speakersbox spotlight Travelreport

South Africa
September - November 2003
Johannesburg - Pretoria - Durban

In 2002 I visited South Africa to initiate Weather Report and to promote the Hope Box Art Event (see travel-report).
Now I return together with two Weather Reporters Harry van der Woud & Walter van Broekhuizen to bring and carry the Hope Box to Africa. Walter & Harry are the curators of this Hope Box Art Event which means they have made the selection, prepared the 'hottest' Weather Reports and will arrange the exhibition in each venue in South Africa. This new concept means that the exhibition looks at it's best and that I can fully concentrate on the organization and logistics.

Hope Box Art Event in Johannesburg:

Johannesburg Art Gallery
29 September to 17 October 2003

The Johannesburg Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in Johannesburg. JAG is situated in Joubert Park where in the days of apartheid only white people were allowed to come. Now the Park's reputation amongst whites is such that few ever go there. Amidst international and local superstars like Bacon and Kentridge, Harry & Walter mount the Hope Box exhibition while I prepare the Cadavre Exquis workshops and Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe. During the first days we meet up with the Joburg Weather Reporters: Ilse Edit Pahl, Usha Seejarim and Mbongeni Buthelezi.The cooperation between Esther Vinke and Christian Stephen on the Hope Box South Africa Folder proofs to be successful as heaps are soon distributed round South Africa. Although there is a titbit fuss with another venue the cooperation with JAG and especially with their curator Brenton Maart works smoothly.
In the occasion of the workshops a 'Textual Cadavre Exquis' is initiated for the website Artthrobb. October 5 the Hope Box Art Event kicks off in the JAG.

from Harry's notes on the trip:
"fresh from Amsterdam we're dropped of in the middle of Johannesburg, Joubert Park at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Gallery may give the wrong impression, it's a museum like what the Stedelijk is for Amsterdam. As Rienke writes the neighbourhood is considered notorious, I guess most of the people who visit South Africa only go to Jo-burg for a visit to the apartheids museum and then go off to a wild park. But the longer you stay in Jo-burg the more you also see the other side of this energetic city. South Africa has the best running economy of Africa as a whole so it's a magnet, with Jo-burg as it's center. After leaving Jo-burg one tends to miss the qui vive state of mind that automatically becomes an asset not needed in neatly arranged Holland."

Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-shows in Johannesburg

15 - 17 October
Lapeng is a child and family resource centre in Joubert Park. Lapeng's main purpose is to develop a safety net for at-risk children and families in the inner city area, through creative, artistic activities. In cooperation with Bié Venter and Jones Mathebula several Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe shows are performed with the Lapeng children in the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Lapeng is strategically well situated on the other side of the Joubert Park. Thus making it easy to pick up the children from there and stroll through the park to JAG. Artist Karen Ben Zeev records a video-reportage of Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe in JAG. Storyteller François Venter performs the story Seven Fears dynamically and it proofs to be inspiring. On my question what to do when afraid one of the children answers: "You have to be strong and believe in yourself."

Cadavre Exquis Workshops in Johannesburg

15 - 16 October 2003
Ezekiel Budeli, Brenton Maart, Sthembiso Alamini, Usha Seejarim, Senzo Nhlapho, Harry van der Woud, Thabo Molapo, Walter van Broekhuizen, Kasiso Ratlou, Mbongeni Buthelezi, Ilse Edit Pahl en Rienke Enghardt, In 2002 Charles Nkosi of the Funda Art Centre in Soweto and I discuss the possibility to work together in the Hope Box Art Event. Now artists connected to Funda, Weather Reporters and invited artists are gathered in the JAG. Amidst the Hope Box works of art Harry & Walter create a Cadavre Exquis workshop area with individual works of art of the Hope Box artists present as well as an inviting Cadavre Exquis table in the middle of the room. Traditional Cadavre Exquises as well as Cadavre Exquis portraits, murals and table-cloth come into being as well as a digital freeze-frame video-collage. Edible Art, the Cadavre Exquis Sandwich-man, comes into being together with prêt a porter outfits for the performance on the Finissage.

from Harry's notes on the trip:
"Walter & I cooked up the sandwich man to be presented at the finnisage. A guy with breasts that can be eaten entirely, top to bottom. Food, drinks, performance & finnisage all in one. With the kind support of the Jo-burg Art Gallery we visit a supermarket in one of the many malls, shopping in supermarkets abroad is special in itself. Together with Brenton, Ilse, Walter & Rienke we fill up a shopping trolley with all kinds of stuff. In the afternoon, while the workshop is successful and t-shirts & hats are created later on to be used during the performance, Ilse Walter & me prepare & wash the food, an hour before the finnisage joined by Usha who has filmed the workshop. We start making the sandwich man, on a large flat socle from the museum (we used all kinds of stuff from the museum during our stay, William from the workshop of the JAG is indispensable, he always knows a solution, or makes one). Together with artists & students from Soweto & the Funda Art Centre we carry the socle in procession to the exhibition. The hungry crowd swallows the sandwich man , tired but satisfied we're surprised to see how soon he/she disappears."

Finissage in Johannesburg Art Gallery

16 October 2003
Speakers: Rochelle Keene, Director of the Johannesburg Art Gallery & Margriet Leemhuis, Head of Press & Cultural Affairs of the Royal Netherlands Embassy
Performance: Cadavre Exquis Sandwich-man.
After presenting a knife to Rochelle and Margriet to cut out the heart of the Sandwich-man the crowdcan dig in. Getting a crowd at openings in Joburg is said to be difficult. Getting an interested one even more. This finissage is fair since there is a fine crowd and according to Usha & Raj loving and really wanting to be there.

Hope Box Art Event Pretoria and Durban:
18 October - 3 November 2003
(The Hope Box Art Event takes place nearly simultaneously in Mind's I, Pretoria and in NSA Gallery, Durban.)
Mind's I Gallery in Pretoria
Mind's I Gallery is a spacious and well organized artist's run gallery right on the edge of one of Pretoria's many malls. October 18 Mari Grobler, picks us up from JAG. The next day Walter and Harry start mounting the exhibition, while local Weather Reporter Diek Grobler, artist Rheta Buitenbach & I prepare shows, workshop and the Vernissage & Finissage. The other Pretorian Weather Reporter Titus Matiyane joins us the next day bringing along a work of art of 40 meters.
19 October 2003, Pretoria, Vernissage in Mind's I
Speaker: mr. Eduard Middeldorp, Deputy Ambassador

NSA Gallery in Durban

20-31 October 2003
After the vernissage in Pretoria Diek joins us to go to Durban, Ilse Edith Pahl is teaming up with us there as well. NSA is one of the leading contemporary art venues in South Africa. Our curator-boykes get every cooperation from equally leading NSA-curator Storm Janse van Rensburg. As said before all Hope Box exhibitions curated by Walter & Harry look 'tight' (a South African expression for extremely good). I am especially taken by the way they mount the Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe tent of kites using the lighting system to lift it right in the heart of the two storeys of the NSA.

21 October 2003, Durban Opening NSA Gallery
Speaker: Storm Janse van Rensburg, Curator NSA Art Gallery
Cadavre Exquis Gathering table with Joburg table-cloth and wine where Hope Box artists present: Greg Streak, Langa Magwa, Harry van der Woud, Ilse Edit Pahl, Walter van Broekhuizen, Diek Grobler, Gabi Nghobo and Rienke Enghardt, initiate the traditional Cadavre Exquis with the public.

In bringing the Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe in Durban I cooperate with Doung Anwar Jahangeer. Doung is an experimental architect who presents The Parking Plot Project in the Multimedia Room of the NSA Gallery.

"In the gap between two forms of movement, the space between two ways of perceiving and interacting, parking lots offer the opportunity to participate in and perceive urban cultural and social landscapes differently. As the by-products of the automobile, parking lots constitute compelling lost spaces, spaces that have been established as vacant and undesirable in people's perception. At the same time the project opens up a window to people who are perceived to be 'undesirable' by society, that are too the product of urbanization: street children, vagrants, the homeless. A long term vision would be to explore what these 'undesirable' elements have to offer in regenerating the city on a physical and individual level." Doung Anwar Jahangeer

from Harry's notes on the trip: "As there is little time between the opening in Pretoria & Durban we fly over to Durban to avoid an 8 hour long drive. We're busy in the NSA for two days, the last day is also the opening day. When Walter, Diek, Rienke & Doung ask me to join them to eat something just about an hour before the opening I decide to stay by myself, drink a beer at the terrace of the NSA and work a little on my notes in solitude. Well, this certainly doesn't work out, as soon as I'm sitting at a table, the people from Warwick Junction arrive, together with homeless people that are part of Doung's project in the Multimedia Room, multimedia indeed! As there is no one else they gather around me. Belinda refers to me as 'bossy' much to my surprise. There's also some sort of magician part of the group complete with large hat with yellow stars. Soon I find out they cannot read so Belinda wants to know how much the beer costs that I'm drinking, in order to find out how much money she needs for the whole group to have a drink, I help out by calculating the amount of money that is needed. After the beers she shares with me all the things that happened to her constitution, amongst others the story of her leg & why she has to walk on crutches. So I end up not making notes but collecting them."

In preparation for Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Doung and I visit the Thuthukani Harm Reduction Centre. Doung has worked with Thuthukani before. The street children who take shelter there are brought in by the police and referred to as Streetlights. We would like the Streetlights to participate in Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe so we discuss this with Thuthukani coordinator Michael Mkhize. Michael is careful with exposing the children to programs outside their own and wants to know every detail about Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe. After visiting Thuthukani Doung and I go to Warwick Junction where Belinda Petterson, Phu Phu, Moses Fano Nxumalo & Paul are living in so called shacks. Belinda, Phu Phu, Paul and Moses cooperate in Doung's Parking Plot Project and most of Belinda's shack is reconstructed in the Multimedia Room of the NSA gallery. Belinda is a remarkable person, though physically fragile she is mentally very strong. Doung became friends with her while working on his project and helped her get medical treatment. Belinda does the laundry for several other homeless people for a living. When we are there her neighbour, an Englishman who tried his luck here but got bankrupt twice losing two households with it, collects his laundry. He has a job the following day and needs to look at his best. Belinda's dream is to start a home-made soup-service. There are many more people living in shacks at Warwick Junction and we pay a visit to some of them. One of the women tells me about the gangs aiming at them the most vulnerable, and making them pay for 'protection'. For example most public toilets are areas where the homeless have to pay the gangs to get in.
Belinda says personal hygiene is most important for them and there is a desperate need for facilities like toilets, rubbish-disposals etc…"We have to be patient", says Belinda. People in the Warwick junction try to make the best of life and one can see superb creativity in the construction of some of the shacks although bulldozers can squash them anytime. It is evident that anyone of us could be in a situation like this given the difficult situation people are facing here. It is hard to imagine being evenly strong.

Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-shows in Durban

29 - 31 November 2003
In cooperation with Thuthukani staff and Doung it is made possible to pick-up the children in the morning and bring them back in the late afternoon.
In my previous visit to Durban I was introduced to Gcina Mhlophe a famous storyteller, favourite of Nelson Mandela. Everyone knows her from storytelling performances, books and television appearances. She is very busy and has to make great effort to make time for the show. Because Gcina cannot make it to all the shows she introduces me to Ayanda Moon Mabija a young protégé of Gcina. The first day both storytellers are present and the storytelling is most spectacular as well as long & lovely in Zulu & English. The children enjoy it tremendously. After discussion the stories and drawing passionately, the drawings are exhibited in the sky on the beach. The kites go up easily presenting proudly Heaven-art by the streetlights of Durban!
Doung creates a video-reportage of Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe in Durban.

Cadavre Exquis Workshops in Durban

29 -30 October 2003
Langa Magwa, Thando Mama, Walter van Broekhuizen, Doung Anwar Jahangeer, Harry van der Woud, Heleen, Bjorn Boyens, Rienke Enghardt, Raksha, Nathi Gumede, and more…
To get inspired the artists and Thuthukani's older boys (16yrs) are being treated to several stories performed by Ayanda. Traditional Cadavre Exquises and art-kites come into being during the Cadavre Exquis workshops. After the workshop these kites are also exhibited in sky!

30 October 2003, Durban, Finissage in NSA Gallery On the finissage Doung's video-reportage of the shows and workshop is projected on the wall of the NSA Gallery. All Thuthukani's children and the CE-artists are present. A small (interested & loving) crowd joins us bringing food and drink. A South African Braai (BBQ) closes the Hope Box in Durban.

Just before leaving Durban Belinda, Doung and I go to Thuthukani to say goodbye. When I am about to walk away one of the boys steps forward to give me a bunch of flowers. Those flowers symbolize to me the highlight of my stay given to me by the streetlights of Durban.

Cadavre Exquis Workshops in Pretoria 31 October 2003
Diek Grobler, Retha Buitenbach, Mari Grobler, Ilse Edit Pahl, Walter van Broekhuizen, Bié Venter, Harry van der Woud, Rienke Enghardt and many more. Straight after dismounting the Hope Box Art Event in Durban we leave for Pretoria where we go directly to the Finissage. When we arrive Ilse is already initiating the traditional Cadavre Exquis drawing on a long table. Diek has initiated a Cadavre Exquis floor-installation by 'shooting' each visitor and outlining their body on the floor. The Finissage is short & sweet; after a warm welcome and introducing the band, the band disappears. The crowd disappears after filling the whole gallery with traces of their exquisite corpses.

Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-shows in Pretoria

1 - 3 November
Via adverts in several newspapers Mind's I invites children to participate in the Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-show. Actress Mareli Minnaar impresses the children with a stunning fairytale look and performance. Mareli's story is fantastic and it provokes a lot of speculation with the kids about the motives of the main character in the story. After drawing fabulously we try to fly the kite from the roof of the mall but alas no wind. Diek Grobler creates the video registration of the Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-show in Pretoria.

Hope Box Art Event South Africa Artistic result

The video-registrations are added to the compilation video-collage of Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Art-shows worldwide. The drawings by the children will become part of the satellite-Art-kite and a selection of Cadavre Exquis works of art are included in the Hope Box travelling exhibition.


Mail & Guardian, (3, 10 October) Fine Art, Recommended, Kathryn Smith City of Johannesburg Official Website:
A travelling Art Event stops in Joburg, Bontle Moeng.
Artthrob: Textual Cadavre Exquis, Walter van Broekhuizen,Usha Seejarim, Mbongeni Buthelezi, Harry van der Woud, Karen Ben Zeev.
Beeld, (23 October), Elders mooi weer...nes hier, Leone van Niekerk
Mail & Guardian, (24-10) Artpick of the week, Alex Sudheim
Mail & Guardian, (31-10) Tigerpaws in the Fishglobe Show in Mind's I, KSmith Artthrobb, Hope Box, Virginia Mc Kenny

Travel report by Rienke + parts from Harry's (Harry van der Woud) notes on the trip. Photo's: Walter van Broekhuizen, Harry van der Woud, Nathi Gumede, Storm Janse van Rensburg, and Rienke

Special thanks to everyone who participated in and contributed to the Hope Box in South Africa.

Don't say I hope it will get better,
don't even say I think it will get better,
say it will. Make it better.
Belinda Petterson