on Saturday June 6th.
In part a house-warming, farewell for University of Michigan friends and colleagues and Kagiso ‘Man Purple’ Mnisi’s birthday party, the joint raised art for the FRONTLINE art auction to raise funds for keleketla community art and resource centre.
Employing minimal email invitations and held at an unfamiliar venue, Stokvel Frekuency was a success, with close to 50 people turning up. Some of the planned elements such as the radio experiment and creative recycling did not take place due to late delivery of sound equipment. However, the visual art show was well done, all seven artists; Nhlanhla Mngadi, Mfundi ‘Rassik’ Mkhize, Mphapho Ra Hlasane, Thabiso Sekgala, Matthwes Jabu Tshuma, Nkosinathi Quwe and Lehlohonolo Mashaba presenting an array of quality works on paper.
Curated with the idea of a shared and exchanged lifestyle rather than forced thematic coherence, it was remarkable how themes intertwined in the show. For example, Tolo, Nhlanhla and Thabiso’s photographic work shared common concerns with documentary, fashion, dress and typography on architecture, with Tolo and Nhlanhla working with one model in particular!
The three artists shared the small room as you enter the cottage, which doubled up as a DJ booth. The works in this room are bold, confident and authoritative from both technical and content point of view.
More visual overlaps, particularly around medium and process took place in the main room where Ra, Rassik, Jabu, Lehlohonolo and Nathi showed works on paper. In here more interesting connections continued, with emphasis on processes that takes photography to another level. Rassik works with photographic images that are stenciled and painted in acrylic. Jabu draws with ink, cynotype, found objects like tapes and through camera-less photography of cynotype, while Nathi combines pen/ink drawing with silkscreen.
Suggestive image text landscapes feature in the work of Ra, Lehlohonolo and Nathi. Ra combines photographic imagery and text with spraypaint and pastels while Lehlohonolo reproduces press text through silkscreen. Nathi’s work is dense with black and white contrasty images of wolves, children and men over dreamy architecture. While echoing the vibrant photography in the first section in terms of text/image, the work of these three cats is dense and melancholic. That’s when Rassik drops a red, black and white painting of one bold blues songstress. More serious comic relief comes through Jabu’s pieces of cassette players and tapes with text that reads Vukani Mawethu People Arise!
There is a wealth of issues raised by this show, ranging from art education and practice, to conventional vs alternative exhibition spaces. These issues are further amplified by the superimposition of collectivity and guerilla tactics to curation, ultimately pointing towards the role and value of the artist in the community.
I’m writing from the position of an insider and therefore know 80% of the people who rocked up to the show. Without any sinister intentions, I know that about 50% of those do not frequent art galleries, nor read about or even discuss art. In this light, resounding success lies in art education and appreciation that Stokvel Frekuency created. Stokvel Frekuency takes art and combines it with popular culture i.e. music, food and table soccer thereby creating a new audience that is not new after all. Sharing art with people whom we already share so much as opposed to the x-amount per square metre walls of what is regarded as conventional and viable. I am not saying that one should disregard commercial art spaces, after all art is a career for some of us. What I am applauding is the guerilla tactics that offers an opportunity for feedback, dialogue and therefore growth and confidence. I also applaud the invaluable experience created by this approach, whereby young artists learn about curating for its own sake without a budget of any kind.
Reinvention of lived spaces is one of the goals of our model of a stokvel, in this case space offered young artists a platform for audience.
The curation of the show could have been deeper and the presentation slicker that’s for sure. However, the vision is bold and clear enough. work of art is pointless without context. Gallerists are concerned with commerce. I do believe that artists do not and should not create work without a care for content. And if artists care about what they say, they therefore care about who reads their work. Artists have a role in the creation and development of relevant audience for themselves and each other. An audience that the work created yearns for. This audience may not necessarily put food on the artist’s table; perhaps food for the soul is due. A visual art show sharing space with 750 ml’s, table soccer, home cooked meals, electronica, nostalgia, dancehall and a packed dance floor is, for me at least closer to home than otherwise. Furthermore, Stokvel as we know it is about to go through some dramatic innovation. Half of the work on show is donated to the FRONTLINE art auction to support an after school programme and youth media lab to exetend the ongoing keleketla!library at the Drill Hall, Jozi.
Taryn Mckei and Nosizwe Mji cooked the most delicious of veggie and mutton curries, sold at R15 a plate the food flew out of the pots before one could scream yummy! Ms Buttons and Lebo killed both of their sets, and artist-moonlighting-as-a-selector Nathi made a surprising killing behind the decks.
The table soccer proved to be the hub of the Stokvel. Afterall, Troyeville is a stone throw away from Ellis Park and Joburg stadiums!
Watch this space for a Stokvel near you.
Crew by Crew.