Saturday 25, October 2oo8
AMC media lab, 555, Detroit
The workshop took place at the Allied Media Conference/Detroit Summer lab at the 555 Galleries/Studios on Grand Avenue, Detroit.
555 is an exciting multi-use space housing studios for visual artists, a multi-media magazine publisher [like SWART!] apparel designer, video artists, as well as galleries.
Check out http://www.555arts.org/ for more information.
Nadia Abou-Karr is a multi-tasking [who’s not these days??] and committed community organizer working with high school kids from Detroit, on media literacy projects. Nadia is also involved with the Allied Media Conference [AMC], an annual gathering of key community organizers, activists, educators and artists who share strategies for the democratic use of media techniques. Trained as an artist at Wayne State University and life, Nadia is a gifted printmaker.
Rangoato Hlasane is an artist, activist and community organizer. University of Johannesburg Fine Art M candidate in the research field of Arts and Social Change, Ra also works with hip hop collectives in the inner city of Jozi exploring ways of building communities using the arts for social activism and economic development.
Part 1 – A Map
We worked with 5 teenagers from 3 Detroit high schools. The aim is simple. The learners each create a zine to speak to Jozi kids.
We started with a mapping exercise, facilitated by yours trully. A very action based and active activity that allows individuals in a group to map their route to the common gathering place [in this case the 555] for a common cause. This is done using a masking tape, markers, pens, coloured papers and other cool things one can think of.
We start by identifying the compass as in North, West, South, East and mark the 555 as the common place. From there each one of us use the masking tape as the ‘route’ taken from home to the 555. After marking the route, one then start reflecting on the symbols, landmarks and things that define their route, write or draw them on a piece of paper, and stick them along their ‘route’. In this way, we all get a sense of each others neighbourhoods. This helps one to start paying attention to stuff that may seem unimportant as we encounter them on a dialy basis, but may be a resource of some sort. This exercise is adapted from a strategy used by Marcus Neustetter, an artist and a prolific ‘mapper’ from Jozi, co-owner of the Premises gallery and the Trinity Session check http://www.onair.co.za/broadcast/ for more info on Marcus.
The purpose of the mapping exercise was to create visual and conceptual reference for the making of the zines. So that the kids can create a sense of their environment in their zines, in that way, allowing Jozi kids to experience subjective aspects of Detroit.
Part 2 – Zine making
We had plenty of scrap that we picked up from a recycling centre that morning. Nadia had also briefed the kids to bring along material such as paper, photographs, clips and any form of reference reflective of their neighbourhoods to use for the zines.
It was remarkable how quickly zines came to life, and the variety of styles employed. Very heartwarming to experience so much inventiveness and creativity! We decided to just focus on design and less writing. The idea is that the next workshop will take place in early December, where the kids will write notes for Johannesburg in their zines.
We are looking at a suitable date in December to do the writing workshop. In the meantime, we are also exploring a way to show the zines at a space like the 555 galleries before they hit the atlantic ocean for Jozi.
This was a very exciting workshop that went by very fast, four hours was good but not enough it seemed. I was very impressed with the concentration levels of the young ones, going at it like that without a break.
I also feel very honoured to have been welcomed into the Detroit scene.
Thank you to Nadia, the kids and the media lab. Looking forward to the next one…
love, peace and good health