RAW VISION – ActionKommandant

088

Bluegum Street in Bonteheuwel

Up until this year there are many in South Africa who do not know the face of Ashley Kriel. Many will not recognize his image if shown a photo of the freedom fighter, let alone associate struggle with the poster of a face forever frozen in time. Upon viewing the first full featured documentary film on this fallen hero, that face may very much remain entrenched in mind. For the Cape Flats community it is uncertain how much is known about the Umkhonto WeSizwe  member and leader, or how much it even matters. The elder generations of the Cape Flats still reminisce on the social order that  Apartheid brought regardless of the hardships of the time. The youth ever drifting deeper into the darkness of gangsterizm and drugs if not slipping into premature teen pregnancies. The face of the Cape Flats image alone has always been associated with criminality, Afrikaans (the oppressors language) and laziness. Yet, we see a revolution of artists, poets, filmmakers, musicians and activists  emerging from the flats, from the city with possibly the longest history in the country. It’s nothing new – it’s just that active members of the community of the Cape Flats remind us of the brave men and women of our past echoed in the work of those still struggling today. Those especially “born free”. The post Apartheid generation. How can a generation who have no experience of Apartheid or vaguely remember the Apartheid era relevantly relate to the struggle that was supposed to end officially in 1994? We would possibly have been explained at some point why warm, happy childhood weekends were spent on certain beaches and not others. Maybe we would have  been told stories of our mothers carrying us in their wombs while travelling in the “coloured” section of the train. Journeys and travels we sense but somehow fully relate to because we were born into it. The struggle to live. To be what we are. Where we come from. To validate even how and why we a part of that struggle and even deserved of the fruits of that struggle.

Certainly, Nadine Cloete has struggled to achieve the feat of her documentary, “Action Kommandant”, the film on one of the youngest activists from the Cape Flats to die in his struggle for freedom. When asked about the long tricky process of assembling enough interviews, film footage and accuracy into depicting the most honest portrayal of Ashley  Kriel, Cloete said “there were many issues”. The director started on the film in 2011 and says that she struggled to meet the budget and it was not that easy initially when approaching Ashley Kriel’s family. There has been a lot of pain surrounding not only his death but also sensitivity around how honestly he has been portrayed. The family has been interviewed many times only to be disappointed by misquotes and mistakes.

” I had to spend a lot of time with the family in order to gain their trust that I would portray Ashley’s story honestly and accurately”, Cloete says, “first meeting with his sisters was in their kitchen, where we just talked and got to know each other”. The process was daunting financially but worthwhile striking a relationship with the family for the director which also made the project a lot more emotional on a personal basis. Cloete feels that the more popular image of the “gangster from the Cape Flats” is easier to sell in film. Most recent films depicting the darker “coloured” side of the Mother City seems to always be about gangsterism meaning that obtaining funding would be an even more difficult task. The director went on to say that “there are many lost voices within the Cape Flats, because “coloured” activists are often overlooked and how many know about the MK heroes of the ANC”. Many of those heroes fought alongside Ashley Kriel and still reside in Bonteheuwel a place now known for its violence and problems with drugs. However, there is a rich history in activism during Apartheid and many activists still live in the community aligned with support from community members along with various religious leaders. The attendance at the screening of the film proved the pride and support of the community in the legacy of Ashley Kriel on Youth Day, June 16 as the Civic Centre in Bluegum Street in Bonteheuwel was packed out the door forcing organizers to install an outside screen as well for those who couldn’t make it in.

 There was a tangible excitement and wavering emotion as the audience waited for the film to start. The event was hosted and opened by speeches of family members, comrades, poets,students and principle of Bonteheuwel High School, music by the Jazz Yard Academy and Emile YX(activist, hip hop artist, member of Afrikaaps and former member of Black Noise) as Master Of Ceremonies. Emotions ran high long before the film even started with heartfelt nostalgia from friends who fought alongside Ashley Kriel and still carry the torch the stigma of Apartheid is hard to shake in present time when segregation is still very real in Cape Town. The area is one of many that has been the dumping grounds of  forcibly removed residents from locations strung along the Southern Suburbs of the city since the Group Areas Act. Yet, many members from the community, among them artists and activists spoke fondly of the suburb as a hub of activism, consciousness and a close knit community defined by those who fought and still strive for freedom. The speeches was followed by a moment of silence to reflect on the spirit of Ashley Kriel and others lost in the fight against oppression. Candles were lit and raised in the air and that spirit became more apparent as complete silence filled the room.

The film is haunting and dark and the light at the end of the tunnel is the poster image of the face that becomes ever more important after viewing, his family, friends and comrades who carry the torch and the community of Bonteheuwel from where he launched into action. Especially if little is known about Ashley Kriel, his short but effective life, his consciousness and how he died will be forever be remembered. The film has been hugely successful and acclaimed, Cloete travelled to the Cannes to promote the film, screened in Seattle and selling out every one of the seven screenings at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in Cape Town. Currently, Nadine is hosting her film at the Durban International Film Festival. After attending the Bonteheuwel screening on Youth Day  last week though, it’s hard to imagine a more electrifying atmosphere at any of the viewings of this film. For those unfamiliar to the work and life of Ashley Kriel, like ourselves there was shocking moments of discovering some of the extent to which the “Che Guevara of Bonteheuwel” dedicated his life.

13432236_10153841571193650_1929570575296418978_n

A moment of silence at the screening at Bonteheuwel  Civic Centre. Photo by Judith Kennedy

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Photo by Judith Kennedy

We were astonished that this hero was never part of our public school curriculum as a historical subject. Why have our parents not told about this man and what he represented to the Cape Flats and humanity? Could it be that he went completely under the radar during the 80’s, the era within which Kriel was in his prime? Most of us at The Street Is The Gallery were born in the 80’s which may explain how we missed the news of the conscious movements happening within Bonteheuwel an area neighbouring our own hometown, Elsies River. We were born into a time when Apartheid may be ending but trouble within the Cape Flats was rising within gang wars elevating to its peak in the 90’s. It would seem that the “Coloured” culture sold to this generation of youth would be steeped in violence and power rather than the incredible legacies of such examples as those who actually fought for the people as opposed to killing them. Our heroes, as far as we were concerned were always graffiti artists and hip hop activists in the 90’s or gangsters. So the lie was sold the people in the communities which explains the lack of exoneration of positive images within which we, “The Khoisan” could reflect. In Action Kommandant we see the face of the man which seems now fresh to us, ironically a young image of a man in his youth forever fresh. A man before his time, who had to fill the gap of his father who was killed when he was young. A man who had to grow up quickly and become smart and conscious and rise above the mental state of a people oppressed not only physically but in spirit and mind. A man who had to go into exile because of his fight against the Apartheid police which he took directly to the source, their homes and disrupt the supremacist order. Most amazingly, a man who went into training in the MK camps to become even stronger before he even reached 20 years old, the age he was also killed by the police not long after returning to Cape Town from the camps. Since Ashley Kriel’s era, so many “coloured” youth strive are in prison by 20. This is clearly not our only story and existence.

Cloete further explains that complications continues, “there were some more issues with the filming and screening of the funeral, due to copywrite issues we were unable to broadcast the funeral at other than festival screenings”. When asked the importance of the footage of the funeral, Cloete says, “the funeral scene makes the depiction more real, the emotional power of the loss of this leader to the community of Bonteheuwel”. Indeed, the scene is powerful. Something that should be seen more than talked about. The face again, strong, frozen but not defeated. “For the first time, the face of Ashley in his coffin is shown in film”, says Cloete, “this adds to the emotional power”.

Nadine Cloete initiated the making of the film completely on her own budget. The director funded the project using money from work she did at Rainbow Circle Films where she cut her teeth working as an intern from 2005. RCF was based in Elsies River an area not far from Bonteheuwel. There she met colleagues from the Cape Flats who wanted to make a difference through film including Kurt Orderson, previously featured in RAW VISION. She also met other filmmakers like John Fredericks also known as Mr. Devious a former gangster from the area. Cloete did her honours at University of Cape Town working on the music documentary “Maak It An” for local rapper and activist, Jitsvinger. Her interest in making a film on Ashley Kriel sparked when she saw footage of the activist address a crowd in one of his public speeches. It inspired her to discover how young he was when did his first speech at the age of thirteen at his school. “He had the courage to express the right for the oppressed to say how they wanted to live” muses Cloete, “he initiated his first march at that young age from his school around the text book issue, targeting inequalities in education”. ” I was also intrigued by the advent of photos of Ashley that went missing causing he’s face to become obscured in the history of our own integral activists within the Cape Flats. Certain narratives become more dominant in the media while the heroes like many Bonteheuwel members of the MK have gone largely unknown or forgotten for too long.” When asked about the perseverance to see the film completed against many obstacles that even put the filming on hold for a while before finally being completed this year due to lack of funding Cloete remarks, “It is important to have  voices from within the communities of the Flats telling our own stories and showing that other side our culture, how we contribute positively to society”

The film was edited by Khalid Shamis, the editor of Afrikaaps, another pioneering documentary directed by Dylan Valley who helped create awareness around the heritage and history around Afrikaans culture in Cape Town, specifically in the Cape flats.

We have only seen one of many of the screenings of this powerful film in Cape Town. It is hard to imagine a better environment or reception than the one experienced in Bonteheuwel. We are certain though that as this film travels the country as well as globally that many will be touched. If we haven’t acknowledged the face of Ashley Kriel before, then we definitely won’t be able to shake the image now.

13434909_10154167845552177_2161197899026919202_n

Photo by Judith Kennedy

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Wheatpaste in Bonteheuwel by Cape Town collective, Burning Museum of Ashley Kriel. Photo by Nadine Cloete

See trailer below

Screenings currently continue to premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.

Nadine Cloete on Facebook

Action Kommandant Blog

Khalid Shamis

RAW VISION – ActionKommandant

088

Bluegum Street in Bonteheuwel

Up until this year there are many in South Africa who do not know the face of Ashley Kriel. Many will not recognize his image if shown a photo of the freedom fighter, let alone associate struggle with the poster of a face forever frozen in time. Upon viewing the first full featured documentary film on this fallen hero, that face may very much remain entrenched in mind. For the Cape Flats community it is uncertain how much is known about the Umkhonto WeSizwe  member and leader, or how much it even matters. The elder generations of the Cape Flats still reminisce on the social order that  Apartheid brought regardless of the hardships of the time. The youth ever drifting deeper into the darkness of gangsterizm and drugs if not slipping into premature teen pregnancies. The face of the Cape Flats image alone has always been associated with criminality, Afrikaans (the oppressors language) and laziness. Yet, we see a revolution of artists, poets, filmmakers, musicians and activists  emerging from the flats, from the city with possibly the longest history in the country. It’s nothing new – it’s just that active members of the community of the Cape Flats remind us of the brave men and women of our past echoed in the work of those still struggling today. Those especially “born free”. The post Apartheid generation. How can a generation who have no experience of Apartheid or vaguely remember the Apartheid era relevantly relate to the struggle that was supposed to end officially in 1994? We would possibly have been explained at some point why warm, happy childhood weekends were spent on certain beaches and not others. Maybe we would have  been told stories of our mothers carrying us in their wombs while travelling in the “coloured” section of the train. Journeys and travels we sense but somehow fully relate to because we were born into it. The struggle to live. To be what we are. Where we come from. To validate even how and why we a part of that struggle and even deserved of the fruits of that struggle.

Certainly, Nadine Cloete has struggled to achieve the feat of her documentary, “Action Kommandant”, the film on one of the youngest activists from the Cape Flats to die in his struggle for freedom. When asked about the long tricky process of assembling enough interviews, film footage and accuracy into depicting the most honest portrayal of Ashley  Kriel, Cloete said “there were many issues”. The director started on the film in 2011 and says that she struggled to meet the budget and it was not that easy initially when approaching Ashley Kriel’s family. There has been a lot of pain surrounding not only his death but also sensitivity around how honestly he has been portrayed. The family has been interviewed many times only to be disappointed by misquotes and mistakes.

” I had to spend a lot of time with the family in order to gain their trust that I would portray Ashley’s story honestly and accurately”, Cloete says, “first meeting with his sisters was in their kitchen, where we just talked and got to know each other”. The process was daunting financially but worthwhile striking a relationship with the family for the director which also made the project a lot more emotional on a personal basis. Cloete feels that the more popular image of the “gangster from the Cape Flats” is easier to sell in film. Most recent films depicting the darker “coloured” side of the Mother City seems to always be about gangsterism meaning that obtaining funding would be an even more difficult task. The director went on to say that “there are many lost voices within the Cape Flats, because “coloured” activists are often overlooked and how many know about the MK heroes of the ANC”. Many of those heroes fought alongside Ashley Kriel and still reside in Bonteheuwel a place now known for its violence and problems with drugs. However, there is a rich history in activism during Apartheid and many activists still live in the community aligned with support from community members along with various religious leaders. The attendance at the screening of the film proved the pride and support of the community in the legacy of Ashley Kriel on Youth Day, June 16 as the Civic Centre in Bluegum Street in Bonteheuwel was packed out the door forcing organizers to install an outside screen as well for those who couldn’t make it in.

 There was a tangible excitement and wavering emotion as the audience waited for the film to start. The event was hosted and opened by speeches of family members, comrades, poets,students and principle of Bonteheuwel High School, music by the Jazz Yard Academy and Emile YX(activist, hip hop artist, member of Afrikaaps and former member of Black Noise) as Master Of Ceremonies. Emotions ran high long before the film even started with heartfelt nostalgia from friends who fought alongside Ashley Kriel and still carry the torch the stigma of Apartheid is hard to shake in present time when segregation is still very real in Cape Town. The area is one of many that has been the dumping grounds of  forcibly removed residents from locations strung along the Southern Suburbs of the city since the Group Areas Act. Yet, many members from the community, among them artists and activists spoke fondly of the suburb as a hub of activism, consciousness and a close knit community defined by those who fought and still strive for freedom. The speeches was followed by a moment of silence to reflect on the spirit of Ashley Kriel and others lost in the fight against oppression. Candles were lit and raised in the air and that spirit became more apparent as complete silence filled the room.

The film is haunting and dark and the light at the end of the tunnel is the poster image of the face that becomes ever more important after viewing, his family, friends and comrades who carry the torch and the community of Bonteheuwel from where he launched into action. Especially if little is known about Ashley Kriel, his short but effective life, his consciousness and how he died will be forever be remembered. The film has been hugely successful and acclaimed, Cloete travelled to the Cannes to promote the film, screened in Seattle and selling out every one of the seven screenings at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in Cape Town. Currently, Nadine is hosting her film at the Durban International Film Festival. After attending the Bonteheuwel screening on Youth Day  last week though, it’s hard to imagine a more electrifying atmosphere at any of the viewings of this film. For those unfamiliar to the work and life of Ashley Kriel, like ourselves there was shocking moments of discovering some of the extent to which the “Che Guevara of Bonteheuwel” dedicated his life.

13432236_10153841571193650_1929570575296418978_n

A moment of silence at the screening at Bonteheuwel  Civic Centre. Photo by Judith Kennedy

13465956_10153841592763650_3727798594194196169_n

Photo by Judith Kennedy

We were astonished that this hero was never part of our public school curriculum as a historical subject. Why have our parents not told about this man and what he represented to the Cape Flats and humanity? Could it be that he went completely under the radar during the 80’s, the era within which Kriel was in his prime? Most of us at The Street Is The Gallery were born in the 80’s which may explain how we missed the news of the conscious movements happening within Bonteheuwel an area neighbouring our own hometown, Elsies River. We were born into a time when Apartheid may be ending but trouble within the Cape Flats was rising within gang wars elevating to its peak in the 90’s. It would seem that the “Coloured” culture sold to this generation of youth would be steeped in violence and power rather than the incredible legacies of such examples as those who actually fought for the people as opposed to killing them. Our heroes, as far as we were concerned were always graffiti artists and hip hop activists in the 90’s or gangsters. So the lie was sold the people in the communities which explains the lack of exoneration of positive images within which we, “The Khoisan” could reflect. In Action Kommandant we see the face of the man which seems now fresh to us, ironically a young image of a man in his youth forever fresh. A man before his time, who had to fill the gap of his father who was killed when he was young. A man who had to grow up quickly and become smart and conscious and rise above the mental state of a people oppressed not only physically but in spirit and mind. A man who had to go into exile because of his fight against the Apartheid police which he took directly to the source, their homes and disrupt the supremacist order. Most amazingly, a man who went into training in the MK camps to become even stronger before he even reached 20 years old, the age he was also killed by the police not long after returning to Cape Town from the camps. Since Ashley Kriel’s era, so many “coloured” youth strive are in prison by 20. This is clearly not our only story and existence.

Cloete further explains that complications continues, “there were some more issues with the filming and screening of the funeral, due to copywrite issues we were unable to broadcast the funeral at other than festival screenings”. When asked the importance of the footage of the funeral, Cloete says, “the funeral scene makes the depiction more real, the emotional power of the loss of this leader to the community of Bonteheuwel”. Indeed, the scene is powerful. Something that should be seen more than talked about. The face again, strong, frozen but not defeated. “For the first time, the face of Ashley in his coffin is shown in film”, says Cloete, “this adds to the emotional power”.

Nadine Cloete initiated the making of the film completely on her own budget. The director funded the project using money from work she did at Rainbow Circle Films where she cut her teeth working as an intern from 2005. RCF was based in Elsies River an area not far from Bonteheuwel. There she met colleagues from the Cape Flats who wanted to make a difference through film including Kurt Orderson, previously featured in RAW VISION. She also met other filmmakers like John Fredericks also known as Mr. Devious a former gangster from the area. Cloete did her honours at University of Cape Town working on the music documentary “Maak It An” for local rapper and activist, Jitsvinger. Her interest in making a film on Ashley Kriel sparked when she saw footage of the activist address a crowd in one of his public speeches. It inspired her to discover how young he was when did his first speech at the age of thirteen at his school. “He had the courage to express the right for the oppressed to say how they wanted to live” muses Cloete, “he initiated his first march at that young age from his school around the text book issue, targeting inequalities in education”. ” I was also intrigued by the advent of photos of Ashley that went missing causing he’s face to become obscured in the history of our own integral activists within the Cape Flats. Certain narratives become more dominant in the media while the heroes like many Bonteheuwel members of the MK have gone largely unknown or forgotten for too long.” When asked about the perseverance to see the film completed against many obstacles that even put the filming on hold for a while before finally being completed this year due to lack of funding Cloete remarks, “It is important to have  voices from within the communities of the Flats telling our own stories and showing that other side our culture, how we contribute positively to society”

The film was edited by Khalid Shamis, the editor of Afrikaaps, another pioneering documentary directed by Dylan Valley who helped create awareness around the heritage and history around Afrikaans culture in Cape Town, specifically in the Cape flats.

We have only seen one of many of the screenings of this powerful film in Cape Town. It is hard to imagine a better environment or reception than the one experienced in Bonteheuwel. We are certain though that as this film travels the country as well as globally that many will be touched. If we haven’t acknowledged the face of Ashley Kriel before, then we definitely won’t be able to shake the image now.

13434909_10154167845552177_2161197899026919202_n

Photo by Judith Kennedy

13495023_10154171868982177_1419511397368761133_n

 

10489622_10152559936407177_8338613373203573030_n

Wheatpaste in Bonteheuwel by Cape Town collective, Burning Museum of Ashley Kriel. Photo by Nadine Cloete

See trailer below

Screenings currently continue to premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.

Nadine Cloete on Facebook

Action Kommandant Blog

Khalid Shamis

 

RAW VISION – DonVino Prins


Video featuring Don Vino performing with fellow Northern Suburbs jazz cat, Jonathan Rubain

Cape Town saxophonist Don Vino Prins presents his latest production celebrating saxophones called Cape Horns which premiers at the Baxter Concert Hall on the 6th and 7th of May.

by Atiyyah Khan

There have been a few artists recently that are putting Elsies River, the small northern suburbs area on the Cape Flats, on the map. Earlier this month, the Elsies River High School band performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. There is also the rapper Dope Saint Jude making waves locally and internationally. And then, there are those like saxophonist Don Vino Prins, continuing the legacy of other Elsies-natives such as the late Cape Jazz legend Robbie Jansen.

Prins presents his latest production celebrating saxophones called Cape Horns which premiers at the Baxter Concert Hall on the 6th and 7th of May. The production is directed by Alistair Izobell and celebrates the various forms of music that can be played on the saxophone ranging from gospel to jazz and big band to pop. There will also be traditional Cape sounds like ghoema and the historic traditional music of lang-arm. Trumpeter Ian Smith of Virtual Jazz Reality fame and director of the acclaimed Delft Big Band joins the line up with saxophonist Heinrich Isaacs, who is known for his Gospel sound. Fellow saxophonist Didier Richards, who regularly performs with the South African Navy Band also joins the line-up. Rising stars, the Elsies River High School band completes the line-up.

Prins grew up in an area called Epping Forest, a part of Elsies River he says that has become more dangerous over the years. He started playing music in Christmas choirs while he was at school around the age of fifteen, picking up the banjo, then the trumpet, before eventually moving onto saxophone. The church he played at bought him his first saxophone.

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Photo by The Weekend Argus

After completing school in 1999, like many youths in the area, he sought out work at the local Shoprite centre working there for two years. There came a point, where he decided he had had enough and decided to pursue music completely, despite not being fully equipped for it. “I didnt want to work there anymore. I just decided to go. Clocked out and never looked back,” he says. “I had no gigs at the time. I would just step out with my saxophone in good faith” he continues.

Prins played in a few bands in the area gaining experience as a saxophonist. He found himself performing at jam sessions at a music club called the G-Spot in Goodwood. At some point he was asked to teach at Abdullah Ibrahim’s M7 academy for music. He spent time there teaching saxophone, but also used his time learning how to read music. He later toured with the school’s band The Jazz Ambassadors.

Prins draws great inspiration from Jansen’s playing. “I heard Robbie Jansen while I was in high school and was inspired. I visited him at his house and tried asking him for lessons. But I managed to play with him a few times,” he says.

The majority of Prins’ career has been in teaching music. Six years ago he created a community music school in Delft, training youth in the area to read and perform music. The school is free to attend and teaches music of all instruments across the spectrum. His work in teaching has been prolific in the sense that students from the age of six and up attend with most not having access to music as a subject in their schools. “We got to a point where students at the school became teachers, which was great.” he says.

Prins is currently involved in many projects at once. Together with Camillo Lombard, he heads up the Training and Development element of ESP Afrika that forms part of the jazz festival. He also performs in the band Top Dog SA, which has just launched their album Griqua DNA, with sounds they describe as Khoisan jazz.

Previously Prins has performed in productions such as David Kramer’s Three Wise Men, Kat and The Kings and Blood Brothers. Most recently he performed in Kramer’s new show, Kanala. As a musician, he has toured Europe, Dubai, Australia and the United States playing with the likes of Grammy Award winners, Kirk Whalum and Lady Smith Black Mambazo. Last year, he debuted his first solo show titled From Elsies to the World.

*Cape Horns runs on May 6 and 7 at the Baxter Concert Hall. 8pm. Tickets cost R130. Info via Computicket or call 0861 915 8000.

Article appeared in The Weekend Argus on April 24,2016

Follow Atiyyah Khan on TwitterInstagram & also as founding member of vinyl collective Future Nostalgia

RAW VISION – Jarrett Erasmus

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Wheatpaste by Jarrett James Erasmus in Maitland, Cape Town

In 1994, the youth of South Africa has had a bright free future to look forward to. 22 Years later it seems more and more that what was left behind is the ruins of architecture and spaces filled with anger and echoed from the past. Buildings left standing waiting for some new kind of terror. Gentrification. But not very new in South Africa just a different weapon to deliver yet another low blow to dislocate foundations of shaky old structures. Old houses of hope dismantled and decontstructed and those left in the middle or far behind continue to fade into the walls.

Cape Town collective Burning Museum have explored these metaphors through site specific artworks set up in abandoned and inhibited spaces in and around the city centre of Cape Town and became one of the few voices on the street for those who are stuck or shoved in the middle of conflict. The inbetweeners, them peoples without culture. Jarrett James Erasmus, one of the members of this collective has been exploring various spaces within the country getting a broad perspective of the politics of place. Currently based in Johannesburg, the artist is completing his masters in fine art at WITS University which has also forced him to be immersed in the outrage of student protests that was at climax last year. Hoards of students took to the streets and faced off with parliament in demand that elitism and exclusivity caused by insanely expensive University fees be decreased.

The artist himself was born in Cape Town in the Northern Suburbs a section of the city almost undefinable as being a part of the metropolis as anywhere from Voortrekker Road onward seems almost separate from the elitist interest of the City Bowl. And so it has been since forced removals from the Southern Suburbs during Apartheid. More than a metaphor the metaphysics of hate floats in the mind and sticks like a fly on the wall. Jarrett has been rendering surfaces and walls in his work for a while and gained his first show in 2012 at a group exhibition at Art B. gallery in Bellville. His work there featured artworks of suspended structures of township shacks and homes. His ideas expanded and developed further after working in a collective of artists in Burning Museum with similar questions, like “what defines space?” and “what defines the people moved to and fro between those spaces?”.

Last year Erasmus juxtaposed the image of the okapi an extinct animal indigenous to the Cape that questions the identity of the people of origin within the landscape. This lead to further exploration of wheatpasting, a medium he picked through working with Burning Museum and started extending his own ideas and imagery. Specifically in Troyville, the area he is currently based in Johannesburg. There he stumbled on an abandoned building and found interest in installing a conceptual body of work there called “Empty Ghosts”. We spoke to the artist about the project and what lead him to implement the work.

The Street Is The Gallery: Where were u born?
Jarrett Erasmus: I was born in Karl Bremer hospital in Belville but grew up in Northpine, small neighborhood in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town 
TSITG: How did u get into art?
Basquiat, Bouys and Batman were major influences. Growing up I’ve always been interested in alternative cultures too, which kind of separated me from many of the guys around, so I was a bit of a loner sometimes too, engaging in my own little universe. 
You moved to Johannesburg to study at Wits how do you find the Jozi art environment or the city as a whole compared to your art career in Cape Town
Socially Jozi is not as cliquey as CPT, but the art world always is, regardless of the city you’re in. And I’m not much of an art world person. 
What inspired the “empty ghosts” project?
The relationship with my grandmother who was losing her memory because of Alzheimer’s disease and the amnesia of the atrocities suffered by South Africans both during apartheid and in the new “democracy”. Working within the Burning Museum allowed me to unearth quite a bit of material and information from my own personal archives and ask questions of my own position, both historically and in the present, within this new South Africa. 
 
The work was documented by Sebastien Capouet. 
There is a fascination with empty architecture not only as canvases for graffiti artists but also as conceptual platforms for street and fine artists. how important is that interplay between art and urban architecture
Ja well I chose that environment because it alludes to displacement and abandonment which to me echoed the ongoing struggle that many Africans are still grappling with today, the battle for a place to call home. And now with spaces being gentrified and prices for rent skyrocketing it seems like finding a place to call your own can only be maintained by the privileged. 
 
Also the owner of that property is a mystery since no one knows who or where that person is, so it literally is a “no mans land” in a sense. This lack of ownership of the house creates an interesting dimension in this current world run by capital where everything and (almost)everyone is owned. It becomes a kind of lost place that doesn’t exist in this reality. 
 
 In Johannesburg very few people engage with the city who live outside it unless they’re coming to the night market in either Maboneng or Braamfontein, so another reason for activating the space in this way was to get people to engage with something outside of their comfort zones and realize that there is more here than their immediate surroundings. 
 
And as far as access goes, making work in spaces like this removes the limitations of who can view the work and who cannot, unlike in a gallery space. 
All photos by Sebastien Capouet

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Space Is The Place – by Future Nostalgia

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One of the countless special performances at Straight No Chaser

The golden era of 2 of the most iconic venues in Cape Town, Tagore’s and Straight No Chaser (formerly known as The Mahogany Room) has closed. This fact is little known to the general public. Due to their minute sizes in comparison to most “clubs’ they made for  an intimate setting for audiences passionate about music and performances in taste of whats commonly referred to as niche. In other words close to devoid of cliche. That’s not to say the individuals fortunate enough to experience the growth of so many young jazz artists currently on the rise are more special than the rest of the population of Cape Town but rather to point out the lack of spaces like this in the city.

That lack limits an amount of information going out hence reaching a smaller audience. The information is that there is a fruitful scene of youngsters making moves in the local jazz scene. That and the fact that their music is filled with the yearning to connect with the heritage of a people long lost in the historical narrative and education thereof. Cape Town’s mixed race population termed in the Apartheid era as the ‘coloured’ race in particular are much in need of this information in order to reconnect the dots of a mixed and near missing identity.

The mixed raced community and culture has long been referred to by other cultures and races in Cape Town particularly as ‘man with no culture’ but thanks to activists through time and especially more prolifically in the present education of the heritage can be traced through the San lineage, Cape Malay ancestry and linguistic dynamics rooted within the culture. The arts are at the forefront of this movement as artists, poets, musicians and filmmakers are compelled more and more to express knowledge of this heritage through their craft and gradually eliminate stigmas and stereotypes. The mark they now make echoes the voices once forced into exile because they were not allowed to perform the messages that may evoke and provoke freedom of thought nor knowledge of heritage during the Apartheid regime.

Many of these artist activists needed spaces within Cape Town to discuss relevant or irrelevant issues related to these topics, relax and to also get loose and feel comfortable. Tagore’s in Observatory became a space where the arts community could congregate and meet music lovers from all over the world thanks to Observatory’s global backpacking community. Ntone Edjabe chief editor of independent news magazine, Chimurenga set a tone for a music listening and dancing experience on Thursday nights which affectionately became known as ‘Church’. He would rock up with 5 or 6 crates of records and spin vinyl from all over the world but most predominantly highlighting sounds and grooves from the African diaspora. His sets were well respected as locals and foreigners for its educational aspect along with the ability to make bodies move and sweat as the venue filled to its brim on his nights.

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Ntone Edjabe hosting ‘Church’

The Mahogany Room as it was known from it’s birth til the venue changed the name to Straight No Chaser was a jazz club for the purists founded by jazz artists that could sit quietly an attentively listen to live music. Since it was owned by jazz artists who shared the vision of a top quality venue drawing from inspiration of the intimate settings of New York jazz clubs. Kesivan Naaidoo and Lee Thompson not only shared these attributes as owners but also played frequently developing platforms for themselves as well as burgeoning young artists from the city and other parts of South Africa. Many of these artists also shared the love of Tagore’s as most of them used to share the stage there. As did DJ’s who specialized in vinyl. Tuesday nights were vinyl nights at Straight No Chaser where we played records as Future Nostalgia who shared the sentiments of Ntone.

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Bassist, Shane Cooper was one of many local musicians who played at both SNC & Tagores

Together these space, artists, DJ’s, poets and collectives merged as like one extended family. If there is something that we at Future Nostalgia took away from the experience is that there is power in unity when you share love and like mindedness in things that shape and grow whats important. Hopefully, in time the interest and support of the general public will grow…. if we can only stick together –  Futurist of Future Nostalgia

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Future Nostalgia and Burning Museum collaboration.

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El Corazon aka Atiyyah Khan hosting Future Nostalgia

The legacy of Tagores

By Atiyyah Khan (also known as El Corazon & founding member of Future Nostalgia)

Iconic music venue Tagores in Observatory closed its doors on Wednesday 30 March. This is a severe loss to the musical landscape of Cape Town, as another essential space dissolves under the pressures of sustainability.

For many, Tagores is more than a live music venue. It became a ‘love movement’ with distinct personality. Since it’s inception, it has been a home to musicians, djs and artists that all found themselves united under one creative space. Walking in at any odd hour of the night, one would find debates, philosophys and ideas exchanged between all kinds of writers, artists, musicians and even the odd Valkenburg outpatient.

The venue was opened by owner Kevin Nair in 2007, initially attracted to the cosy interior of the 1889 building. When Nair bought Tagores, it was a restaurant previously. He used to run a second-hand music store in Observatory and naturally wanted to open up a music venue. “I had to scuttle around to see how to round up the money to buy the spot, because I loved it as a space,” he says.

Tagores opened as a music venue and restaurant, with Hilton Schilder being one of the first musicians to play there. The following of the venue soon grew as people began to enjoy the relaxed feel and ambience of the space.

At first glance, the size of Tagores has always been shocking to many who make it inside, but Nair jokes, “the surprising thing about Tagores is that the walls expand the later it gets.” The venue at max appears small at first, but can manage about sixty people through it’s doors when full.

As a music venue, Tagores is unique in it hosts music seven nights a week including live music and poetry and there is no cover charge at the door.

Over the years, Tagores has not only hosted some of the biggest names in South African music, but more importantly been the breeding ground for many young jazz musicians who have gone onto flourish, such as pianist Kyle Shepherd, pianist Bokani Dyer, drummer Claude Cozens, vocalist Sakhile Moleshe and trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni. It has become a nurturing and free performing space for many of the younger generation, and interact with older musicians. Nair’s late wife, Wendy, is spoken about by many as a figure who helped looked after many of the musicians, from cooking to nurturing them in other ways.

Many international artists have often graced the stage over the years. Some of the last performances by music legends such as vocalist Saathima Bea Benjamin and saxophonist Zim Ngqawana were at Tagores before they passed.

Manager Leroy-Jones Hemmings is known by all who visit the space. Hemmings started working at the space in 2008 and has been an essential element in the running of the space. He says, “Tagores has been about making quality music accessible to everybody, without any kind of discrimination.”

In all the time of being open, we’ve never had any big incidents or had to call the police for any reason,” Hemmings and Nair comment, but instead laugh that without calling them, the police arrive regardless to intimidate crowds.

Hemmings shares an anecdote of trumpeter Marcus Wyatt’s first performance there, “Marcus said, ‘Now I know why all the musicians wants to play at the space. On that stage you’re confronted by the sheer nakedness of your own sound.’” The stage itself was built by both Nair and Hemmings.

With the rise of the vinyl resurgence in Cape Town, Tagores has played a pivotal role. It all started in 2009 with Thursday nights ‘Church’ run by Ntone Edjabe. These would be five-hour long sets exploring Edjabe’s extensive record collections and grew to guarantee a packed venue every Thursday night.

The venue has been running for almost ten years, but the reasons for closing are many, including financial difficulty, lack of support and constant police harassment. In previous years, public campaigns were launched to helped raise funds which were successful but it’s been difficult to continue on many levels and it is no longer viable as a space.

Guitarist Reza Khota comments on the space closing down, ““Tagores is the center of liminality in Cape Town. It’s the space of intersection. The crossroads where notions of race and class are colorfully disrupted.This naturally is fertile ground for musical and artistic imagination.” Bassist Shane Cooper adds to this,“It was one of the only venues in Cape Town that had a completely open policy towards the kinds of music artists could perform there. It is a massive loss to the creative music scene here.”

Tagores has been sold to a new owner had the last gig was performed on Wednesday 30.

All photos below by Reza Khota

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Spotlight On: Straight No Chaser jazz club

By Atiyyah Khan

One of South Africa’s best and most-loved venues for jazz, Straight No Chaser, will close its doors this weekend. This comes as sad news, as we recently reported the closing down of music venue, Tagores in Observatory at the end of March.

Straight No Chaser, situated in Buitenkant street in the CBD became the home for jazz in Cape Town, since it opened in December 2011. Originally called The Mahogany Room, the venue was modelled after clubs like the Village Vanguard in New York as a serious listening artist space. The venue became known for it’s intimate nature and the great jazz photographs captured by Rashid Lombard and George Hallett that hung on the walls. It is probably the only jazz venue in the country to have a strict policy of silence when the musicians were on stage.

In its four years, Straight No Chaser became a nurturing space essential to the jazz scene in the country. It helped create a much-needed platform for many musicians in the city and showcased an entire range of local and international artists. It also helped carve a new audience of discerning listeners. It became the home for jazz in the city for a few years. The loss of Tagores and Straight No Chaser within a space of two weeks is a severe knock to the local music scene.

The creation of the venue was the coming together of the vision of two musicians, drummer Kesivan Naidoo and trumpeter Lee Thomson, who were friends but also artists looking for a space to play. They started the venue together with the financial help of a third partner Lawson Naidoo. In 2014, the venue underwent a restructuring in ownership and the name was changed to Straight No Chaser. Recently music journalist and writer, Miles Keylock has been involved in the management and running of the venue.

However, as is often the case with many music venues, financial costs have become too heavy for the space in addition to outrageous property rentals within the CBD. This has led to the venue closing down. The management however have expressed that they would like to continue the philosophy of the space by instead moving and doing pop-up jazz concerts around the city.

Legendary drummer Louis Moholo will perform this weekend. He will be joined by special guests tonight and by pianist Kyle Shepherd and bassist Brydon Bolton on Sunday. See Straight No Chaser’s Facebook page for more information and updates.

Atiyyah Khan’s “The Legacy of Tagore’s” piece appeared in The Weekend Argus March 27, 2016 and Spotlight on Straight No Chaser April 9, 2016 in The Weekend Argus.

RAW VISION – Delon Moody RIP

When someone does the work that many are too lazy or unwilling to pick up, that person usually gets taken for granted. In some rare cases that individual is appreciated within he’s lifetime through his spirit that glowed an aura mirrored in his colourful work.

This passed week, the graffiti/art world took yet another blow as one of its sons fell from the physical only to rise in that spirit and soul that those who knew him can attest to. Delon Moody from Durban has passed away suddenly.

Yet, that aura seems to glow an extra mile as FaceBook has been flooded with dedications by those who have not even met the artist. From fellow artists familiar with only images of his work on FaceBook and other platforms to those seeing Delon’s work for the first time after his death.

We decided to dedicate this week’s RAW VISION to the spirit and vision of Delon Moody reflected by the outpour of dedications from friends, family and artists.

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Many tribute pieces hav gone up for Delon aka 4Givn

I’ve never experienced sadness to this degree for someone I’ve never met before. Delon Moody, thank you for all your time sweat and sheer determination in the South African graffiti family. My thoughts and prayers go out to Leighton Moody and the rest of your family and friends. May your soul soar. RIP. – Mr Migo (graffiti artist)

 

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Leighton & Delon. Photo provided by Leighton

I used to play music to him as kids, a bond we shared for years to come. We shared music on the daily, messaging each other at ridiculous hours bugging out on new tracks and artists we found.
As adults I would still play him music while he painted… Big Moody & Little Moody …in our happy place…He was my biggest supporter & I was his number one fanLeighton Moody (brother & DJ)

 

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Photos below by Graffiti South Africa

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I only met you at my book launch, where you made a huge impact on me with your warm and humble manner.

You weaved stories and streams of colour with your artwork throughout the streets of Durban for many years, even paying great respects to another fallen graffiti legend, Pastelheart, by painting the most tribute pieces.

R.I.P Delon Moody, aka 4givn. May your art and soul live on! – Cale Wale (artist & author of Graffiti South Africa)

 

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Illustration by Rayaan Cassiem

I never had the chance to work with you, Delon Moody. I always thought we would have more time to collaborate. Always expecting there to be a next time or a next week but nothing is guaranteed in this fleeting life. Your legacy lives on in the selfless work you did and for that I salute you. May you find God’s favour and may he shine light on your path in the hereafter. Rest in Peace.

illustration referenced from a photo by Wayne Lee Danker from Righteous Photography. – Rayaan Cassiem of Core Collective

RAW VISION – Benjamin Jephta by Atiyyah Khan

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Photo by Vicky Bergallo

Benjamin Jephta: Bassist Benjamin Jephta is one of the youngest bandleaders to perform as this years Cape Town International Jazz Festival. 

By Atiyyah Khan

Bassist and composer Benjamin Jephta will have his homecoming this weekend. The twenty-three year old is one of the youngest musicians to play at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival this year, performing with his quintet.

Jephta relocated to Joburg a few years ago and has performed previously at the festival but this will be the first time as bandleader. Last year Jephta released his debut album ‘Homecoming’ to huge acclaim. He will perform compositions from this along with some new material at the festival.

Jephta was born in Cape Town, as the son of parents who both serve in the South African Police Service. He grew up in the Cape Flats community of Mandalay, situated between Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha. “I always had a yearning to be a musician as a child and I would often mimic some of my music icons with a small wooden guitar by going on stage in church and sitting in with the band. This dream of becoming a musician, and my parent’s guidance, kept me focused and dedicated, even though I could easily have gotten caught up in a life of gangs and drugs that I was surrounded by in my community,” Jephta says.

Jephta attended primary school in Mitchells Plain for a few years before going to Muizenberg Junior School where he had the opportunity to play music and act in theatre productions. “My father used to be a singer in a top-40 cover band back in his day. He still has a great love for music, especially jazz. He has a big album collection as well as random instruments in the house. I naturally gravitated towards music because of this,” he says.

Jephta first started playing drums, then piano and guitar before eventually wanting to play the bass after seeing Sammy Webber perform. He pays huge credit to his music teacher Fred Kuit from Muizenberg High School, “He exposed me to jazz I had not heard before and also encouraged me to constantly play, transcribe and listen to music. He is probably one of the main reasons I am playing music today.” Kuit is also responsible for musicians such as Darren English and Claude Cozens.

It was during matric that Jephta realised he wanted to pursue music for the rest of his life. He attributes the Monday night jam sessions at Swingers Jazz Club in Wetton as a significant venue that helped his music education. “My dad would take me to Swingers for the jam on most Mondays. There I got to play with many musicians, learn lots of music and basically stay up late on a school night. I eventually joined the house band when I was in university.” Other Cape Town venues, such as Tagores and Straight No Chaser also became important for him as an emerging musician.

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After completing his degree at UCT in music, Jephta felt that a change of scenery needed to be made and moved to Joburg. “I thought I was capable of much more and I was not being utilized properly. There’s also the factor of regular work and being financially happy. Also, I just wanted to live on my own in a new city as I became too comfortable where I was,” he explains.

Joburg has offered a new range of possibilities from playing with orchestras to hip-hop artists, and big bands to playing for TV shows. Jephta has found major support for his music in the city and says, “I enjoy how interactive the Jozi audiences are at performances. If they dig it, you’ll know!”

For Jephta, his debut album Homecoming was mostly an introduction to who he is. “There is so much more that people will still get to know about me. It has become difficult to describe the music I write, since I draw from lots different things. I still remain a big fan of melody, although I’ve decided to take some more liberties when it comes to harmony and rhythm,” he says.

Jephta says that he is incredibly excited to be playing at the jazz festival this year and he applauds the festival for including so many young local musicians on the line-up. “When it comes to jazz, people are always excited to see international acts, even if they do not know who they are, but what they don’t realize is that we have world-class performers within our country,” he says. Pianist Thandi Ntuli is one of these performers and a long-time friend of Jephta’s. The pair met at university and have played interchangeably in each others bands. Jephta will feature in Ntuli’s band at the festival tonight too.

After the jazz festival, Jephta has a few performances in Joburg and has a big show planned at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town with his quintet in June. He will also play at the National Arts Festival in July with Siya Makuzeni, this year’s Standard Band Young Artist Award winner for jazz.

Article appeared in April 2, 2016 in The Weekend Argus

For more info visit www.benjaminjephta.com or @benjaminjephta on Twitter.

Atiyyah Khan is an arts journalist writing for The Weekend Argus and independent news publications and is also the founding member of vinyl archiving/ DJ’ing collective, Future Nostalgia based in Cape Town