stokvel-same ol’ different goal

Stokvel Frekuency


on Saturday June 6th.

nostalgia is the neo pop
nostalgia is the neo pop

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.

Nhlanhla Mngadi, Hawkers Welcome, 2004, FibaPrint on cotton paper, 5/10
Nhlanhla Mngadi, Hawkers Welcome, 2004, FibaPrint on cotton paper, 5/10

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!

Tolo Pule, Untitled, 2007
Tolo Pule, Untitled, 2007

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.

Nkosinathi Quwe, From the Little Boy's Room (detail), 2005, pen, ink and silscreen on wallpaper
Nkosinathi Quwe, From the Little Boy's Room (detail), 2005, pen, ink and silscreen on wallpaper

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.

in-house guerilla tactics
in-house guerrilla tactics

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.

my man calls it electronica&nostalgia, whateva it is, ms buttons rules-full stop...
my man calls it electronica & nostalgia, whateva it is, MsButtons rules-full stop...

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.


14 thoughts on “stokvel-same ol’ different goal

  1. damn…this is a killa review, Ra…I felt as though I was there while reading it. I know y’all had loadsa fun and I look forward to the next Stokvel…so will many other peops who read this.

  2. thanks Sibongile. next time we SKYPE you. you are a powerful force no matter how far you are.

  3. nyce one
    very inspiring
    would dig to see more of Rassik’s work

  4. thanks ‘nothinggal’ you will see Rassik’s work on the donation post coming soon…much respect*1ne

  5. I think I missed a ton. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I love the review. Fierce!! Lol

  6. yes Carla! you missed out…lol…sal good tho…thanks for droppin in…

  7. in saturday’s session we decided that we would reflect on the stokvel using the blog…these are my thoughts

    big ups::::

    the organisational unit of the event held the core together in a way that made participation possible and enjoyable. i.e. i helped cook…this was a pleasure because the ingredients had been bought and the pots had been sourced…this is true i suspect for the artists and the dj’s too….the environment was enabling and this was the result of a core group of people keeping their eye on several balls

    there was a real engagement and participation from people around the idea of creating a liberated space for profiling art…the amount of visual art that was in the space was really quite something…given’s work in the space was also great and ofcourse the dj’s represented…

    the venue worked…ra’s sectional title community is the best…no complaints about noise blah blah blah….

    was it a stokvel?? what is a stokvel??? does it even matter?? these are the questions i left with…i feel as though i attended a gig in which art was platformed and i had the option of buying some stuff…was that the intention…i think a key growth for this initiative lies in us clarifying what our intentions are with the space and then clearly thinking through ways in which we can make these come to life…the party was schitzophrenic in nature (housewarming/stokvel/farewell) which is fine if a stokvel is a party…i’m just not really clear that that is what it is though…

    it’s funni but somewhere along the line we formed a family…a group of people who love each others company and find meaning and relevance in socialising, reasoning and building together….so with this stokvel it’s not improbable to leave saying, “everyone was there!” but who is this everyone and is family possibly another word for clique?? i think our continued relevance lies in expanding and stretching the spectrum of people who have access to our spaces…

    maybe a more focused, clear engagement with the art and reason for the event?? while i know this has the capacity to become contrived, especially when people are under the impression that they are going to a party, but if we are clear about what we are doing and why, i think we could deepen the experience for those who share our objectives…so in my mind i’m thinking about the film/cooking sessions or the book club that inner city did at the drill hall some time ago…people there weren’t confused when a conversation began about a book because that is what they were expecting….in the same way if you arrive at the street art stokvel and u walk into visual artists sharing expereinces and disecting texts about guerilla exhibition tactics in the interest of economic survival while at the same time chilling, eating, drinking and smokin; this would make sense…?

    with all this said and done, nuff respect to all those who gave and continue give in awe inspiring ways…and for the courage that this requires…!

  8. taryn is right about making stokvel much more meaningful by adding engaging concepts like she mentioned but we also had a few of those e.g creative recycling which people were suppose to participate in and a radio session (city X and Sub-ether Radio). The issue I saw when reflecting on it was logistics and time, reasons why activities that were there that night creative recycling and the radio session didn’t happen. For the 18th, what ever is needed should be there before hand; connected sound & studio, stalls set up… so when it start it should free flow. Peace to “t” for the food, that was nice course I was a zombi and MAD tired by the time I ate.

  9. well rounded commentary, i’m diggin!

    Kadro you are right, most of the missed opportunities in Stokvel # 1 is around logistics and planning sessions [doubling up as reflection spaces]
    we had very few of those.
    the exciting positive energies towards the actualization of a stokvel, experimental and “schizophrenic” allowed for too much space for dreaming, a feat on its own. however, along the way we missed a few things.

    just what it is that makes it a stokvel? awesome question T, the answer is tested through action, but very little conversation around why this thing is a stokvel. i don’t know if it is, and it doesn’t matter, does i matter if we use the term stokvel? i don’t know. personally, i quite enjoy the matchmaking in all of these, because it feels like a family tree.

    sometime ago zamo asked as to whether we are replacing the money part of a stokvel and redefining currency?

    i would say we are, and have been even before we began exploring stokvel. what is becoming evident is that there is a sense and acts of solidarity, community and willingness to participate. more dj’s playing for no fee and people donating equipment and facilities from pots to cords to mixers and cars.

    its like “your gig is my gig, as long as i believe in what you do i will help you spread the word, using my preferred media and capacity”.

    the communal exchange taking place in our stokvel is equivalent to the monetary currency in traditional stokvel, trust [as opposed to expectation] being the common thread running thru these variations.

    there has been a growth of more derivatives of stokvels in recent times, with even varying objectives. for example, Ascass stokvel club used to raise funds to create an award for the best performing matriculant in Atteridgeville. the same stokvel club contributed to the funeral of some children who died in a drowning accident.

    i agree with taryn indeed our growth lies in 1) clearly defined objectives and plans of action and 2) expansion of our horizons, and by extension our views. there is one indication of how this is already happening; themes,
    this stokvel was themed around visual art [lack of intentional dialogue notwithstanding], the next one on musical collaboration and education, the third one, another avenue another point of view.

    the relevance of all these different themes is the expansion of our views and growing our circles. cooperative participation runs through the themes; resource generation, management, sharing and regeneration. resource can be anything; new knowledge, joy, money, connections…

    i appreciate the experimental nature of the stokvel, which allows for action and reflection. this leads to a shared capacity to make it better the next time. the fun part in it is that the next stokvel is themed differently, presenting different challenges, thinking and doing.

    on that note, i think Stokvel # 2 considered some if not most of the challenges and growth areas reflected upon here so i am proud of us!

    see you on 17, 18 and 19 July, Stokvel Weekend SPECIAL EDITION

  10. was a dope gig…..let me know when you do it again…..will be a great pleasure to play for the masses again

  11. you are family dog…its happening last weekend of September…you are on

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