Do you remember? We are celebrating our 15th anniversary at QKunst this year and our treat is art. In March we announced to give away three concept sketches for a location of your choice. The coming months, we would like to tell you more about the three winning locations: the ‘Spoorzone’ in Helmond (Southern Netherlands); Long Street in Soweto, Johannesburg; and the Ritakerk in Amsterdam-Noord. Today we would like to tell you more about Long Street in south Soweto, Johannesburg.
This location actually consists of two places and the social connection between them: on one side of the street, a primary school is located, on the other side of the street a church. For the past years, a lot of work has been done in and around the school to renovate the buildings and to provide a daily working method for the pupils, with order and regularity. In the church a lot of work has been done as well, to provide a safe place where gogo’s find support and shelter during weekdays. The gogo’s are grandmothers that often provide daily care for the children that go to the school on the other side of the road. Both places are secured with a fence, providing safety in and directly around the buildings.
A strong group of people has made a lot of effort for both places. In the Dhlamini Methodist Church, director and manager of the Isizinda Sempilo Organization Bongani Makhaya, pastor Mr. Sibongakonke Jshabalala, gogo leader Edith Gcilitshana and Nuska Zwane, director of the Rivers Foundation, are driving forces, that have created a daily routine for the gogo’s, which includes knitting. For the Emadlelweni Primary School the principal, Mr. Khubeka, together with the teachers has supported programmes from organisations like the Smile foundation.
QKunst 15 years: location Johannesburg
In the past year the Africlowns, a Dutch organisation that aims to create fun and diversion for children, to ‘let children be children’, paid a visit to the school. The Dutch Christi Sa, living in Johannesburg, was involved in these visits as a photographer, and she is also the one that submitted Long Street as art location. She was brought here first by Nuska Zwane, director of the Rivers Foundation, when she was looking for new locations for the Africlowns to perform.
Christi: ‘Places like Soweto and Thembisa have often warmed my heart because of the atmosphere of closeness and togetherness. Also each township always brings me joy with murals that light up the streets. The love for art feels shared here. But most of all, the reason I submitted this location is the closeness and togetherness I saw and felt, the church being a place of support for gogo’s and Umkhulu’s. I am aware of the important role of gogo’s all over South Africa and I believe we cannot honour them enough. Then there is the close location, on the other side of the street of a school for young learners. A school that as Ma Nuska told me has been rebuild with lots of energy and care in the last few years. I guess what I mostly felt when I walked up into Longstreet with Ma Nuska was Care and that is why I submitted this location.’
The people involved were enthusiastic about winning the QKunst Award for a sketch design. In two meetings, with Christi Sa as a mediator, ideas on the role of art for both school and church were exchanged. For all involved, exchange, connection and social cohesion were mentioned as important values in the foreseen art. For the church particularly, the wish was formulated to honour the wisdom of the gogo’s. The best way to work in line with the important values and to honour the gogo’s, is to facilitate direct exchanges between the artist and the community. Therefore, instead of a sketch design based on written information/documentation, the proposal changed from a sketch design to a residency.