenomenon. I googled ‘white curtains’ and ‘South Africa’ or ‘rules’- looking for a possible article or official regulation about the white curtains. But then I found your poem. And I loved it. I found it to be a beautiful reflection on the philosophy of white curtains. Much thanks, and all the best from sunny Cape Town. Valerie
From: Nokulunga Zondo Date: Sun, Apr 13, 2014 at 11:37 AM Subject: Re: White curtains collaboration To: Valerie Geselev Hey Valerie, You know, the interesting thing is why I wrote my poem. I lived in a flat in Bloemfontein and the washing lines were on the top of the building, but the key was kept by the general workers who left the building at 16h00 daily and didn’t come in on weekends. But during those hours most of us were at work, and were off on the days he didn’t come in. So I rigged myself a mini line on my balcony, but in two days I received a letter from the body corporate about the visual disturbance and disruption of order my laundry was causing. Guess what! They also suggested that all of us should follow my lead and use white or buff curtains, as it enhanced the visual order they were striving for. I didn’t know who to confront as the body corporate is an office controlled by a group of individuals we never met. I wrote the poem because everyone assumes anything white, from clothing to race to shields and flags and church uniforms indicates moral superiority, and cleanliness and purity, but I think we use the colour to hide the truth. Kind regards, Nokulunga Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom let your email find you!
My white curtain My room has a white curtain Made of voile, with an under layer of more voile And today because my heart is heavy I stare at it And imagine the possibilities. So many colours I could dye it. So many ways in which I could hang it So many overtops to use Or just a bamboo blind underneath it But it is white. Pure white. And white tells no lies, hides no secrets White covers no imperfections White highlights all the wrong And I want to add that it is next to a white closet. Inside it is all manners of jungle. Folded jungle, and thrown carelessly jungle Clean jungle, and denim jungle And I could never put the jungle next to my white curtain Unless enclosed within the white closet. White creates an illusion Of cleanliness and purity And we chose it thus because we do not think That white has also a density Thick enough to mask jungle.
My white curtain full of possibilities But hampered by its whiteness. Now if all things were white Including my skin and my teeth And people’s hearts and our bed linen We would not need the closet next to the white curtain With its thick, dense closet doors. We would just leave everything as. After all, there would be no imperfection. Right? Beyond my white curtain is the balcony Burglar proofed from the street and eyes outside. And because of the white voile under layer below My white curtain is dense So if I walk unclothed in the room, Even though my skin is dark as a looming night Eyes outside cannot tell, if it’s imperfection. Because of my white curtain and its possibilities My room looks bigger for my white curtain, for it Interferes not With the symmetry of the walls It’s an extension of wall against white wall. Oh, the endless possibilities.
Zondo in correspondence with
V: More than two years have passed since our first correspondence, what colour curtain do you have in your home? N: At the moment I have a hot pink over voile of pale blue with braided piping in the lounge. I have a pastel vertical stripe in the kidsâ€™ room, orange thick cotton over white voile in my bedroom, and lime green over white voile in the guest bedroom. My house is an explosion of colour and texture, and we love white curtains over white voile too but we only use these to make a room seem bigger. Â V: How did you get involved in the project? N: To cut a long story short, the project chose me! All I did was write a poem to vent out my frustration and post it on a public platform where it got published. You (from your own frustrations) were looking for ideas on a project you wanted to create, and came across this poem on the Internet search en-
gine, and contacted me. I was mainly excited that my poem was relevant enough to impact someone’s situation, and was happy for you to use it.
V: What inspired your poem? N: I was living at the time (in 2012) in a block of flats in Bloemfontein, Navalsig, and had hung my laundry on the balcony because the place where we normally hung laundry was locked up after hours and on weekends, when I was mainly at home. So I rigged my own makeshift hanging line and a few days after that I received a letter from ‘Body Corporate’ telling me that this wasn’t allowed. They also commended me for using white curtains in my flat and went on to say they were going to communicate to the rest of the flat occupants to do the same! I was very angry, but since Body Corporate was a faceless person whose address I didn’t even know, I vented in the best way I know how… Words. V: What was your favourite part of the process? N: My favourite part was walking into the Sea Point Main Road exhibition that first time and finding the whole walk-in gallery bursting with individualistic creativity inspired by my poem. I felt good! The series of videos on monitors with the poem interwoven also blew me up! Nothing about that was ‘white!’
V: What do you think about the exhibition? N: Art lives on. I feel like I had a special place in confronting the White Curtains issue. In so doing, I paved the way for artists to have a voice and confront stereotypes, being caged in and forced to conform. The exhibition started so stark and so frigid in its lack of colour, and by the end it was an explosion of opinions in the form of Frank’s colouring book for all ages, and Atang’s illustration on the window of the gallery. Also, this got people talking. It probably woke many people up to the fact that there are NO curtains of colour in Sea Point, which probably not many had realised before. V: Did any story stand out in your head from the project so far? N: The entire project in so far as I’m involved stands out for me. Not in the least that it’s different artists, different textures and forms of art, brought together by this one issue. Everyone has a reason why they got involved, even if it’s because the curator is warm hearted and influential.
One thing that stands out the most is outside of the poem. As I was travelling to Cape Town by bus for the first exhibition, we got stuck for many hours in the middle of nowhere. In the frustration and hunger people were phoning the owners of the bus company complaining. Someone screamed on the face that if the bus was carrying a lot of ‘white people’ we wouldn’t have been left so long stranded on a bus without water! I remember being embarrassed by this outburst, because there were a few white people on the bus. I never discussed this because I felt ashamed of my people’s pre-occupation with race. Now, when I think about that, I’m embarrassed that I was such a snob about it. This association of white (as a race) with better service delivery is a social norm that we should, all of us in our different races, strive to rectify. I realise that stereotypes are stereotypes because they happened once too often to the same group of people in the same circumstances. By keeping quiet and never discussing this I was perpetrating another stereotype, of coconutism!
V: How would you describe the project to a stranger briefly?
N: I prefer not to describe it. I prefer to let a stranger walk into the exhibitions and form their own opinion, and tell me what they see. If you ask me what this project is about, I’d say it’s about what one wants to say about white curtains. What do white curtains symbolise to one, and what are they gonna do about it?
V: What motivates your art practice? N: Life. I like to believe that art cannot be confined to form. Art is expression of emotion, belief systems, convictions, unfair treatment, major events that change someone’s life, like love, war, an era, and what motivates me can be anything. I may choreograph a dance piece that talks about a particular story, I may do an abstract painting because of a mood, and sometimes I don’t have anything to say at all, and that silence is art. Us artists, we are generally known by ‘normal’ society to be a weird bunch, because we don’t conform. That motivates my art. V: Why are you a poet? N: That’s like asking me why I drink water. It’s good for me. With poetry I can say anything without people judging me. Because if it sounds weird, the excuse is that it’s art, and artists are weird anyway. V: Do you feel that your work has social impact? N: Not really. I suppose it gets people talking, and asking themselves questions they generally wouldn’t, but does this change the price of bread? Maybe not. So I’ll leave this open for opinion, whichever applies, I’m good with. V: Is there hope for ‘White Curtains’ spaces, like Sea Point? N: Yes! White Curtains, like opinions, are all enforced by people. And where there is human race, there is always a possibility of change. Whether that possibility evolves, or stays just as a possibility is subject also to individual opinion, but I believe that the more we address these issues and confront them with art, people will find it easy to look at themselves without pressure and make that step towards change. V: Where do you see the project going next? N: I’m just shocked that it’s gone as far as a book and the exhibition, I never expected anyone to take this seriously! Of course the possibilities are endless, and with the curating team, I know anything is possible.
V: Do you feel a wind of change in the country? N: Right now I feel political instability, economical unrest and a civil war creeping up on us. People are waking up from their political slumber and realising they went to bed and left the country to a kid that never grew up, and suddenly finds himself with a lot of money to buy all the toys he never had at his disposal. Like a recalcitrant child, many adults feel protective towards him and let him play with his toys, but are wondering if anything else is in store. Of course it is, but people will still be surprised by whatever he does, even knowing or suspecting what he is capable of. Now, this has nothing to do with White Curtains, has it?
Lunar in conversation with
N: How would you describe the White Curtains project briefly to a stranger? F: White Curtains is an intervention or an attempt to highlight stuff that would be seen as taboo, or stuff not usually spoken about, via art and dialogue. V: If we look at White Curtains as a metaphor, does it relate to you in your life? F: I look at White Curtains as a symbol for cover up, whether it’s white-washing or pushing the idea of purity and cleanliness. It’s just conformity. You see it everywhere, especially in art - where a specific thing is being pushed, a culture, trend or agenda that will get more attention. And that is usually an underlining tool so other stuff can’t be spoken of. 18
V: What inspired your artwork for the project? F: Curtains. I think it was also very close to the saying ‘airing dirty laundry’. I’m doing that with the curtains - having them fly off. That’s what it represents metaphorically and symbolically. I am offering to let issues out and to be able to talk a bit. With the image of the curtains flying away, they are also taking the issues with them. At the end of the book they fly over the ocean - that’s basically what happens with all that nonsense. Symbolically, that is what the imagery would represent. V: And what kind of issues do you mean? F: Stuff that people don’t want to associate with Sea Point, but it’s pretty much a Sea Point thing. Like the underlying classist, racist attitude that one will get. The fact that there is so much homelessness there and also very much an old mindset. Stuff that people don’t really want to talk about when they talk about Sea Point.
N: What is your connection to Sea Point? F: I worked there for 2.5 years at a bookshop called Wordsworth Books. While Val was living in Sea Point she was told that she can’t put her umbrella on the balcony because it will act as a visual obstruction to the visual image that’s already being pushed out - only white and white curtains. We both worked at a bookshop at the time, and there I had a similar experience but in a different way - understanding the attitude that would bring such a law into place. I could relate to it. When Val came up with the idea of an exhibition in Sea Point, I felt like we were at a time when colouring books were being hyped up and started to become popular. If that is what people are getting into, then this could be a way to reach out to them as a discussion tool on a specific topic. N: What was your favorite part of the process? F: I have to say creating. That was probably the most fun part. It’s always the part that I’m most excited about in any given project. V: Did any story stand out in your head when you think back to the project so far?
F: How people can get when weird things happen and spaces they don’t usually associate with or are not used to popup. Especially with the Sea Point exhibition, where we were pointing out the white curtains, which were there before we got there. It’s just because it’s so normal, people don’t take note. I think that’s what I took from it - when things become normal you can get away with anything. And that also goes with the conversation related to UCT as well, as if something is normal when that is all there is. N: What do you think about the exhibition re-locating to UCT Michaelis Art School? F: To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect. It’s not something I would have thought would even happen. It’s quite an interesting social comment, but at the same time it’s at UCT - which is the most restrictive, authoritative symbol in art in Cape Town. Having those two extremes come together, anything could happen. Of course it was interesting and the idea of it was exciting. V: Where do you see this project going next, if you allow yourself to dream? F: It could expose more people to art, people that may not necessarily have access to it. I would also like to see a permanent school established, because there isn’t something like that in Sea Point. Maybe having the same concept in other communities and other towns. I think that would be cool getting participation or opinions from that side where this isn’t as normal as in central areas. V: You’ve taken part in a few exhibitions: group and solo shows. Was there something different about the White Curtains exhibition? F: In the solo shows there’s more control over the outcome I want. Because there is a specific message, you can predict more or less where something will go or how it would come out. With something like White Curtains, with other people getting involved, it could really go anywhere. Each person brings his or her own artwork, ideas, personalities, agendas, ideologies, experiences - it really could go anywhere. You must settle with that. 21
N: Why are you an artist? F: That’s heavy. I don’t know how to answer that. V: What motivates your art practice? F: Getting better at the craft. Knowing that a piece is better than the one you did before. Getting the art to look cool is the ultimate. Whatever you want to do, it wouldn’t have that same impact if you weren’t on par with your game. Whatever it is that you want to do - spread a message or make money - you have to be on par with that. V: Do you feel that your work has a social impact? F: I don’t know. Sometimes people participate in it but I don’t know if it has an impact. Maybe that’s the impact. I think so far the best it has done was participation. N: Do you feel a wind of change in the country? F: That’s also one of those questions that I don’t know. I can’t say.
V: Is there hope for Sea Point? F: I don’t know either. I don’t live in Sea Point. I think that someone who lives in Sea Point would maybe have a better answer for that. I’ve only experienced it from that point of view. Sea Point is not something I ponder too much about. I really don’t know if it’s something that I would care too much about. We made a metaphorical use of it. As far as its importance as a place goes, we could have used another suburb - it would have gotten to the same point. So, I don’t care too much about Sea Point as a place. N: What colour curtains do you have in your home? F: I’ve got blinds, grey blinds. Maybe that’s also a body corporate decision beforehand, I don’t know. They didn’t say anything about not having anything else. V: Did you check the contract? F: I didn’t, maybe I should.
Ranson in conversation with Geselev
V: If you would run into a stranger and would have to explain briefly what the White Curtains project is about, how would you phrase it? J: The inspiration for the show was this fact that in a sophisticated well-developed part of Cape Town, like Sea Point, there are these corporate bodies who create rules for tenants in the building to behave in a certain way. Some of those rules have to do with safety and courtesy to the neighbours. Other rules have to do with somebodyâ€™s idea of what this building ought to look like. Since you are talking about what things look like - you are working in the area of visual arts. That was the beginning of the idea that artists could make art about obeying rules, which you donâ€™t necessarily understand and are questionable and give faceless strangers power over individuals. All for the sake of living in harmony with your neighbours.
The curator found a poem, which is a whole lyric extended set of ideas about white curtains: how they divide inside from outside. From the poem a graphic designer created an illustrated story, which became one of these trendy colouring books. It is about what would happen if all the white curtains flew away leaving Sea Point free from those blinders. Another element was a set of videos that are beautifully edited and give you an uneasy slice of Sea Point life, as though you are peering through surveillance cameras. There were some drawings of Sea Point buildings, which are very beautiful.
I did an installation of literal white curtains, moulded in plaster and fixed with starch. They are symbolic of freedom. Sending those white curtains off into space. I also brought in a couple of nude study drawings. Those bring an intimate and emotional look at bodies, which raises a lot of interesting questions: how do we treat private and public space? Should we challenge the rules? Where can artists position themselves? Is the public willing to engage with our peculiar and unusual kind of artwork?
V: What inspired your artwork for this project? J: It was an interesting process. I sat with the concept and Nokulunga’s poem. I thought of a few different possibilities. In discussion with the other artists and curators, it ended up making the most sense to work from Frank’s lyrical, little drawings. It was an interesting experimental artwork to create - simple enough, with space for me to play. V: How did you get involved in this project? J: I was invited by you to take part in the preliminary discussions, because we worked together before on other projects. I was intrigued by your ideas. V: What about the ideas intrigued you? J: It begins with what looks like a very simple symbol - the poetic and familiar white curtains. The more I thought about it - the cleverer it is. Then you ask ‘why white curtains?’ and find the story about people toeing the line and obeying faceless beuarocratic corporate bodies that run buildings, down to the kind of curtains they buy. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends, in and out of the artworld about the concept - everyone gets it. 29
One of these days it will be shorthand. You’ll be chatting to someone in ten years time, and they will go ‘oh, don’t you start white-curtaining me’ - and everybody will know what it means. It’s simple and familiar enough to enter the popular imagination.
Conceptual art in these times needs to be like that: intriguing enough and familiar enough. You go ‘what is that’? and the explanation has to be 30 seconds. Then it sits in people’s minds. There’s a story in it. They turn it round and round again. It grows.
V: What was your favourite part of the process? J: The artists meetings (after getting through the difficulties with the logistics of co-ordinating our schedules). I thought it was an interesting way of working - discussing and developing ideas from the work of other artists, and with the curators. I’m very glad to have been included in the project. I like working with you, with all of you guys. Your idea of collaboration and each artist influencing the next is a really good one.
I also really liked the Sea Point venue. It was fun having people come fresh into an art space, asking ‘what is going on here? Are you selling TVs?’ I liked hearing the responses when we spoke about what we were trying to do.
V: I remember when we were together outside of the Sea Point exhibition, and this one woman came and we tried to encourage her together to come in. She told you that she is afraid, and you said that maybe it’s because of the table cloth that made the space look like a fortune telling place. Then you wrote her comment in the comment book.
What was your previous relationship with Sea Point?
J: For me it has always been more of a weekend destination, a place you go for recreation. It’s the autumn-afternoon-walks kind of place. V: Is there hope for Sea Point? J: I think there’s hope for Sea Point. There are enough people wanting to shift. They don’t necessarily know how. A lot of them are dulled by cellphones and other toys- consumerism. I think there will be small shifts. 30
V: What did you think about the exhibition when it relocated to Michaelis Art School? J: I personally was seduced by the idea of a beautiful white space - the white cube with the good lighting. I didn’t really understand your expectations for it. I was approaching it as an exhibition, and Naz was approaching it as a piece of social theatre. She was much more interested in the conversations and the social provocations.
The exhibition gave the people on campus food for thought, but it might have been more interesting to redevelop the exhibition before showing it at Michaelis. To have all the conversations and workshops building up to a different exhibition. I would like to to see more artworks coming out of this process.
V: Do you suggest opening the exhibition for more entries? J: Yes. Michealis is a space where there are all these artists, wannabe artists and commentators. It is tempting to find out - ‘If this isn’t the work that says what needs to be said - then show us what it is’. There must be lecturers with works that relate to those issues. V: Those conversations did start in the events that we hosted, but didn’t fully reach the potential. To take it forward we would need more time and more collaboration with the teachers. Those students are running after deadlines all day long. We asked for an extension to stay in the gallery, but did not get it. Now the gallery is empty, which is ironic. 31
Where do you see the project going next?
J: Open call and some more contributions to expand it. Maybe it’s more practical to do that online. Ask for people to make comments through their work rather than through speeches. V: Why are you an artist? J: Making art is about processing experience, emotion and observations. In the process you make something worthwhile to communicate with other people. V: What motivates your art practice? J: I am moved for personal reasons. I make objects to keep myself happy. That’s how I work with the world. But I also want to take work to other people and have conversations. ‘If a piece of theatre without an audience is just a rehearsal, then what is an artwork without an audience?’ - that quote from Usha Seejarim does inform some of what I do. V: Do you feel that your work has social impact? J: In a very minor way. V: Do you feel a wind of change in the country these days? J: There’s a small wind. I just think that the structural pressures are bigger than the wind. The rising costs and straining infrastructure are pushing people harder than the wind of change. A lot of people are just responding in frustration. It is there, but it’s not as big as the northwester yet. V: What colour curtain do you have in your home? J: I’ve hung some of the white lace curtains in my home. I have blue ones in my bedroom.
Ntone Edjabe in conversation with
V: What colour curtain do you have in your home? M: Brown. I think that where I live it is in accordance with the laws. In some parts of Sea Point it can be brown blinds as opposed to white curtains. They will probably be against white blinds. We have pot plants, in crates, very colourful crates - the same like those that we used for the video installation in the exhibition - they were not happy about those colourful crates that are not pots. V: Who are â€˜theyâ€™? M: The people who live there, the people who own it, who control it, the body corporate. All of them. Everyone except me. 34
V: What made you decide to say yes to the invitation to participate in the White Curtains project? M: I immediately related to the idea. I’m aware of it. I didn’t know the facts or the statistics of White Curtains as dominating that way, but I did have a very intuitive sense of it. Also for cultural capital reasons: it’s good to do things if they are in line with where you are at, and can help you move forward in terms of skills, connections, and the broader programme. N: If you ran into a stranger and had to describe briefly what White Curtains project is, how would you put it? M: It’s like you are colouring-in something and someone imposes which colour it has to be. It’s a very nice metaphor. We do not all want the same colour, we are not all about the same dish or the same language. We are plural. That’s something you need to be able to take for granted - that every single thing is plural. How can you expect to be in a space with so many people, and that it’s gonna be... no. There is no standard. How can you even think that it is possible to make a standard. V: And how can you succeed in it. M: It’s crazy. There’s no sense. People want to colour-in different colours. That’s what I think it’s about. V: Is there hope for Sea Point? M: Yeah. Nothing is hopeless. It’s implied in acknowledging that everything is plural. Naturally it is going to be plural, it has to be. Sea Point is a nicely kept hub, or a microcosm of a bigger project, the project of washing. It’s impressive but that can never be an eternal situation. There will always be something fighting back until it is how it is naturally - what has been called the logical conclusion. V: This one week we spent in the empty shop at Adlephi centre with the exhibition, made me much more optimistic. This sense of pluralism that you talk of, that’s when I felt it move from theory into something very tangible. That Freedom Station we established – it showed that pluralism is there. M: It’s there. We just need to shake. 35
V: What inspired the artwork that you produced for the project? When I came to you I had a concrete idea of what I want and you didn’t… M: That was the starting point. I engaged with it a little bit, but also tried to bring in how I see things. It’s more about process than anything. I just took a camera and started checking out Sea Point. I did not imagine it before starting. That’s how I shoot - I don’t calculate, I just hold a camera, come back and see what I shot. Everything you want to say at some level will come through because you are taking in things that you see and feel in the immediate moment. That’s how I try to engage video. I’m just connecting to the idea in a loose emotional process. Similar to dancing, singing, it’s an improvised body thing. V: What was your favorite part of the process? M: Shooting. It’s very interesting and valuable. I have a lot of footage. I have a mini-archive of everyday things in Sea Point. V: What guided your selection process when you started editing? M: Things came up in different ways. The first one was based on your idea of a video, which is visually nice with critical text.
The next one was the video with the two layers. I just remembered some of the images with shakiness, and in retrospect I felt that that shakiness captured some of what I see in Sea Point. The chaos of all the people and the life. And all of that points to plurality for me. And so that video, depicting everyday life, everyday difference, is also trying to bring a feeling of that chaos. The process and the outcome were essentially a product of the environment. And that was my sense of the environment.
The video with the colour was very conceptual, a parody of conceptual art. It was just about washing. It’s not special - but I like it. When someone kicks you – you just throw something at them. That’s what this video is about for me: ‘You throw white at me - I’m gonna throw colour on you! And I’m gonna wash you with yellow.’ I like the immature reaction, but I’m not necessarily promoting it. The red face
performance is connected to this, just another colour that you just wash. I’m talking essentially about transgression.
Another video came about when I saw Mr. Price store late at night as I was walking home. It was funny how the manikins are just standing there, looking back at you. It’s easy to walk pass it, we walk pass it all the time, it’s trivial. But it’s absurd - this thing standing. Go look at it. I find in general manikins are absurd. It’s bodies, but they are not people, and they are just posing. They are very standardized: Most of them are white and some don’t have heads. I did it because it makes me curious, I find it strange. I’m drawn to absurdity. It exists in Sea Point, and it is a reflection of that space. If someone doesn’t understand the exhibition conceptually – they will just be looking at a manikin and wouldn’t make that connection.
N: Did any story stand out in your memory from the project? M: There was a moment when my sister was asking why my eyes are so red. V: The day she was around was a good one. M: I also liked the reason, the moments that led to my eyes being red. On the roof of Adelphi centre. Sometimes I go into that centre, and I remember that. I have a connection to that place as a space where I want to go back. Now when I’m coming here to buy things, wash my clothes, to get beer - I think about it sometimes. V: It’s a nice way to mark territory. A personal landmark. M: When you work somewhere or live somewhere - you leave something of yourself there. You are not just passing through. V: What do you think about the move that the exhibition made from Sea Point to Michaelis? M: I liked it better in Sea Point. It had more tangible purpose. Actively engaging people, not just through what is called art and goes on in an exhibition, but through an idea of art that is more interactive with people and space. I don’t mean art as painting or whatever, but the whole process as an art process. If the art is speaking directly to people - it makes sense.
In Michaelis it became more of an exhibition, the transition was moving away from an intervention. It’s showing ideas, as opposed to coming in and doing something. That’s how it is with exhibitions - they engage you only on the basis of what you are seeing. It’s just ‘come see my art,’ like we are giving only this and not more.
V: Where do you see the project going next? M: Sea Point. The issue is huge and we are dealing with it in different places. But as long as we are coming into the issue via Sea Point, we should be in Sea Point. The public spaces, the library, along the Main Road, the promenade, the pool - there is plenty of options and it is much needed. As part of Reclaim the City thing, there is an abandoned school there and activists are talking about turning it into a open creative public space. That’s a nice idea. V: Do you feel that your work has social impact? M: All work has social impact. Even if your work is not telling anyone to do anything - your impact is that you left everything the way it was when you came in. We have to be more active about its impact. If you want to make art for yourself - why are you making yourself an artist in the eye of the public? Do it at home. N: Why are you an artist? M: It comes to me very easily. I enjoy it. It’s an intuitive and emotional thing in my body. It’s the same way as with dancing - when you are on the dance floor you are enjoying. It’s not an active kind of communication, but there’s a language there. You are not trying to say anything in particular, or construct your meaning, but you are making meaning. I enjoy it, it comes to me easily and I want to do it. N: What motivates your art practice?
M: It’s a time and space when I can engage myself and my environment, the people, the nature or the structures. It’s a real conversation. I feel the need to talk to myself and to talk to my environment. The more important and difficult question is why am I communicating and what do I want to communicate. You want to talk to people because it has an impact for you. We are not just speaking and engaging for the sake
of it. Art is a public thing. You are an artist and people are looking at things that you communicate. On some level you have a responsibility to engage, very purposefully and make it very tangible. People are listening to you for a reason. Student passing by: Can I ask something? Did you ask him about his role in White Curtains project? It’s just weird because you are the curators, so I thought you know everything there is to know… how did you even choose him to be part of the thing? V: That happened before there was an artwork. It was more his identity that got him in and he was given free room to do whatever he wants. We never sat and rationalised it. Student: What sort of identity did you see? I’m also trying to be in group shows. I just want to know, I’m curious. N: It’s more of a sense, knowing what type of work he produces and that it can fit. And also having friends and connections. Student: I’m in fourth year now, so I have to know these things. They don’t teach us these things. V: Just be active and somebody will see it at some point and they will see what they can do with you. Don’t sit around. That was the way with Malik - you see him there and there and he enters your bank of people. You must have trust in the person, not the artwork. M: It’s easy to find yourself in a situation of waiting. It’s not an active position. Make your presence and action known when you engage with a space it engages back to you. N: Just by doing you create a space around you and that invites people in. Student: We have this class called theory and practice, and that’s what it is supposed to do - teach us how to get ourselves in the art world. M: They should just remove the ‘theory’ part. 40
Student: Right now they are teaching us about copy rights. They don’t really teach us how to navigate. I don’t even know if it is possible to teach us something like that. Do you think it is? V: The best way is just to throw somebody in the deep water and see if they can swim, but there are ways to prepare you for that. If I would have to structure that kind of a course, I would just bring a lot of people, like Malik, to tell their stories. And for you to look at a real example and ask ‘how did you do this or that.’ M: My engagement with art is about people. When you start engaging art as social, communal, collective thing - it’s not about your expression - it’s connected to tangible people, it can’t just be you. Studnet: It’s more about ‘who are you’ in relation to everyone else. M: Exactly, because there’s no you without everyone else.
Tshikare in conversation with
N: What is your connection to White Curtains? A: It started in Sea Point, where I live. White Curtains is a phenomenon about the different ways people are treating each other, based on what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. Being sort of put into a corner based on what other people want. I thought why has this been happening - based on how you’re dressed or what is allowed to shine from your house. Where I stay we have a small balcony, but they don’t like us to put our stuff on balconies, especially clothing. There are about ten tenants in the house, who all need to use the rails outside. We all can’t use it at the same time, so each one has to find their own way to dry clothes. Things like that started the whole connection. 44
N: How did you get involved in the project? A: Valerie asked me to participate, because she knows the type of artwork that I do. I’m constantly looking at iconic and heritage buildings. I knew about some buildings that were connected with what the White Curtains idea was talking about. Like the Methodist Church in Sea Point: In the 70s during the Apartheid era some of the priests there were liberal enough to work with people from different denominations and race groups, which was a taboo at the time. From that I started looking at other buildings. I thought how did it affect people in those days and compared to now. Some of the buildings are still there including the SABC building and how it was used as a medium of communication to shepherd people into a corner based on what information was put out. How it is being used today? We all know a lot of media houses belong to a certain group who has their own agendas. That’s sort of how all those things came together. N: What inspired your artwork for the project? A: The type of heritage that I’ve experienced in Cape Town. I’m working in Woodstock, one of the first “suburbs” in Cape Town, and there are a lot of heritage buildings here. Buildings are very important, but whom they are important to - that is a bigger issue. When a building gets put down because it’s not important to a certain person; when a whole community gets shut down and there’s a part of the community, which has an advantage of cash or whatever; all those issues brush against each other and one can come to a conclusion that there’s certain unfairness.
Buildings are easier for me because from the onset they don’t talk about colour, they talk about the place where they are and what they were for. From that you can start showing what’s going on around. Sea Point is full of that; Cape Town is full of that. Every single place that I’ve been to has things that have been destroyed or forgotten on purpose because of the issues that it needs to serve or the issues that it needs to shy away from. People have forgotten about the 90s bombing of the rock café, Planet Hollywood in the Waterfront, because the Waterfront is a prime destination, apparently it’s got the most visitors in Africa. Things like that are not mentioned or commemorated in any way. They get hidden and history is forgotten, while certain people are closed out of the way. There is a very big commercial push.
Buildings have more effect than what people realise, and that’s why I use them. N: What was your favorite part of the process? A: The research. You find out so much stuff that you didn’t know. You start looking at what is on the surface, and when you dig deeper, then you realise that there’s so much more. I think one of my favourite, not in a positive manner, is what I found out about Spin Street - children of the slaves used to spin silk in the tunnels of Spin Street. It was actually tunnels that were feeding the gardens for Jan Van Riebeeck and his homies. Today people know Spin Street as just being another street, but when you look at the history and where it comes from, you start thinking about it more. N: What do you think about the exhibition re-locating to Michaelis Art School? A: I think it’s actually a good thing. The Sea Point exhibition was for the general public, and Michaelis presents an opportunity to address younger people who have a bigger voice than they used to. You’ve seen the Rhodes Must Fall movement and all those types of things. Michaelis is a school situation, with younger people who are coming there. They still have fresh minds that haven’t yet been polluted with what they have to do, and they’re more explorative. It’s a good thing to see different angles and challenge systems at a younger age so that by the time you’re older, then you actually have more consciousness of what you’re doing. So it’s a really good way of challenging the mind of a first-year. N: Did any story stand out in your head from the project so far? A: The different types of people that came to the exhibition in Sea Point. We had people that were the ‘old schools’ that have lived in Sea Point for years and years, and they didn’t know a lot of the things that we were talking about. People that had negative physical interactions from the security forces in Sea Point came to tell their lament. I remember there was one lady and her daughter that came in and they had a story. They also couldn’t put out clothes in their windows, so they tried to ask about it and were just told ‘you need to agree with the system or move out.’ For a young person to be told things like that - it impacts your mind for the rest of your life.
There were also homeless guys that were visiting quite a lot. For them to be able to interact with people and also talk and tell their stories, in a space that was considered to be an art space, where people like that are usually not allowed, was a totally different thing. Then you start seeing what possibilities are out there, what things exclude and include people and how to be able to work around things like that and make sure it generally is open for everyone. Not everybody knows how art can change a culture, change times or situations. So it’s more open to everyone, and it’s grand.
N: How would you describe the project to a stranger briefly? A: White Curtains is the occurrence of differentiating in a couple of manners: class and money, and making those things rules and norms that almost don’t play themselves out. It’s almost like ‘we’re not saying this, we’re just advising this and if you don’t take this, then this is what’s going to happen.’
I can afford to live in Sea Point, but I want to do my own laundry. And if I do my own laundry, I want the clothes to be in a place where I can see them and monitor them in case it rains or the wind is wild. If somebody else wants to take their items to the laundry, then it’s for them. There are all these things that sort of play between each other according to what the rules and regulations are.
N: What motivates your art practice? A: My art practice is around challenging the status quo and talking from within myself. Because when I do art, I don’t want to be singled out as an ‘African’ or this and that… I like it to be Atang. I don’t want people to think that I am a representative of something. I represent myself and that’s it. So that’s how I usually start my work, where I go out and challenge ideas, but I make it attractive to the eye so you love it and then.... They go ‘oh I like this,’ but when they find out the real story then you start going ‘oh, okay so that’s what really happened.’ And when I look at the sculptural stuff I’m making, I’m taking stuff that Atang likes, Atang wants people to know about his culture.
One of my favourite examples is a piece called Monna Pele. It speaks about the vanguard and about the male as a pawn on a chessboard. In the African culture, when a lady is walking with her husband or brother, as they go into the house
- the guy would open the door and walk in first, to make sure there’s nobody inside and it’s totally safe. In the Western culture, it’s the opposite way - you open the door for the lady to walk in. Those are the things that are in the general consensus that can be challenged.
And you may ask why should we do that? It’s been indoctrinated over the years for people. With religion for example, people like my grandmother are so attached to Christianity, but before Christianity what was there? And with food as well, South African people especially the Bantu people, generations before us - we weren’t eating bread or corn, stuff that came with the newer generations. People were eating ‘mabele’, which is a totally different thing. People have totally forgotten about those things because people don’t talk, they don’t read or tell stories. They’ve become disillusioned. Now if you want to find out something all you need to do is go to your phone, Google something and that’s it. People don’t know how to get from point A to point B cause all you do is GPS. People have really changed and when I can, I like to challenge things like that.
N: Why are you an artist? A: It’s the only thing I believe I can express myself in. It’s the only thing that I want to do. It’s my life. It’s not something that I went and chose because I saw somebody else doing it. I just did it and then somebody called me an artist. ‘Ah, that’s what you’re doing.’ Then later on I was thinking ‘oh, but my dad does the same thing, ah, he’s an artist’ and then you start dividing into ‘oh he’s a surface designer, oh he’s a sculptor.’ But first and foremost you are an expression of yourself, which is a creator. As a creator, just like god, you’re an artist. N: Do you feel that your work has social impact?
A: Ja, hahaha… Somewhere in this world hopefully my work has a social impact. More and more I’m getting asked in media to comment on certain things, which I don’t know if I should. I’ve been asked to go do a talk with the Art and Culture Department in Joburg and in the Free State - they’re asking me to explain what I do so that people can understand how to do it themselves, not in a narcissistic way, but for example - how to be able to make a business out of what you do. For me, it’s a very important thing because a lot of
people are losing out, they don’t think they can be able to make a 9-5 life out of art or be able to create a living out of it. For me that’s the important thing: once you understand the freedom of what you want to do and you have the understanding of how to do it, that combination makes you live your life according to what you want and to be able to place a value on it. A lot of people end up doing things that they don’t like because they don’t know what else to do, it’s too risky to do anything new. With what they like, they only limit it to a hobby instead of a full time thing. It’s sad when you find things like that. I think as a social commentary that’s the type of thing that I’m trying to disprove.
I’m not trying to be political. I’m not trying to be about anything else except saying you can be an artist or creative and you can be able to make a life out of it. And this is what I’m doing. Constantly. Besides what I did with White Curtains, I work with two or three galleries in and outside South Africa and I also have Zabalazaa Designs, which does collaborations with different people. I’m totally independent. If I can do that and if other people can learn how to do that - then I’m commenting quite well I guess.
N: Is there hope for Sea Point? A: Ja, I think totally there is hope for Sea Point because it’s all relative to what people want from Sea Point. About ten years ago, apparently Sea Point was a really bad place with drug dealers and prostitutes and and and… It’s changed now you can be drunk out of your mind and still have a laptop and get home safely. There’s over-policing, which I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing. I’ve had experiences where I got searched profusely because I looked a certain way. I learnt why I was getting searched and how to deal with it and now I don’t get searched. Now I know how to challenge those securities and police and I open up a conversation. And then once you get through that point, then you know how they think, then you know how to talk to them and make sure they understand you. That’s the basic of it. No need for violence if there is understanding.
Everything is about communication. If you are able to communicate your idea clearly and make sure that the next person understands it, then there’s less of a manifestation of anger or any sort of thing that will get you pissed off with the next person.
Any place can be changed. South Africa can become better. We can get a new president who can actually help us. Whether he is smarter or dumber than the president we want, as long as we can communicate the ideas that we want, then things can go on.
N: What colour curtain do you have in your home? A: I have blinds actually and they’re brown. I have brown blinds all over the house. N: Where do you see the project going next? A: I think nationally. On a platform where it’s something that can work with a bigger space, not necessarily per meter, but into the presence that it fills. The people that acknowledge what they’ve seen or heard and they say we need this turned into a national gallery or into a certain type of space where it’s not just an exhibition, but it holds a bigger ground by itself. I don’t have an exact idea yet, but there’s a lot of potential and if people believe in an idea it’s up to them to be able to push it. I’ve been able to change my life in the last 5 years - anything can be done. You just need people to be able to commit and say ‘ja let’s give it a try.’ The exhibition traveled from Sea Point to Michaelis… at the beginning we thought ‘okay cool let’s try this’ and it worked and it changed a few things and people were like ‘huh’ and the next thing it’s like ‘okay let’s try the next step’ and it worked. N: Do you feel a wind of change in the country? A: Definitely! For example, I’ll give you one thing that I’m really happy that’s happening… more women are starting to realize their power more than they have in the past 10 years. And for me that’s really rad, especially because I work with two young ladies now and they tell me a lot of stuff that happens to them and what they go through. After that you go outside and you see what Tony Gum or Lady $kollie are doing - people are actually taking cognisance of who they are and they’re saying ‘this is something we do.’ So it’s not coming from your conventional point of the alpha male going ‘hey, I don’t like this let’s change it,’ it’s coming from students, it’s coming from people that have had enough of certain things and they’re going well ‘let’s do something about it. We not just going to sit in the corner and keep on knitting. We’re actually going to pick up a stone and throw it in the
window and show that guy we hate what you’re doing- you need to know what’s going on.’ If you look at a lot of the anti-gang, anti-drug campaigns that are being run, it’s more women than guys that are in there. When you look at that, you start saying ‘okay, it’s people that feel that they’ve had enough.’
Things are generally changing. I have friends, male friends that are fathers now and when I look at them compared to what our parents were I’m super proud. Some of the guys like two I can mention, Kent Lingeveldt and Marco Morgan. They skate every day, have babies, respect their wives, they have households and they have lives that are something that a lot of people look up to. They have their own independence and they are not millionaires, but at the same time they can absolutely afford to be able to have the life that they want. They make their own choices and those are good choices that they make. We can go out for a drink, after that he knows he’s going back to his baby and nappies are changed. Things like that are things that people 10 years ago didn’t think were possible because of the economic state, the political climate.
People are starting to take care of themselves and say ‘what do I want’ besides waiting for government and saying ‘I want a hand out.’ People are going ‘okay cool, here’s what I think I can do - let’s go do it.’ So definitely there is a lot of change and it’s good change.
N: Okay that’s a wrap! A: Yay, do I get a biscuit?
Saldulker in conversation
V: Do you remember how the idea of White Curtains was presented to you? N: It started at another exhibition. I was at the right place, at the right time, and met you. I followed up on that connection, and it ended up in the beginning of this project. It was that moment in time - all aligned effortlessly. It seemed like an intriguing starting point and an exhibition done in a different way. That challenged my understanding, which is something I was looking for, but didnâ€™t know what it looked like.
I remember not actually knowing what it was about. You just said it would be nice to have some help in curating. I read the proposal that you sent to VANSA and it seemed interesting. I understood the brief, but I didnâ€™t know what to expect.
V: I remember in one of the first times visiting together the empty shop in Sea Point, we went to sit at the promenade, in the playground on the grass. I asked you of your experience with Sea Point, and you told me about having ice cream or waffles with your cousin. One of the homeless guys that I became friends with during this process came to ask for a smoke. N: I saw him in the library the other day. V: I remember so fondly the way you got involved - it was so nice, so natural and fast. You came with a car - which made things simpler, but most important is that you complemented a lot of things that were not my strongest point - like the exhibition part. If you are the kind of curator who initiates something, when itâ€™s your project and you are not just logistically managing it - it doesnâ€™t make sense to work alone. You need to have at least two curators. N: Itâ€™s more fun, more manageable, more stimulating.
V: It’s more possible. When you are doing stuff, which is very innovative, experimental, which doesn’t fit into any pattern or template, in order to keep on believing and being motivated - you need another person. Otherwise it is easy to doubt.
Were you there when I was looking for an empty shop to do the pop-up exhibition?
N: You had it solved before. V: Not many things come to me so easy like finding this one owner who agreed to turn their empty shop into a pop-up gallery. My easy is still the fact that I went to more than 20 real-estate agencies and shops along Main Road Sea Point. The fact that one of them checked in without nagging is the easy part. N: So Adelphi Centre was the only one to respond? V: The only one. And they did it so nicely; Kathy wrote to me ‘yes we are interested!’ With explanation mark. No negotiation, nothing. N: Oh, Sea Point… I remember the day the key was locked inside the shop. We got a whole crew, so effortlessly. Madyungu and some other people just came, we hustled a screwdriver and ladder out of nowhere and opened the door. V: I remember Africa Centre said something about insurance for the TVs, which we borrowed, and I said ‘no, that’s just gambling against yourself.’ It was all just locked there with a funny key that now we know - can easily be broken in. It was such a nice space with the sun exactly in the right angle. And the neighbors were so nice. One by one. N: We even had wifi from the next-door coffee shop, and running opposite to the printing shop made our work easy. V: It was just perfect. N: What is your connection to White Curtains? V: The obvious connection is on the curatorial statement. On a philosophical level my connection to White Curtains is that it really nails my look at things. We live in times that we have all those democracies, this open market and globalisation, but
we actually feel powerless in connection to the structures. All those forces - all those governments, and corporates, inflation - they are actually an extension of us. This silly white curtains rule - it describes it well. It’s saying ‘yo, guys, look around - look what we all are creating.’
I often assume that everybody is looking at things like this, or at least should - if I may be judgmental. I’m often surprised to see how they don’t. Now looking back at the project, I think it was a nice way to communicate this apparently complex idea. I feel that the whole concept of social engineering and construction through creative practice, it really does that.
N: In a very simple way it looks at a much bigger metaphor. You can apply it to so much. V: And maybe it’s a good means to get people thinking and talking. N: What was your favorite part of the process? V: I obviously had many. One of which is the first conversation with Pamella, when she said she wants the exhibition for her To Let project with VANSA.
I remember on the Saturday when we launched the colouring book, and there were kids colouring and Nokulunga was there. The space was so nice and sunny. I just sat for a moment and actually coloured-in myself. It was my first time ever. Even after publishing the colouring book, I never actually did it. It was so nice and relaxing. That moment I checked in from a position of managing it, to being there.
N: I also had lots of moments, but what stands out is going to Sea Point everyday. Getting to know people in the area, saying hello, buying some fruit, people pop in, you chat, very small and insignificant conversations. Forming that relationship and feeling that you are part of their space now - it was really big. And seeing that this is what collaboration can look like. You talk about art with a social impact, but to be part of it is something else. It was a week, but felt so much longer. V: I just wanted to be there as much as possible.
N: Seeing the space full with leftovers of previous shops, salt and vinegar and paperwork, and then being cleared out and
turned into something else. To see something pop-up - it was all very inspiring.
Having all the artists there, pretty much every day. For people to be part of it from the beginning - setting up, installation. That was really nice, to get to know who Atang is, and Malik, not just some name that you type on a press release. Actually seeing them and getting to know them, spending time together, eating together, normal things that you do. That makes complete sense. How can you actually divide the two?
V: To me it’s artificial to imagine it otherwise, but that’s probably how it goes in most gallery contexts. It takes away the element of control. You open up the decisions to everyone. N: Things are definitely not done in the same way. V: What inspires your role in curating this project? N: It speaks to the approach that I want to be working in, creating in. Often the two don’t connect - your work speaking to your passion, your dreams, and your principals. Here it aligns so well. The motivation is there. The drive is there, because it comes from a real place. It isn’t constructed according to anyone else. That’s a truth to hold on to. V: What motivates me the most is the element of freedom station. Things are happening and you feel that you are creating a social space, the kind you want to see more of. N: Instead of talking about it - you are actually doing it. It’s that urgency for now. It’s strong and powerful. And fun. V: That’s the best part - when it’s fun, social fun. Party, discussion, and just chilling, nice vibe. N: And it relates to what you are experiencing, what’s going on around you now. Instead of looking what other people are doing and commenting on that. It’s what fed into it being successful.
Did any story stand out in your head from the project so far?
V: The last night when I came to uninstall the Sea Point exhibition. It was very sudden because Kathy basically emailed me on the day that she needs the shop clear tomorrow. It
was a reality check, but at the same time I welcomed it because I thought that it’s good to do it quickly. I was there alone and Kamyar came, and Andrew. We bought pizza, and just sat, ate and spoke. Kamyar told about Iran, Andrew told his story how he migrated from Kimberley via Joburg, and about his hustle. We just sat around the table with crates. It was very nice and relaxed. N: And from Michaelis? V: After Reclaim the City discussion and the party, I came back home with Thobs and she said ‘yo, I finally get what you are doing.’ She’s been my friend even before I knew what I was doing, and a big motivation for what I’m doing, but that was the first time that she saw a project of mine.
With Michaelis I felt I didn’t have enough of it somehow. I felt the potential, more than the thing itself. At the same time, it had a lot of moments. My ex-supervisor giving me the reviews that his students wrote was a highlight.
I also really enjoyed the day I went to Checkers head-office to get them to sell Frank’s book in the Sea Point branch. I took a train and got lost on the way. I met two really nice sales-people who got also lost. We ended up wondering together around the different stations, trying to find our way, walking around a lot. I don’t even remember the name of the place, but it is somewhere in the direction of Bellville, big industrial area. I ran out of airtime and texted you to try to tell them that I’m late. I arrived 2 hours late, and the buyer saw me. So that was a nice day. And it worked - we put a critical work of art on a supermarket shelf.
N: I remember that day we made lunch at the Sea Point space. We bought avocado and bread, borrowed a knife from one of the burger shops, spoke to them and got some little salt and pepper from the falafel shop down the road, and made all these sandwiches for everyone. We all stayed there quite late. It felt really comfortable. Raymond was there, Malik, Atang, Frank, you, the guy from the fruit stall was there, Andrew might have been there, Fidel, and other people.
V: And what story pops out from the Michaelis exhibition? N: Seeing people in the space, and than seeing them on campus every other day, speaking to them, checking in on their lives and what they are up to. Making friends. V: It’s wonderful, exchanging looks as if we share a cool secret. We become each other’s reminders of this good thing.
How would you describe the project briefly to a stranger? I always find it challenging. The deeper I go with a project, the harder it gets for me to say it simply. I discover so many layers.
N: It is a social alternative space, it’s to activate, to engage with conversation, a place to be and feel free, a space that doesn’t dictate how you react, you define that space. V: I remember my mother was talking to a friend, and she said to me that the friend asked did they change the laws after the White Curtains exhibition in Sea Point, to allow colourful curtains? I answered, ‘mom, it’s not about that. I couldn’t care less about their curtains. That’s not the theme at all.’
I would maybe say that it’s an introduction to contemporary politics. It’s a story of this neighborhood that decided somehow anonymously to have only white curtains. It serves as an example of how things operate around us: the use of cleanliness and beauty in a political power exchange. How banality of the everyday carries meanings.
N: It’s completely politics and art. My housemate was asking me what I do, I was telling her about my projects and my background - studying art and politics. Then I said that what I learned in university has nothing to do with my work. She said - ‘well, actually, what you do is political and it is art.’ It’s logic that you don’t see yourself.
Where do you see the project going next?
V: That’s something I like to think about in an exciting way. There are a lot of possibilities: trying to do statues on the promenade or a festival, to dress up as something Sea Pointy, but to have it around the theme. A mass thing. Even to have a conference of Body Corporates, dressed up as something else.
I enjoy playing with formats, dressing-up, disguising as other things. That excites me. But at the same time an exhibition was a nice thing to do. Michaelis was my first time doing a gallery, and it’s actually not so bad. There are a lot of possibilities within this context. So maybe The National Gallery. It’s quite a flexible concept.
Also there is an idea of doing a Khayelitsha colouring book, which can be an extension of the project. Not literally white curtains, but discovering the underlined. Re-staging the exhibition at Michaelis proved that it’s a mobile concept.
N: It can be implemented in different ways. It’s something that works - building a concept, something that’s recognizable. That has a big impact.
There’s a lot of interesting work we could do with Reclaim the City campaign. That could be an exciting collaboration. White Curtains highlights the issues that they are talking about. I think of it as a bigger freedom station, occupying a public space.
V: Another wishful extension that I have, a dream, is to do street poster campaign. Like those that Artscape and the Newspapers have. They are very predominant in Sea Point Main Road. For many years I wanted to just create a headline and put it on the streets. You can do that: ‘Sea Point Times: from now only white curtains allowed.’ To create some kind of provocation. It can be very easy and cheap, to see if that sparks a conversation.
But that’s a side-aspect. I agree with you when it comes to the space - that’s where we have it good. There you collect your data - it’s not only about delivering, but much about collecting and testing all the time. I think that we are good in creating spaces and environment in a space. It means people get you. The regulars they make the experience - the Raymonds, and the Andrews, the Kamyars, the Venuses, Gina and her boy, Ori the intern guy that came to the gallery. This is actually the shit. They are always not the expected ones. Even when Malik was hanging at the Michaelis gallery it was so cute.
N: They make the space. People having access to a space that’s all it is. And making a public space in a way private, personal. You occupy it, take ownership of it through using
it. It’s not this public space that you are not allowed to use or don’t even know you can access, let alone how. V: There is more power in a true public space. Like a Main Road. There is not a lot of those spaces in Cape Town. Maybe next time, wherever and whenever it is - it would be nice to have it longer. N: That’s where the sustainability comes in. V: That is going to have to guide us forward – addressing the sustainability. So far all this project cost R15,000. Officially. VANSA budget was R12,000 and Michaelis was R4,000, but we didn’t even use it all. That’s R15,000 to do everything and more. The irony is that the catalogue is going to cost R20,000. It’s ridiculously cheap. We basically did it volunteering. So it would be an interesting challenge to try to see how it can be commercially viable. How do you sell social commentary to people? N: By dressing it up. You have to disguise it. V: How do you keep it inclusive and still cash in? Malik is our financial motivator - his work presents a logistic challenge of sourcing five screens and players. Others we can just come and hang them. N: I think it’s the work that I engaged with the most. Just hearing it everyday. In the video you see something different every time. V: The power of his work is that it keeps on revealing itself. I’m so happy that he went and did it his way. When I approached him I had a very clear idea of a video in mind, which I wanted him to execute. But I couldn’t just come and say that, so I did leave some room - and he grabbed it. It would be so simplistic if he would do what I wanted him to do. N: It speaks to his way of making things. V: But this hustle with five televisions… that’s such a challenge.
N: Did I tell you what happened when we set up Malik’s video installation at Michaelis? We had the monitors, tested that the videos worked before, and thought it’s going to be very
simple. On the opening day the little disk that connects the TVs to allow them to stand wasn’t there. Those flat screens are quite fragile, so Malik and I thought it was best to make a plan and cable tie them to the crates. But that meant they might fall forward. Then we tried to hang them to the wall. For that we had to get a drill, and special screws, it was literally half an hour before opening. I had to do millions of other things and I still didn’t have Atang’s work at that point.
There I was with the drill, and Malik was positioning it. Then Malik had to go and leave me with it all. I said, ‘let’s just put it on the crates. They are not going to fall. Tomorrow we will hang them properly.’ But it just stayed for the whole exhibition like that. Even assembling which crates went where, Malik was saying we must rearrange it, the next day it just stayed the same…hahaaa.
V: That’s a metaphor of how we are doing things. And it works. N: You realise that you don’t need that checklist. I remember that Frank and Morning Pages had started setting up, and you were on the phone from Israel. My head was spinning. I went to try and print labels. As I came back the band was playing already. I thought - I actually don’t need any of this. With lighting none of it was right, but it doesn’t matter at all. Seeing people in the space, who are there - are meant to be there. So, I just sat down and enjoyed the music and atmosphere. V: We always had the best people. One by one. Even when it was little - it had very good groove. It’s nice the collaboration with Morning Pages. I really like to work with them, they are easy. N: They add another component all together. Their music goes very well with the concept. V: And Caitlin’s hair goes well with Janet’s curtains. N: I had no idea how it was going to fit with Michaelis. V: Me too. I just liked the idea of duplicating an existing exhibition. Maybe in the back of my mind there were ideas, but not concrete. I had a conversation with Frank trying to answer together this question - of why we are going to Michaelis,
what is the meaning of that, and then it somehow grew on the project. In Sea Point the White Curtains are very obvious, but they do exist in other spaces.
I feel that even though Sea Point was more the ultimate thing, a very site-specific intervention, Michaelis showed the potential of growth for this project. It highlighted the universal component of White Curtains.
ART ACTIVISM VS GENTRIFICATION:
Towards a revolutionary reconstruction of the entire social environment
at Reclaim the City discussion, 8 April 2016, UCT Michaelis School of Fine Art, White Curtains Exhibition By
By the time Lewis Mumford wrote, “The Culture of Cities” in 1938, it was already clear that merely dividing up for working-class occupation the quarters occupied by the richer classes was an inadequate solution to the housing question. Such a scheme failed to recognise ‘how far the environment of the upper classes themselves had become impoverished,’ how ‘the standards embodied in the more pretentious residences were below those which were desirable for human life,’ and how ‘the upper class quarters were, more often than not, intolerable super-slums.’ Rather, Mumford proposed that what is really required is ‘a revolutionary reconstruction of the entire social environment.’ For me, a life-long resident of Sea Point, this hidden poverty and desolation of super-slums is the most important white curtain that the original exhibition White Curtains highlighted and more so, began to solve. Valerie Geselev uses the wonderful term ‘social engineering’ as the title for one of her talks and I think this is exactly what is needed. Social engineering is what spaces like the exhibition we are in right now - are actually all about. Almost nobody I know who resides in Sea Point, even white people, actually have what could be called a life there. Because there is no life there. These places paint themselves as some sort of paradise because they are located in areas of incredible natural beauty, but socially speaking they are desert. There is no culture. There is no social life. Other than passively contemplating the pretty surroundings, there is basically nothing to do besides to get drunk at a bar, stuff your face at a restaurant, or have a cappuccino on the pavement savouring the sights, sounds and smells of exhaust fumes. All this is structurally built into the urban design of the place. There is no community because there are no significant rela-
tionships between the individual people that share the space, or between the people as a whole and the space itself, other than commercial interactions. Outside of work, our relationship to the physical space we inhabit is less real than our relationship to cyberspace. No wonder people spend more time interacting with their TVs, computers and cell phones than they do interacting with the actual material conditions in which they live. When a group of revolutionary artists started talking about the society of the spectacle and defined proletarians as those who are aware of having no control over the conditions of their own lives, this is what they meant. What the original White Curtains exhibition in Sea Point did was attempt to subvert that urban design, that habitually arid environment, to take over a space within the desert and create a temporary oasis. It tried to demonstrate, through its very existence, another way of inhabiting space and time, another way of relating to one another and our environment. Instead of talking about what might be possible in theory (which is also necessary) it wanted to show us in practice what â€˜a revolutionary reconstruction of the entire social environmentâ€™ might look like on the ground. This is precisely my interest in the Reclaim the City campaign. Mumford calls conurbations such as Cape Town, non-cities. The absence of any social life, communal space and culture affects us all every single day, whether we are conscious of it or not. Any
significant movement in Reclaim the City will necessarily involve the housing question, but it will have to involve a whole lot else too. Most importantly it will depend on the creative activity of ordinary people like us rather than the bureaucratic utopias of governments. Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack-dwellers organisation based in KZN, claimed ‘there is no democracy for us in the state; the only democracy for us is the one we create ourselves.’ This is even truer with the sort of cultural revolution we are talking about here. Initially I got involved in Reclaim the City when some comrades of mine had talked about taking over a vacant building in the city and opening it up into the sort of space that was temporarily created by the White Curtains exhibition and the Harare Academy of Inspiration in Khayelitsha. One of the buildings we identified, Tafelberg School in Sea Point, is the current focus of the campaign. My first experience of the march to that site was very significant. For the first time in my 20 years of living there, it expressed the voices, aspirations and needs of the workers and homeless of Sea Point. The voices of the “undesirable elements” that white curtains are designed to hide, were expressed in a way that could not be ignored or swept under the carpet. Creative interventions could well be the start of an important and exciting movement in which we might all participate, one way or another, for our own benefit.
A Brief History of Sea Point Real Estate
The true story of an apartment block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road in Sea Point, its one live-in employee, and his 27 years waiting for hot water. By
William Macmillan and
Apartheid legislation known as the Group Areas Act comes into force, making it illegal for Black people to own or occupy property in areas proclaimed as White – the only exceptions, for occupation, were domestic workers and caretakers who were allowed to live in the area, but without their families.
A block of about 25 apartments is constructed between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road in Sea Point. It includes cramped accommodation for domestic workers and a caretaker.
Sea Point undergoes ethnic cleansing as the Tramway Road settlement is destroyed. Individual Black families owning or occupying houses and flats in the area are also removed.
Female domestic workers are evicted from their small “maids’ rooms” at the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road, and these are converted into garages. The last surviving Black occupant of the block is a male caretaker.
Twenty one year old Mr S succeeds his brother in his job as the caretaker of the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road. His starting salary is R79.00 a week. His duties include security, gardening, cleaning and some maintenance.
As South Africa makes the transition to democracy, the Body Corporate enables the caretaker’s family to live with him – in spite of some opposition. That arrangement lasts about a decade until he is able, with the help of his wife (a domestic servant working in Green Point), to buy an RDP house north of Cape Town.
An attempt to provide the caretaker with hot water and a shower is thwarted by some members of the Body Corporate of the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road. This attempt to improve his living conditions prompts moves, which had to be resisted, towards his eviction and outsourcing.
Census figures record that about 17% of the population of 16,000 of the Sea Point ward is Black and that population is predominantly female. About 11% of the whole population is working in “elementary occupations,” which would include caretakers and domestic workers.
A new co-owner of a flat in the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road raises concerns about the employment conditions of the caretaker – he has no valid contract of employment and is living in a poorly ventilated room without hot water or a shower.
The caretaker of the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road gets a valid contract, a living wage, and hot water, after a year of obstruction and some resistance from within the Body Corporate.
Pressure group Ndifuna Ukwazi (literally “I want to know,” but translated as “Dare to Know”) launches the “Reclaim the City” campaign for affordable housing for low-paid workers, including caretakers and domestic workers, in Sea Point, and against the sale of municipal property, such as the site of Tafelberg Remedial School, for commercial development. The installation of a shower for the caretaker on the block between Ocean View Drive and High Level Road awaits planning permission from the City Council.
This timeline is derived from a longer article, “‘We used to work together’: Life & Times of a caretaker in Sea Point,” which appears in the Bulletin of the National Library, June 2016. The article points to the legacy of Apartheid in areas such as Sea Point, and the problem of management of an apartment block through a Body Corporate in which all owners (though not tenants who may make up the majority of the residents) are responsible for the welfare of their sole employee.
Homing In: Nomusa By
Paradoxes of the City
“[The city is] spectacular in the most oppressive sense of the word” - David Harvey 2005 When asked: “Do you feel at home here?” participants to a discussion held in relation to White Curtains exhibition at Michaelis Galleries responded by saying, “we come here to work, we can’t expect it to be like home,” or “if you’re not happy here, then go create your own, alternative spaces.” These two responses, one seemingly defeatist and the other appealing to resourcefulness, have been on my mind since then. The first response is significant in many ways because it forces us to think carefully about the socio-economic politics of the distinctions between home and work. It triggers the image of busses and taxis full of people who travel distances daily to work in the city, to make the city and then leave. It triggers the image of those who work in other people’s homes and those who sanitize the ‘spectacular’ city. It also reminds us that under neoliberal capitalism, ‘home’ is not a social concept but rather it is space as commodity. Home, as real-estate private property, therefore symbolizes contours of systemic social exclusion. Neil Smith’s (1992: 58) apt observation about homelessness shows the exclusionary nature of home as bought private space. Evicted from the private spaces of the real-estate market, homeless people occupy the public spaces, but their consequent presence in the urban landscape is fiercely contested. Their visibility is consistently erased by institutional efforts to move them elsewhere to shelters, out of buildings and parks, to poor neighborhoods, out of the city, to other marginal spaces. Evicted people are also erased by the desperate personal campaigns of the housed to see no homeless, even as they step over bodies in the street. This ongoing erasure from the public gaze is reinforced by media stereotypes that either blame the victims and thereby justify their studied invisibility or else drown them in such lugubrious sentimentality that they are rendered helpless, social gumbies, the pathetic Other, excused from active civic responsibility and denied person-hood.
‘This observation resonates with the sense of homelessness that is felt in South Africa and in its higher education institutions, generally. A majority of South Africans continue to be alienated or experience the public sphere as “strangers at home”. Michael Neocosmos (2006: 29) shows that apartheid “denationalised” or alienated “the African subjects of the South African state.” The wave of student protests in South African institutions of higher education have called attention to continued senses of homelessness, of not belonging. In what ways can an institution of higher education be considered ‘home’? Could it be an intellectual ‘home’ for the children of those who labour in other people’s homes? The double paradox lies in the fact that that sense of homelessness does not arise as a result of being “evicted” from private space, as in the observation made by Smith. That sense of homelessness is felt by students who are paying to occupy such spaces and workers who pay through labour. This also draws attention to forms of denied citizenship in the post-apartheid context. In light of this, it might seem odd to suggest that we create additional alternative spaces and find ways of being resourceful in marginal spaces. The romantic proposition of alternative spaces has had popularity because it critiques alienating social mobility and opts for abandoning the city centre and its institutions and returning to ‘communities’ to make them work. There are many reasons (which I will not necessarily mention here) why this proposition is important. The most significant one is that it offers spaces of collective empowerment through destabilising social hierarchies sustained through spatial politics. There is of course an ironic uneasiness that comes with it, in that, in a segregated context like South Africa, returning to alternative spaces seems to unintentionally palliate and restore race and class divisions.
Spatial politics are central considering that the student movements and collectives that have shaped the current political climate in South Africa did so not as outsiders to the institution but as insiders who are experiencing a system that insists on defining them as outsiders. In this way, spatial definitions must be seen as relational. The institution reproduces its other. The city reproduces the townships through accumulation by dispossession (Harvey 2004) and the townships produce the city through binding wage-labour. The call for change has directed attention to structures of exclusion and the production of difference. Space does not contain social action but is produced through and reproduces social relations. It is, therefore, im-
portant to recognize the significance of how spaces are experienced in relation to how they are socially engineered. Spatial politics – who belongs where and who has rights or power to produce spaces – exacerbate social antagonisms. Drawing from T. J. Clark, Marxist geographer David Harvey (2005: 23) shows how capital “did not need to have a representation of itself laid out upon the ground in bricks and mortar, or inscribed as a map in the minds of its city dwellers” rather “it preferred the city not to be an image – not to have form, not to be accessible to the imagination, to readings and misreadings, to a conflict of claims on its space - in order that it might mass-produce an image of its own to put in the place of those it destroyed.” Homing is therefore the perpetual struggle in re-formulating the right to be ‘in place’ and to re-imagine space not as commodity but as site for social engagement. ‘Homing in’, to focus on, appeals to the illusions of social stability and progress created through casting the city of Cape Town as a spectacular utopia. This is what makes the exhibition White Curtains significant. It raises the poignant social relations involved in sanitizing the city, and its institutions. As a metaphor, “white curtains” is paradoxical in that it connotes covering up while it also theatricalises. The spectacle, the show, the clean homogenous façade of body-corporate regulated buildings, conceals the labour of those from townships and the brutal continual removal of people rendered homeless. White Curtains points out and highlights a tragedy. We become aware how the aestheticising of suburban and city homes can signal social decay and destruction. References: Harvey, D. 2004. ‘The “New” Imperialism: Accumulation by Dispossession’, Socialist Register, 40: 63-87 Harvey, D. 2005. ‘The Political Economy of Public Space’ in Low, S. and Smith, N. (eds), The Politics of Public Space, Routledge, New York. Neocosmos, M. 2006. ‘From ‘Foreign Natives’ to ‘Native Foreigners’: Explaining Xenophobia in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, Dakar, Senegal: CODESRIA. 29–30 Smith, N. 1992. ‘Contours of a Spatialized Politics: Homeless Vehicles and the Production of Geographical Scale,’ Social Text, 33: 54-81
Inside Information: 5 moments from Sea Point life By
1. Coffee shop This comes to you from a café deep in the heart of Sea Point. Thirty-four of the 39 people here are the same colour as their curtains, probably: white. Apologies for getting to the point so unsubtly, but this is neither about boring, enforced décor choices nor petty power wielded by small people with big ambitions. Instead, it’s about the fear of and consequent resistance to change. Because who knows what the future will look like if we don’t keep the present under firm control.
2. Doctor’s office “You must vote DA (Democratic Alliance), hey,” a doctor’s receptionist in the Adelphi Centre breezily told a patient who had remarked on what a fine place Sea Point was to live. “We need to keep it this way.” Keep it white, she might have said - people and curtains both. It seems one of those does not believe it can survive and prosper without the other. Or, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “Politics is the art of controlling your environment… Anybody who thinks that ‘it doesn’t matter who’s president’ has never been drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid war on the other side of the world — or been beaten and gassed by police for trespassing on public property … That is when it matters who is president or governor or police chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.” So vote DA, hey... 82
Thompson is telling Sea Point what it knows already, what it peeped at from behind its white curtains not many years ago, when a significant amount of the money in the area came from the sale and purchase of drugs by the residents of buildings whose owners couldn’t give a damn what went on there as long as the rent was paid on time. The subsequent clean-up restored a semblance of order, from a middle class perspective. The curtains that remained were white. So were most of the people. Gone, thanks to rising property prices, was Sea Point’s chance to be part of an African city instead of a scene from a Woody Allen movie.
3. On the doorstep I have lived with my wife on London Road in Sea Point since June 2014. The Atlantic slaps and roars just a few hundred metres away. Everything is accessible by bicycle, including six major supermarkets, a large members-only gym, a slew of yoga studios, at least three bookstores, and Indian, Chinese, Italian, Greek, French and Mexican restaurants. Cafés have we many. But unease lurks beyond those white curtains. It is stirred by the truth hiding in plain sight that almost all the people behind them are of a matching shade and that almost all the people on the pavements outside are darker and homeless. Recently, I came home to find a man propping up the wall outside our building. It was late afternoon and the sun was setting over the sea. The chill of an autumn evening seeped up the street. The man had laid out a blanket. He was silent, beaten in more ways than one. My thought was to give him something to eat. My neighbour’s was to use a garden hose to spray him out of our sight and our minds.
4. Body-Corporate meeting At one of our Body Corporate’s annual meetings we were given a presentation on the advantages of employing a private company to patrol our street - men on segways wearing cycle helmets and dayglo bibs. They would, we were told, maintain a “visible security presence” and could also keep the homeless “under control.” By which it was meant they erase these people from our view. But where would they go? And wouldn’t the money we would spend on paying for this service be better spent on trying to alleviate the plight of the homeless rather than adding to their misery and making them someone else’s problem? The offer was not taken up, and for those reasons. As we climbed the stairs back to our apartment we congratulated ourselves on our compassion. Then we locked the door and drew the curtains. Ours are off-white.
5. In a theatre play But what if the white people Sea Point succeeds in controlling to within an inch of their sentience could look beyond the blackness of those who continue to be targeted - sometimes insidiously, sometimes not - for exclusion? Nicholas Spagnoletti, a Sea Point stalwart, asked and answered that question in his award winning play, “London Road.” Rosa and Stella live in the same apartment block on London Road. Rosa is an old Jewish woman who is all but estranged from her adult children. Stella is a Nigerian drug dealer. So far, so stereotypical.
But Spagnoletti ventures beyond the clichés in a way few of us would do: We think too easily that what we see on Sea Point’s streets is what we would get if we could venture beyond other people’s white curtains. In one scene Rosa lets Stella in on her hobby... Rosa: “Come, let me show you a trick I learned in Hillbrow that helped me pass the time when I was nursing Isaac.” (Rosa gets a set of binoculars) Stella: “What is this for?” Rosa: “The simple and ancient joy of watching people.” Stella: (laughing) “You surprise me Rosa.” Rosa: “In that block, the second flat from the right on the top floor, you see where the light is on – well that window there is the bathroom, and there lives the most gorgeous young black man who stands there for hours drying himself and looking at himself in the mirror.” Stella: “You are a dirty one hey! (She looks through the binoculars where Rosa is pointing) I see him!” Rosa: “Is he naked?” Stella: “Topless! Not bad. Not bad at all.” Rosa: “Who needs satellite television?” Gradually, the two women see past themselves and discover that under their skins and their contrasting cultures they are people living in the same world - on the same street and in the same block, even.
It’s quite a blunt space It’s sanitised Black life which is there is in the services Of course that’s got its own vibe Taxis are really cool They run all the time Life is a bit marginalized there It’s strange because it has a CBD feel about it but it’s very whitewashed CBD From soundscape of plurisphere by Malik Ntone Edjabe
Isn’t it such an absurd thing that a whole body corporate sat down, went through paperwork after paperwork, in a space like Sea Point which is deeply problematic. There are issues, there are things that are there, besides white curtains. That should be the problem. And maybe that’s the thing. These social structures that we adhere to are absurd. The absurdity of it all! Come on – curtains? It’s ridiculous to think that somebody thought about this as something that is an issue. There are issues. I guess this is telling of the issues that we as creatives face in this world - what is the big men up there are concerned with. How much paperwork it took to get everybody to have white curtains and then to penalise people on that? Participant in ‘Politics of Art, and the Art of Politics’ discussion, held at White Curtains exhibition, UCT Hiddingh Campus
Sea Point Freedom Station 27 August â€“ 3 September 2015 Shop B6, Adelphi Centre, 277 Main Road Sea Point, Cape Town
Checkers book launch 13 December 2015 The Point Mall, 76 Regent Road Sea Point, Cape Town
Michaelis Freedom Station 21 March â€“ 8 April 2016 Bindery Gallery, Hiddingh Campus UCT 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town
Obs Freedom Station 1-17 April 2016 The Drawing Room, 87 Station Road Observatory, Cape Town
Public Library interventions 29 September 2015 Sea Point Library, Cape Town 11 June 2016 Observatory Library, Cape Town
All images are photographed by Valeria Geselev, unless otherwise stated
PAGE 3 – a sign on Sea Point promenade, Cape Town PAGES 6-7, 69 – Sea Point PAGES 10-11 – a white curtain in the Sea Point flat where it all started PAGE 12 – Nokulunga Zondo on her way to the Sea Point exhibition PAGE 13 – Nokulunga’s poem ‘My White Curtain’ hanging outside The Drawing Room, Observatory exhibition PAGE 14 – Nokulunga’s first poetry compilation, produced for the project, on show at the Sea Point exhibition PAGE 17 – Nokulunga’s poem ‘My White Curtain’ projected at the Michaelis exhibition
PAGE 27 – Janet’s sculptured curtains at the Michaelis exhibition [photographed by KyuSang Q Lee] PAGE 28 – visitors interacting with Janet’s installation at the Michaelis exhibition closing party PAGE 31 – Janet’s nude study drawings, which were part of her installation ‘Who am I to Blow against the Wind’ [photographed by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 32 – installation view of Janet’s curtains at the Sea Point exhibition opening [photographed by Ashley Smith] PAGE 34 – Malik Ntone Edjabe performing ‘Red Face’ intervention on Main Road, Sea Point
PAGE 18 – Frank Lunar doing live drawing at the Sea Point exhibition
PAGE 37 – screen shots from Malik’s 5-channel video “Plurisphere” (https://youtu. be/HAizadJ8BfE)
PAGE 19 – a page from Frank’s ‘White Curtains’ colour-in book
PAGE 41 – Malik’s videos, installation view at the Sea Point exhibition
PAGE 20 - ‘White Curtains’ colour-in books [photographed by Ashley Smith]
PAGE 42 – a student watching Malik’s videos at the Michaelis exhibition
PAGE 22 – pages from Frank’s book laid out for visitors’ colouring at Michaelis exhibition [photographed by KyuSang Q Lee]
PAGE 44 – Atang Tshikare creating a window mural at the Sea Point exhibition
PAGE 23 – winner of the colour-in competition of ‘White Curtains’ book, Sea Point exhibition PAGES 24-25 – Frank’s illustrations for ‘White Curtains’ colour-in book at the Michaelis exhibition [photographed by KyuSang Q Lee] PAGE 26 – Janet Ranson hangs her sculptured curtains at The Drawing Room, Observatory exhibition
PAGES 45-46 – Atang’s drawings “Echo Location”, installation view at the Sea Point Exhibition [photographed by Ashley Smith] PAGE 49 – two of Atang’s drawings, depicting historic views of the Adelphi Centre, an iconic building in Sea Point, where the first exhibition was held [photographed by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 53 – installation view of Atang’s drawings, minus one which was gifted to Kathy, at the Michaelis exhibition [photographed by KyuSang Q Lee] 128
PAGE 56 – Naz Saldulker writing a ‘watch this space’ sign on the window of Sea Point exhibition venue PAGE 57 – Valeria Geselev helping Janet to hang her installation at the Observatory exhibition [photographed by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 61 – Valeria and Naz talking to the Sea Pont public library book club about the project, drawn by Frank Lunar PAGE 62 – Valeria, Nokulunga, Atang, Naz and Frank after another happy day at the Sea Point exhibition [photographed by anonymous passer by] PAGE 67 – Sea Point exhibition opening night [photographed by Ashley Smith] PAGE 70 – Siddiq Khan at ‘Reclaim the City’ discussion, Michaelis exhibition PAGE 71 – installation view of Malik’s video, Observatory exhibition PAGE 73 – a participant in the ‘White Curtains’ colouring activity at the Observatory public library PAGES 78-79 – ‘The Politics of Art and the Art of Politics’ discussion at the Michaelis exhibition PAGE 81 – a student completing a questionnaire, distributed on campus as part of Michaelis exhibition PAGE 86 – from the visitors’ book of comments, Sea Point exhibition PAGES 110-111 – street view of the shop where the Sea Point exhibition took place: before, during and after [top photograph by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 112 – Body corporate meeting and colouring competition, amongst the activities hosted at the Sea Point exhibition PAGE 113 – Morning Pages performance on a Friday morning and a DJ Shasha at the closing party, amongst the activities hosted at the Sea Point exhibition [bottom photograph by Sukuma Sukummah] 129
PAGE 114 – Sea Point exhibition closing party and the regular visitor Raymond at the opening night [top photograph by Naz Saldulker and bottom photograph by Ashley Smith] PAGE 115 – Malik’s ‘Red Face’ intervention on Main Road Sea Point, distributing flyers in search of more information regarding the white curtains custom PAGE 116 – ‘White Curtains’ colouring books on the shelves of Checkers, Sea Point PAGE 117 – Frank and Valeria with the first buyers of the book in Checkers, and Frank’s live drawing intervention by the store entrance PAGE 119 – ‘the politics of place and art as self-liberation’ discussion by Anna Selmeczi and Morning Pages performance, amongst the activities hosted at the Michaelis exhibition [top photograph by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 120 – chalk teasers and Malik’s ‘Red Face’ intervention on Hiddingh campus, amongst the activities around the Michaelis exhibition [bottom screen shot from video by Dada Khanyisa] PAGE 121 – Kopano Maroga speaking at ‘Reclaim the City’ discussion and Valeria creates chalk-directions on campus, amongst the activities around the Michaelis exhibition [bottom photograph by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 122 – Michaelis exhibition closing party and Valeria’s talk on public art with first year fine art students [bottom photograph by Naz Saldulker] PAGE 123 – party and discussion, amongst activities around the Michaelis exhibition PAGES 124-125 – installation views of Frank’s drawings, Janet’s installation and the curatorial text at The Drawing Room, Observatory PAGE 126 – participants of the colouring activity with their ‘White Curtains’ exhibition at the Observatory public library PAGE 127 – participants of the ‘White Curtains’ colouring activities at the Observatory (top) and Sea Point (bottom) public libraries
White Curtains Concept: Valeria Geselev Editors: Naz Saldulker Valeria Geselev Artists: Nokulunga Zondo Frank Lunar Janet Ranson Malik Ntone Edjabe Atang Tshikare Curators: Valeria Geselev Naz Saldulker Texts: Nomusa Makhubu Telford Vice Siddiq Khan Hugh William Macmillan Lucy Valerie Graham
Photography: Naz Saldulker Valeria Geselev KyuSang Q Lee Ashley Smith Dada Khanyisa Sukuma Sukummah Graphic Design: Carlos Marzia Printed: Hansa Published: Yalla Shoola Curatorial Practice Print-run: 30 ISBN: 978-0-620-73014-3 Contact: email@example.com +27(0)715501427 facebook.com/whitecurtainsbook
THANK YOU! African Freedom Station Anna Selmeczi Andrew André van Heerden (The Sign Company) Ben V Candice and Derek Allison (The Drawing Room) Chiccos Café David (Melta Creations) Ethel Ntlahla (Africa Centre) Fidel Kamyar Bineshtarigh Karen Press Kathy Barnaschone and Lulamile Madyungu (Adelphi Centre) Kopano Maroga Lynette Bester Matthew Hirsch (Atlantic Sun) Michal Singer Molemo Moiloa (VANSA) Morning Pages Nadia Ismail (Observatory Library) Nkule Mabaso (Michaelis Galleries) Pamella Dlungwana Ra Mava Ntontela Raymond Davids Robert de Reuck and Anthony-John Fielies (Checkers) Roni Snitcher (Sea Point Library) Shahana Saldulker Shane Clarke (The Printing Press) Shasha Seakamela Stuart (Funky Frames) The Dream Hair Wizardz Gardens Wordsworth Sea Point team Zara Julius
>>VANSA> visual arts network of south africa
The making of White Curtains curatorial project (Cape Town 2015-2016) ________________________________________________ Concept: Valeria Gese...