Building on the intersection between arts and activism I worked closely with Keleketla! to curate a series of events for International Civil Society Week (ICSW), hosted by CIVICUS, in November 2014. The event brought together more than 600 participants from nearly 100 countries around the world to tackle some of the key challenges facing humanity. We saw this as an opportunity to draw out a different engagement between the two worlds, art and activism, by demonstrating how locally based artists are in fact critically engaged actors within a place, thus challenging the notion that arts is something that only entertains.
The event took place at WITS University in Johannesburg and coincided with the celebration of 20 years of Democracy in the country. With this in mind we worked with artists who were researchers and activists working within civic space and social memory. The result was not only an enriched experience for the delegates, but also for CIVICUS and the artists; each interacted in the space of the other in informed and learned ways.
Project ELO, an African spiritual jazz band headed by drummer Tumi Mogorosi, performed a moving set at the opening ceremony, immersing the delegates into the landscape of the sounds of the hopes and struggle, past and current. Malose Malahlela from Keleketla! and myself produced an archival video that was projected onto the stage when Project ELO performed.
Mushroom Hour Half-Hour worked through a Pirate Radio Station that delicately sifted through sound archives from the apartheid era to build a soundscape of voice and song to match the theme. Live interaction in the form of on-the-fly interviews with delegates were also worked into the sessions, and everything was recorded as podcasts.
Nolan Dennis interacted with the audience to draw out key themes that in turn informed a mural that was painted during the event. The mural became a landscape of the thoughts of people at ICSW as they were invited to partake in making their mark.