Yesterday Live Magazine with the British Council Connect ZA brought us one of the most dynamic and artistic creative hustles ever. This Creative Hustle was in partnership with the Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival presented by Constitutional Hill in association with Kalashnikov Gallery. The core focus of the Hustles was understanding the artistic process the artists goes through when creating work in their various disciplines.
The Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival kicked off with The Expressions of Freedom exhibition followed by Riot Exhibition, the Riot exhibition showcased 20 artists, who worked on original military helmets that were used in various riots and uprisings in South Africa throughout the 70s and the 80s. I must say that it was one of the most inspiring and dynamic in terms restoring our history and celebrating our 20 years of democracy.
Before Constitution Hill opened its doors in 2004 as museum, the precinct was a notorious prison complex called Old Fort. The Fort was a high security prison built in the 1890s, originally housed prisoners of war during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).With the later addition of the “native prison”, called “Number Four”, and the Women’s Jail, the complex came to be a detention centre for political dissidents, striking mineworkers, those deemed “anti-establishment” and those who simply violated the inhuman pass laws of the time.
Constitution Hill is a symbol of South Africa’s unique and triumphant democracy. Visitors to this complex, which overlooks central Johannesburg, will likely be struck by how South Africa has transformed emblems of its repressive past into present-day custodians of democracy and freedom, which I thought was a perfect place to host the exhibition. I was somewhat overwhelmed while touring the site and getting to see where people during the apartheid regime were held captive as political prisoners – how people were separated from their loved ones at the time and forced to stay in cells and be brutally abused.
The Riot exhibition was presented in a manner most young people today could resonate with and having interacted with the Hustles experts, we could clearly make out or understand the artistic process of putting the exhibition together, from the Kalashnikov Gallery we had Matthew Dean and MJ Turpin who spoke about how they work alongside various artists and how they always aim to showcasing innovative artworks.
The digital art collective called Floating Reverie shared their artistic process and how they would reimagine the Riot exhibition in the digital space. They mentioned how social media platforms such as Instagram were influential and presented a different approach to curating the exhibition.
Jamal Nxedlana who is the Creative Director for Misshape and works with The Cuss Group, spoke about their Video Party project and the process of how the idea evolved over time to a tangible product. He also went on and shared his views about working in the creative/art space. “Like most things this industry is challenging and its great to work alongside other artists and creating a new meaning of art. As a creative director of a fashion house, sometimes its not enough for designers to come out with only two ranges a year. We need to elevate to a point, where we can come out with something new every month. This keeps us moving forward and creating.”- Jamal Nxedlana
We then had to express the artists within ourselves after these experts spoke to us during the Master Classes. Which were the main event of the day- it gave us a chance to create our own interpretations on original riot helmets. It was also an opportunity for us to interact with the Master Class artist and actively demonstrate working through an artistic process. We split into groups and worked on our master pieces.
The whole event was a success and insightful. I urge all young people to unite on projects like these. Shaping lives and communities through art could be one of the things that keeps us innovative and bold.
Be sure to attend the Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival from the 12- 14 June at Constitution Hill.
For more on the festival follow @KCSeshibe, I will be shooting at tonight’s exhibition starting at 6 pm-9pm.
Photography by @Ric3hard