Curator: Danai Mupotsa
Co-curator: Naadira Patel
Visuals: Simphiwe Mlambo
Words: Ayabulela Mhlahlo
Project Assistant: Kirsty de Kock
The Johannesburg iteration of Power Talks is framed around the notion of Repair. Repair is offered as an orientation from which to think about the work that artists and collectives have operated in and through here; in awareness of the layers of conscious and unconscious attachments to repairing a relation to the city and what has been made and unmade in its cultural life.
This frame emerges from an engagement with the aesthetic practices and interventions operating in the various routes by and through which Johannesburg comes to operate as a specific site of intensity variously bound to, and yet often unattached to a singular orientation to territory and space. The forms of cultural and creative practice this programme draws its inspiration from are densely connected to the inter- and intramural modes of production, praxis and interventions with work, as well as with power. Our inspiration draws from the wealth of producers whose work engages multiple senses of this city, the sense of its culture and the modes of operation from which we might aim to engage with our provisional admission to it. This is work made notwithstanding the operational structures that locate capital, power, value and property in generating forms of this provisional admission; which also continue to structure the material and affective sense of space, culture and practice. This involves complex and layered orientations, confrontations and relations to the horizontal and vertical axes of power between our multiple and various positionalities, which shape the work, its sites of production and circulation. This programme is generated from processes of sitting with the work cultural producers make in troubling the effects of various disciplinary formations and where, or how they put in place sensibilities that are embedded in our publics about the proper subject of politics, appearing through the means by which various themes around this city, form, affect, power and practice come to be made:
History / Space / Mobility / Intensity / The ‘Political’ / Representation / Language / Performance / Cultural Practice / The Popular / The Intimate / The Icon / The Index / Archive / Affect / Isolation / The Body / Multiple Scales of Space
Each intervention has been intuitively made through gathering the layers of work, commitments, failures, provisional solidarities, interventions and the dreaming of so many who are operating in, through and around our spaces. We are also guided by our living present, where to think ‘repair’ is a space of assembling present/continuous forms of precarity, of grief, of simply trying our best. Each intervention approximates some opening to ‘talk’ that is multiple in its orientation to this notion - the cognitive, the conscious/ unconscious, the somatic, the affective - that mediate the sense of isolation made by recent presents and what they amplify of the past/present/future we might have otherwise more mundanely anticipated. Each intervention operates from the sensibility of holding as a critical tool from which we might engage with questions of power. Each intervention is a veneration of the makers of our city who animate possible critical, diverse, breaking and building forms from which power is brokered. Each intervention is an invitation to collective, stammering tongues, to healing, justice, poetry.
Windybrow Arts Centre@windybrowartscentre
The Windybrow Arts Centre is the fourth division of the Market Theatre Foundation, framing itself as a space for thought leadership, literacy and Pan African expression. The Windybrow Arts Centre, as a Pan African centre of the arts, occupies a Heritage house in Hillbrow built by a mining engineer, Theodore Reneurt, during the height of the Johannesburg gold rush over a century ago. The house has recently been refurbished, with funding from the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, to reflect its original architectural splendour and lustre. Today the WAC has opened its doors to the community of Hillbrow as a Pan African centre of the arts in the hope of igniting a vibrant love for Pan African theatre and the arts within the community of Hillbrow. One of the essential elements of Pan Africanism is the celebration of Africa and the celebration of the diverse cultural identities of the continent and the diaspora. The Windybrow Arts Centre is well placed to embrace this opportunity. Embedded in the heart of Pan Africanism in Johannesburg, Hillbrow is an internal port for numerous migrators from the continent, creating an opportunity to tap into the cultural wealth contained in the avenues of the inner city. Together with the community of HiIlbrow the WAC intends to create lasting programmes that reflect the heritage of the area and, through art, encourage opportunities that empower the youth with knowledge systems that will expand their horizons and expand their vision.
NGO – Nothing Gets Organised
Operating in downtown Johannesburg for the past six years, Nothing Gets Organised (NGO) has attempted to administer an alternative to the current structures, practitioners work within in the context of Johannesburg. Noting the contingent nature of our present, our programming attempts to be a dialogical encounter between now and another time. Understanding the future as plural and disparate encounters with both a past not yet passed, and the present as it reveals itself and/or remains hidden, NGO embraces the future unknown as a premise that might yield another possibility. The platform was founded in 2016 by Dineo Seshee Bopape, Gabi Ngcobo and Sinethemba Twalo. NGO is interested in un/conventional processes of self-organising – those that do not imply structure, tangibility, context or form. It is a space for (NON)SENSE where (NON)SENSE can profoundly gesticulate towards, dislodge, embrace, disavow, or exist as nothing! Research is ongoing, malleable and open ended. NGO pursues that which becomes publicly visible, as always already processes in motion – to which we confer context, name and identity.
Housed in the Breezeblock Building in the suburb of Brixton, Johannesburg, LAPA is a place to gather, for collaboration, experimentation and developing new trajectories in artistic practice. LAPA makes its connection with community, and asks what kind of potential could we encourage when we are housed together. Enacting the term LAPA, the residency becomes a space of communing, gathering in a ‘home’ which encourages restorative sensibilities for community. LAPA residency hosts Goethe Institut and VANSA’s team, and the Pan-African artist residency as parallel and connected programmes for the intersections of artists, communities and cultural organisations, to develop sustainable exchange.
The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember
The Library of Things We Forgot To Remember is an interactive sound and visual archive of black resistance. It was founded in 2017 by Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai. The archive includes an extensive vinyl record collection of music associated with the liberation movements in southern Africa from the 1970s-80s, rare recordings of political speeches and a collection of artworks, posters and pamphlets acquired by Chiurai. The Library exists in two forms: as a travelling exhibition which has been hosted by institutions including Palais de Tokyo in Paris and as a physical space at 44 Stanley in Joburg is where the public can interact with our archive, for free. We also host events and talks that further help our audiences - young and old - interact with the archive.
The Forge is a multi-use cultural space, in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, at the corner of De Korte and Reserve Streets in the heart of the largest student district on the African continent, and close to both of Johannesburg’s universities. Our space is designed to facilitate the genesis, presentation and analysis of radical ideas from Pan-African, socialist, feminist and other progressive perspectives. The Forge is a space for the expression and discussion of ideas, for new encounters, and for the development of solidarities that embrace not only socially authorised intellectuals but also intellectuals in progressive popular organisations. These organisations include – as both protagonists and audiences – trade unions, social movements, community organisations, women’s organisations, student organisations, artistic and cultural workers, migrant groups, LGBTQI groups, the media and the historically censored, erased and maligned in general.
Little Addis is a restaurant specialising in authentic Ethiopian cuisine by Kassahun Gabrehana. Little Addis has been operating for over 10 years across multiple locations across Johannesburg, and is currently settled at 41 Stanley Road, Milpark.