Twenty Ten Reasons To Live In A Small Town: Mighty Tiny
During the course of 2010, seventeen contemporary artists lived and worked in eleven different small towns/rural contexts across the country, involved in an extended period of research and local collaboration around interventions in public spaces and structures in these towns. These interventions served as a basis for the development of more permanent artworks and interventions, intended to draw on and interact dynamically with the historical and contemporary experience of these communities.
– Visual Arts Network of South Africa
Mighty Tiny - research into being in a small town:
By way of investigation, engagement and exploration Mighty Tiny set out to understand the use of spaces in present day South Africa within the Naledi Rural district, a geographical area in the Freestate province of South Africa. Historically, during the Apartheir era, the Freestate laws forbade people of colour to spend more than 24 hours at a time if they were passing through it's borders. Land was reserved for white farmers to produce much of the countries agriculture exports and labourers often lived on farms in small settlements for very little pay. However, Naledi Rural brushes up against the landlocked country of Lesotho where people currently spill out over the borders and integrate into small towns of the region, along with people from other African countries and Chinese traders.
The research's aim was to slowly unravel roles an artist could play after engaging with communities such as this - communities and networks that I, the artist in this case, am not from. It challenged the notion of art being able to solve issues, especially when the artists are suddenly teleported in, as if from a UFO, with funding, timelines and a desperate need for outputs.
By treating all small towns as equal and making use of complete random selection on the map of South Africa this research pushed back against the selection process that artists are often exercising when choosing to work in small towns. It called for deepening time spent engaging with a place before any creative project is formed.
As a creative mode for researching I made use of sonic art, photography, workshops and reflective writing (phenomenological/auto-ethnographical) as a way to converse with the dwellers and business owners who live in Naledi Rural today. The abandoned Town Hall in Dewetsdorp - attempts to both occupy it and keep it empty - emerged as a symbol through which I explored deeper.
Some photos from 24 hour 24 photo journey into lives of everyday people in Naledi Rural: Transport – What Moves Us.
Below are some excerpts from the daily diary / blog conducted in an auto ethnographic and phenomenological approach: