August 2015

89plus Johannesburg Research Highlights


Introductions and insights from meetings with artists, institutions and legends based in the sprawling metropole of this South African city.

Our first port of call in Johannesburg, was a visit to Keleketla! Library to meet with the founders Malose ‘Kadromatt’ Malahlela and Rangoato ‘Ra’ Hlasane. They would be the hosts for the 89plus Workshop the following day.

Keleketla is an interdisciplinary, independent library and media arts project established to create access to literature and the use of arts and media strategies as alternative education models and tools. It initiates and provides platforms for collaborative, experimental & innovative projects with youth, artists, cultural practitioners and educators.

There is a palpable urgency behind Keleketla! and all of the projects that come under its umbrella. Given the nationwide institutional shortfalls across the board, much of Keleketla!’s programming deals with education and local relevancy. As such they have committed themselves to publishing with a view towards the cumulative impact.

"… when our own governments and our leaders [are] all ready to sit down and take seriously the issue of education there shouldn't be any excuse …We are bombarded, cultural imperialism is still ongoing! Very little has changed; a lot of us were raised by American TV.”

—Rangoato ‘Ra’ Hlasane, co-founder of Keleketla! Library

Rather than call themselves artists, the duo shared that they see their role as organisers. Reflecting on how Keleketla! came into existence, Malose explained:

“When you go back to how we started as innacitycommunity, every single term that I have known now just falls away. Because basically when you start, you don’t start saying I am an artist. You started something which is needed.”

—Malose Malahlea, co-founder of Keleketla! Library

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Keleketla! Library was the host for the inaugural Johannesburg 89plus Workshop, that would see fifteen creators come to present their work during the closed session.

Meeting with renowned artist, William Kentridge at his home studio in Johannesburg.

Kentridge opens up one of his notebooks.

We would later visit his main working studio, where sculptures and props for his numerous projects are developed. As Kentridge gave us a tour, he explained:

It’s a mixture of quite crude engineering … hi–tech in its insides...we take consumer found objects, but then Janus [the engineer] has to work out how to reprogram and repurpose them.”

—William Kentridge

Photographer, David Goldblatt's contribution to the Protest against the Disappearance of Handwriting project by Hans Ulrich Obrist on Instagram.

The last time Hans Ulrich Obrist and Santu Mofokeng met for an interview was back in 2002 in Paris. The research visit to Johannesburg was an opportunity for them to pick up the conversation where it left off.

A preview on Mofokeng's latest project, an ambitious eighteen-book publishing endeavour.

Photographer Santu Mofokeng's contribution to the Protest against the Disappearance of Handwriting project by Hans Ulrich Obrist on Instagram.

One morning, 89plus hosted one of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s notorious Brutally Early Club sessions. The salon—a tradition that began back in London in 2006—gathered critical contemporary thinkers for intimate, lively conversations, and opened at 6:30am with Obrist’s energetic question, “What feels urgent?”

Artist Mikhael Subotzky who joined the Brutally Early Club shared this response to Hans Ulrich's question:

“Everything is always urgent. But particularly now, I think that it is urgent to dig a little bit deeper, and be a little bit more honest in what we are doing.”

Subotzky also contributed to the Protest against the Disappearance of Handwriting project by Hans Ulrich Obrist on Instagram.

The South Africa trip would not have been complete without meeting this legend, the music pioneer, Philip Tabane .

“... He was a rebel; he just wanted to do his thing. People just had to recognise that [it was about] putting the message of Malombo out there.

—Thabang Tabane, musician and son of Philip Tabane

Malombo, A Spiritual Tradition

Despite his music often being labelled Jazz, Tabane continues to decry this, saying: “No! It's not Jazz; people did not know how to call it.”

During the meeting facilitated by music journalist Bongani Madondo, Philip went on to elaborate that his music came from traditional spirituality and family life, and in particular his mother:

"Sangoma music, it was all the music at home. They used to sing music, they used play…"

—Philip Tabane, pioneering musician

I am music, I don't create music, Philip Tabane's contribution to the Protest against the Disappearance of Handwriting project by Hans Ulrich Obrist on Instagram.

Following the research visit to Johannesburg, Houghton Kinsman interviewed Simon Castets, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Bogosi Sekhukhuni for Art Africa.

89plus, Another Africa
Credits: Story

The 89plus Johannesburg research program was initiated by 89plus co-curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets, in collaboration with publishing platform Another Africa, and its founder, Missla Libsekal. They were joined by 89plus art residency participant and South African emerging artist, Bogosi Sekhukhuni.

More info:

This project was made possible with the support of Google Cultural Institute.

With thanks to the following individuals and institutions for their support:

Art Africa, Federica Angelucci, Lunetta Bartz, endon Bell-Roberts, Lerato Bereng, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Joost Bosland, Tegan Bristow, David Brodie, Buyani Duma, Liza Esser, Lindelwa Farisani, Lwandile Fikeni, John Fleetwood, Goodman Gallery, STEVENSON Gallery, David Goldblatt, Simon Gush, Rangoato Hlasane, Nicholas Hlobo, William Kentridge, Houghton Kinsman, Lara Koseff, Keleketla! Library, Bongani Madondo, Malose Malahlela, Kabelo Malatsie, Anne McIlleron, MitchellGilbert Messina, Santu Mofokeng, Molemo Moiloa, Zanele Muholi, Gabi Ngcobo, David Krut Projects, Warren Siebreitz, Emile Stipp, William Kentridge Studio, Maker Studios, Mikhael Subotzky, Dr. Philip Nchipi Tabane, Thabang Tabane, VANSA, Mfundi Vundla, Photo Market Workshop and more...

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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