I Can't, We Can Tour, Soweto, Pretoria, Johannesburg

27 February 2014, Soweto
Knitted and made yarn in the extraordinary Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, Soweto. Knitting amongst monumental statues which are simultaneously archetypal and futuristic. The village has a strong presence and is in a state of disrepair. According to our guide many of the art works are prophetic visions. The village was began in the early 70’s and its original purpose was that of a sacred healing space, the restoration is to bring it back to that original intention.

The next performance was on the street corner where Hector Pieterson was shot during the 1976 Student protests. Students were protesting against Afrikaans being instituted as the medium for education.

I was mobbed by a crowd of shiny, healthy students just out from school. They were happy to be at school and inquisitive to see what I was up to. They agreed that school is important and are eager and willing to learn. One eloquent boy said school is necessary in order to get ahead in life. A girl said she didn’t like it because of all the tests. 

Another conversation was with a musician/film maker from Soweto. He despaired at the lack of exposure to art at the Sowetan schools. He and some fellow film makers have taken it upon themselves to fill that gap. They have begun to run photographic/film-making workshop for students at schools, as an extramural option. He feels that communities need to draw on their own resources and give back, developing what is needed within the community, rather than the expectation that it come from outside.

 28 February, Pretoria

The Voortrekker monument[built in the 1930’s to commemorate the trek from the Cape Colony]. I felt a deep sadness when I was knitting inside, there were many tourists and the basement felt quite ominous. I was struck by the emphatic nature of the structure. The mother figure outside with the two children, downright scary! So very different from the Credo Mutwa pieces.
Outside the Department of education. I was not allowed to sit, but was allowed to stand and tear education documents into long lengths of yarn. I found this very satisfying.

Church square with the statue of Paul Kruger, facing the Place of Justice.

Union Buildings where I met Zelda Cloete. Zelda has been making art focusing on the ‘Basick’ State of Education. Her graduate installation piece caught my eye on the internet last year. It was great to finally meet and chat
1 March Room, Braamfontein
Renew commitment to educate, rather than a search for solutions. The purpose and function of education is to grow and develop people.
Education as a way of reciprocating, a way of giving back a way of demonstrating gratitude.
I have personally experienced this within my own learning and particularly in art practice. I have had stages where the only way I was able to move forward, growing in my practice, was by giving back through teaching and sharing my experiences.
In the future there will be very few schools. There will only be the big names lefts like Harvard etc. School will be by correspondence only. This way quality will be ensured.
Conversation with two matriculates who are attending a very prestigious private school. The school I understand delivers a high level of education [what exactly is a high level of education?]
·         Parents are including as part of the school community and educated along with the students [e.g. technology update workshops]
·         School outings take the form of: a trip to Ecuador into diminishing rainforests with an opportunity to experience 0 degree magnetism the equator!
·         The students engage directly with ‘Other’ communities.
·         Gender and sexual orientation is addressed and included
·         Lesbian students can go to matric dances with their girlfriends
·         Students receive the best possible start to life which is inclusive of otherness
·         There is an inclusion of subjects which could be embarrassing, challenging [addressing issues of economic and social imbalances, development of social awareness and conscience.
The young women I chatted which are so present and engaged I breathed deeper knowing that they will be filling the spaces of the powerful and influential. With this conversation I grew! I become aware that there are the powerful and influential…..and money gives access.
I experienced a something similar to what I did when I was in the shop window last year; a staging of the performance which sets it apart from every day-ness. This is a paradox within performance. Something I address by sitting in public spaces. It also challenges the space of the gallery, its function…and how can this be stretched. The original plan for the show was for me to sit and knit outside of the space, on the pavement, and have knitted cloth and other artefacts exhibited in the space. A tread of yarn was to entice viewers into the space. The intense rain down pour, however, took care of that!
Many friends arrived from my graduate days in Pietermaritzburg. This was a wonderful surprise and a miraculous synchronicity that we were all in the same place at the same time!
The tour was intense and fulfilling; Johannesburg warm, encouraging and embracing.


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