Image Credit: SAHA/Gille de Vlieg
Considering the resurgence of social engaged creative practices in the South African context, this exhibition presents work of three organisations that use creative practice as a tool to exploring and understanding the various and multiple social realities of contemporary South Africa. It features a programme of projects that have developed methodologies and approaches that reflect, interrogate and explore the social complexities brought about by specific social, economic, political and historical conditions.
The exhibition and programme explore some of the complexities of participatory practice as invited organisations often work in an interdisciplinary manner aimed at shifting more conventional understanding of participatory and community engaged practice. Through a focus on the production of knowledge each of the organisations explore, develop and reflect on methodologies and approaches that take into careful consideration the contextual constraints they are located in. By acknowledging that the outcomes of such processes need to serve multiple agendas, and benefit the multiple communities engaged in this process of producing knowledge, the notion of accountability is central to the process of ethical collaboration.
Partnering organisations are The South African History Archive (Johannesburg), SPARCK (Cape Town) and Urban Futures Network (Durban).
Curated by Vaughn Sadie
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive programme of events - see PUBLIC PROGRAMME, right
The exhibition and programme is generously funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC)
About the organisations:
The South African History Archive (SAHA) is an independent human rights archive dedicated to documenting, supporting and promoting greater awareness of past and contemporary struggles for justice and accountability in South Africa through archival practices and outreach, and the utilisation of access to information laws.
SAHA aims to:
· Recapture lost and neglected histories;
· Record aspects of South African democracy in the making;
· Bring history out of the archives and into schools, universities and communities in new and innovative ways;
· Extend the boundaries of freedom of information in South Africa;
· Raise awareness, both nationally and internationally, of the role of archives and documentation in promoting and defending human rights
SPARCK - Space for Pan-African Research, Creation and Knowledge - is a programme of experimental multi-disciplinary arts residencies, workshops, symposia, exhibitions, publications and performances centred on innovative, ethically driven approaches to urban space.
SPARCK was launched in 2008 and is run by a two-woman, activist-artist-writer-scholar team: Kadiatou Diallo and Dominique Malaquais. Together, they are experimenting with novel ways of collaborating. Hierarchies are replaced with joint decision-making and collective responsibilities, physical centres and offices with mobile and virtual workspaces. Process and results are equally important and always experimental.
SPARCK actively rejects notions of centre and periphery. With this in mind, one of its primary goals is to work with cultural practitioners by going to them rather than asking that they come to SPARCK. Residencies and related projects take place across the continent and beyond, in a radically de-centered approach to collaboration and production. Live-feed Internet connections, outdoor public film projections and social networking set-ups of various kinds (from Facebook to blogs and trans-continental artworks that travel in taxis) are intended to allow wide-ranging participation by heterogeneous and far-flung publics and to foster horizontal networks of exchange and engagement. As people, institutions and places, projects, art works, performances and texts come together over the course of the first three-year programme, novel ideas and undertakings emerge, increasing the richness and complexity of a ground breaking experiment in Pan-African exchange.
The Urban Futures Centre (UFC) does not operate as a traditional research centre but rather as a networked hub of projects and partners. Its capacity lies in bringing together a network of scholars, practitioners, civil society groupings and individuals who are interested in the future of cities. The UFC is a deliberative and practice oriented ‘space’ for collaboratively designing (in the broadest sense) cities and urban settlements that are aesthetically pleasing, equitable, socially just, humane, resilient, and fit for purpose. In order to achieve this, the UFC recognises the importance of taking stock of the needs, uncertainties and dreams of the people that occupy city spaces across the problematic binaries of formal/informal and legal/illegal. Central to the projects at the UFC is the use of an imaginative lens to think about non-traditional processes and solutions to urban challenges. Such an approach demands an inter-disciplinary networked approach. The UFC currently works on combined research and engagement projects addressing issues of social housing, homelessness, drug use, policing, racial identities, racism, urban security and methodologies for urban planning. As far as possible, city dwellers most affected by ‘urban dilemmas’ are actively involved in problem identification, problem resolution and in project planning. Underlying all the UFC’s activities is a concern with listening to, and collectively making improving in, the everyday lives of urban dwellers.