Showing posts with label Apartheid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apartheid. Show all posts

Friday, August 31, 2012

South Africa's Great Advertising [Creative] Divide

Over @ the Daily Maverick, Mandy de Waal has a much discussed piece about South Africa’s extremely white advertising industry, and why she thinks it continues as "a colonial enclave where racial polarisation is rife and the best profits are being creamed by a handful of foreign-owned advertising companies." But it is the quote from the Association of Black Communications Practitioners' spokesperson, Taelo Immanuel, that sets up the video clip below:
“There’s a white creative director and a black team, and when they try and talk to each other there’s that chasm because of their respective upbringing. The references are vastly different. As a result there’s a cult of viewing life in an American way through hip hop, movies and music videos,” said Immanuel, who maintained that because of this the advertising mirror that reflects black culture back to South Africans is warped. What we’re seeing isn’t a true reflection of real South African life, but a perversion of its peoples and culture. “In terms of advertising work that speaks to your everyday black South African—say, for instance, my own parents—it is very difficult to find creative work like that. You just don’t get work that has real insight into the South African condition. Instead agencies and brands go to film, and there are black people singing and dancing and they slap in whatever product they want to sell,” said Immanuel. 
One of those American references for white South Africans Immanuel was referring to above was the Cosby Show. Watch the first 3 mins of the 2009 interview with South African director Gavin Hood to get an idea of how huge, for white South Africans, the Huxtables were and the gratitude owed to Bill Cosby.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From Carte de visite to Album Covers - Photography and Liberation

The industrial revolution and the emergence of photography in the 1840s ushered in the modern age. In  Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, a PBS documentary (consider donating), you can see the new realism of photographs used in combination with older media like newspapers and postcards in administering racial terror to maintain the status quo. Photographs were also tools of liberation: Sojourner Truth fashioned herself and her photographs; at her lectures she sold visiting cards/carte de visites--a photo of her freed self--to earn part of her livelihood.


When combined with an even older medium like music, photography played a role in black liberation in South Africa explains Chimurenga publisher Ntone Edjabe:
If you look at the South African record covers of the 70s, for instance, the black consciousness jazz records, you get immediately the kind of liberatory spirit and mood that was beyond that. But you couldn't write that stuff. So you will put it all into an image kinda spiritual... of someone seeking freedom. For example, Winston Mankunku's "Yakhal Inkomo" record, he is sitting there: black man looking into the horizon... cigarette smoke and he is so strong. That kind of image of a black person? Then the record came out in 1968. You couldn't publish the image of a black person so dignified and so strong in the media - he did not look like a victim.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blacks and South African Opera

AFP's Justine Gerardy explains the emergence of so many black opera stars in South Africa:
South African black opera voices have burst onto the international stage, mirroring the country's shift to democracy, decades after white Afrikaner soprano Mimi Coertse debuted at the Vienna State Opera in 1956. Experts say their rise is no sudden outpouring of new talent but rather that all-race freedom in 1994 levelled the playing field to allow those with remarkable gifts who were stifled under apartheid to enter the game. "At the moment our best singers are black," said Virginia Davids, head of vocal studies at the South African College of Music based at the University of Cape Town. South Africans can be found from Tel Aviv to London, with soprano Pumeza Matshikiza performing at Monaco's royal wedding-- where the principality's Prince Albert II married South African Charlene Wittstock in July -- and Sweden-based Dimande Nkosazana taking first prize in a competition in Italy. more
Above, clip of opera singers Lunga Tubu and Nkululeko Maphoyi from Laura Gamse's 2010 documentary, Creators.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Africa: Videos for Ongoing African Contemporary Art Exhibits @ the Tate and MoMA

First collaboration between the Tate Modern and an art institution based on the continent, in this case the Center of Contemporary Art, Lagos.

Above, Adolphus Opara (Nigeria) on his portraits of Nigerian diviners posed in the manner of classic Victorian portraiture and Michael MacGarry (South Africa) talks you through works investigating the ongoing ramifications of imperialism in Africa. Kader Attia (France) talks his images projected in "Open Your Eyes" and Sammy Baloji (DRC) walks you through archival photos about mineral extraction powerfully reconstituted around new realities of mineral extraction in the DRC.

BBC slideshow - here. Reviews by Africa Art in London - here & Africa is a Country - here.

Below Justice Albie Sachs, one of the first judges appointed to South Africa’s new Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela in 1994, walks with curator Judy Hecker through the exhibition Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, still showing @ MoMA:

More @ the show's blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

South Africa: Youth "Uprising"

Today is the 35th anniversary of "June 16" - a 1976 youth uprising forever singed into the present by this iconic photograph. How far have black South African youth come since then? As part of a Virgin Unite sponsored 2010 study, the Branson centre of entrepreneurship decided to ask the youth just that. In the 5 clips posted a few days ago, South African youth share their thoughts on:

Becoming young entrepreneurs?

To be bossed about or be the boss?

What are the challenges women face?

How do your dreams differ from reality?

What part do role models and mentors play?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

South Africa: Portrait of the Prisoner as a Young Man

Above - May of 1961, a 42-year-old Mandela giving his first-ever interview to ITN reporter Brian Widlake as part of a longer ITN Roving Report program about Apartheid. Maria Popova writes over at Open Culture, ..."at that point, the police are already hunting for Mandela, but Widlake pulls some strings and arranges to meet him in his hideout." Fastfoward... Nov of 2010 - author Peter Godwin reviews Mandela's lastest bio Conversations with Myself for the Guardian:
By going to his most personal of jottings, we finally get a glimpse of the man behind the mask. Luckily, it turns out that Mandela has always been something of a hoarder, as well as a copious note-maker, though many of his notes were seized by the police over the years, so there are inevitable holes... One is reminded, too, of how steeped in history and the classics Mandela is. He read catholically, quoted liberally from War and Peace, and when preparing to launch "the struggle" consulted texts as diverse as Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Mao Zedong, and Menachem Begin. He studied the Anglo-Boer war in detail, and was later to use the Afrikaner arguments against his own jailers. But the Mandela we see here can also be abrasively self-critical. In a letter to Winnie, his wife, he quotes from As You Like It, "Sweet are the uses of adversity ... ", then says he has been looking over some of his earlier speeches and is "appalled by their pedantry, artificiality and lack of originality. The urge to impress and advertise is clearly noticeable."

Monday, September 20, 2010

South Africa: Photography of Alf Kumalo - Role of the Iconic Image, Cont'd

Kumalo talks about the importance of images to nation building. More on iconic images, nation building and collective identities - here & here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

South Africa: New Post-Struggle Literature

In the shadow of new stifling media laws, Wits university Leon de Kock leads South African authors, Deon Maas, Chris van Wyk, Thando Mgqolozana and Zukiswa Wanner, in a discussion about...

...writing after the struggle, defining masculinity and literary groupies (hit the cap).

South Africa: Humor in the Context of Black Modernity, Cont'd

Continuing a series of posts looking at all kinds of attempts, from within the context of black modernity, to milk the tragic cows of race and underdevelopment for humor. NPR has another review of South African dir. Jann Turner's White Wedding (2010). Check clip above for the scene described in the excerpt below:
...Like most grooms, Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi) thinks he has all the time in the world — five whole days to cover a few hundred miles — but he's not counting on buses that leave without him, a best man (Rapulana Seiphemo) whose girlfriend slashes their tires, and a granny who decides she'll skip the wedding but send a goat instead. Oh, and then there's the hitchhiking English tourist (Jodi Whittaker) the groom and best man reluctantly rescue in the middle of nowhere. Having just discovered that her fiancĂ© slept with her best friend, she launches into a lengthywhy-would-anyone-get-married? rant before discovering her rescuers are heading to Elvis' nuptials. This white English girl traveling with two black men raises a few eyebrows in rural South Africa. And as it happens, that was a good part of the inspiration for making the film. Director Jann Turner, who is white, and her leading men came up with their screenplay after taking a cross-country trip of their own along much this same route. Finding "whites only" signs more than a decade after the end of apartheid had them thinking about the transitions the country was still in the process of making.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

South Africa: The Photography of Zwelethu Mthethwa

...from Larissa Leclair's list of books on African photography

NYT review/BBC's slideshow of photos from South African photog Zwelethu Mthethwa's ongoing exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

He discusses why "a younger generation of postapartheid photographers is embracing color, and rejecting the stark dualities and documentary realism of black-and-white photography" with BBC's Mark Coles - here

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

South Africa: Marketing to a Black Post-Apartheid World

A fascinating Aljazeera Witness report that uses the "Soweto Beach Party" to look at how savvy entrepreneurs are making a business out of re-calibrating white investment dollars and marketing its products to the needs of black demand in post-apartheid Soweto. After watching the 2 minds behind the Soweto beach party at work, their reported "uncanny" understanding of the post-apartheid market place reminds me of the guys from this old Ford ad:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

South Africa: Role of the Iconic Image, Cont'd

Africa is a Country reviews some documentaries about the youth uprising in Soweto, June 16, 1976. CNN's Isha Sesay talks about the iconic photograph that's become emblematic of the day:

More thoughts on iconic photographs, the state and uprisings - here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

South Africa/ Palestine: Is Gaza the Middle East's Soweto?

TNR/Manhattan Institute's John McWhorter and Boston University's Glenn Loury resume their series of blogging heads conversations, talking about Israel's recent attack on the blockade bursting, Gaza-bound aid flotilla, that ended with the deaths of 9 civilians - Aljazeera compiles the footage here. Losing some of his affable cool, Loury, clarifying that Zionism isn't Apartheid, goes on to provide a damn good basis for comparing Gaza to Soweto under Apartheid:

Money quote: its time, the 60s, 70s and 80s, the South Western township of Johannesburg came to play a profound, metaphorical, symbolical, moral and political role in global politics. It represented something. And the thing that it represented is a historical force playing itself out at the Southern tip of the continent of Africa came in the fullness of time to be something that was not acceptable to the bulk of mankind.... something has been created, it's called Gaza. In the 21st century it looms in my imagination not unlike the way Soweto loomed in my imagination in the 20th century...
That's one side. Granted Gaza is so outside this blog's purview, yet a cinematic take on ongoing detente between the Israelis and the Palestinians that comes to mind is from Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai's Free Zone (2007). Specifically the scene in which 3 women: a half Jewish American (Natalie Portman), a Palestine-Arab (Hiam Abbass) and an Israeli taxi driver (Hana Laszlo), while driving past a portion of wall or fence or border indicating the separation of people, go on to lose themselves in the music coming from the car radio; lose themselves to some patch of common ground that, for a moment, breaks down the mental version of those walls, fences or borders that have separated them:

But in reality we have to ask ourselves what grievances are reinforcing some of those mental walls and why are they so formidable?  Noah Millman's post today over at the American Scene takes Israel's "horrific" actions out of the Krauthammer-TNR fact-bending blackhole and puts it in some irrationality explaining context:
Overwhelmingly, the sentiment among people I know in Israel was in favor of the Gaza war, in favor of the embargo and blockade, in favor of a policy of collective punishment against the people of Gaza. The reason is simple. From the perspective not only of the Israeli center but of people who consider themselves basically on the left, though not the far left, when Israel unilaterally left Gaza that meant the Gazans “got what they wanted” and left no basis for continued hostilities. The fact that, after the withdrawal, Hamas rained mortars and rockets down on Israeli territory, proved that Hamas had no “legitimate” political goals but was simply interested in destroying Israel and killing Jews. After that, whatever Gaza got, from their perspective, they had coming to them, and there’s nothing more to say. Israel’s policy-making no longer seems to me to be particularly related to concrete policy objectives at all. Neither the Lebanon war nor the Gaza war had actual military goals. Both were essentially wars for domestic consumption. Hezbollah and Hamas were firing rockets at Israel, and Israelis were understandably furious. “Something” had to be done about that, to let the Israeli public know that their leadership felt their fury. So the government did “something.” Outsiders criticized the disproportion of the response, but the point of the response was its disproportion – not because the only thing the enemy understood was force, but because, in the absence of any way to actually solve the problem, the only thing that would convince a domestic audience that the government felt the way they did about the situation was to respond with a fury proportionate to that of the electorate.
Reading Millman's piece I recalled what Gitai said in this Senses of Cinema interview about the Israel's public domestic barometer, and while that barometer is stuck at endless war, what a free zone really means:
Yeah, I think that obviously the Middle East has had very short periods of reasonable thinking or moderation on both sides. Either one side or the other has managed to destabilize their options, consistently. When you had the moderate Israeli government, [Yitzhak] Rabin was shot and there was a series of suicide attacks in the city which moved the public to the right. And when you had openness on the Palestinian side, you had assertive and pretty forceful Israeli attitudes to that, so I think this Free Zone – the real one [a sprawling, tax-free marketplace in eastern Jordan where Jews and Arabs from neighbouring countries like Syria, Israel and Saudi Arabia hawk used cars] and the metaphorical one – are fragile. They are [both] about the day-to-day, about people trying to build relations that are not just warlike. I think the very fact that the two sides will agree to disagree without shooting each other – for me, that’s a beginning.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

South Africa: "The Most Important Soccer Game Ever Played"

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" 19 mins documentary tells the remarkable story of the role soccer played in the lives of the political prisoners held on Robben Island.

H/T: Neo-Griot

Monday, May 3, 2010

South Africa: Rainbow Cinema - Intro and Discussion

Back in April, at the BFI retrospective on South African cinema, critic Trevor Taylor talks about a selection of films representing the Apartheid era and New South African Cinema.

The films range from Jans Rautenbach's much acclaimed Farewell Johnny (1970), Dirk de Villiers' rarely-seen exploitation flick Snake Dancer (1976) to Darrel James Roodt's Meisie (2008), filmed digitally with a crew of just three.

Click below for Taylor's talk + a Q&A with dir. Robert Davies about is adaptation of Paul Slabolepszy and Bill Flynn's play, Saturday Night at the Palace (1987).

Monday, April 5, 2010

South Africa: Eugene Terre'Blanche - R.I.P

RIP old soldier. Hope whoever killed you rots in jail, which I doubt would have been the case if it was the other way round and you were calling the shots.

Last we heard of Eugene Terre'Blanche was in relation to the phrase "Land Paid for by Our Ancestors", which we thought would make a great name for a new African country.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

South Africa: Three Looks at Athol Fugard

First, for Times Live, Refiloe Lepere looks at current adaptation of Athol Fugard's 1982 play, Master Harold and the Boys, on stage at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton. She talks to dir. James Ngcobo and actors Daniel Buckland (Harold), Pakamisa Zwedala and Nat Ramabulana.

From Times Live Zingi Mafeka's review:
The ever-wise playwright in Fugard ensures that we walk away with much more than just a dismissive, critical and condescending stance towards '50s white South Africa. Regardless of your race, as with most Fugard plays, it is the complexity of a character's humanity that we are asked to truly reckon with. It's as if Fugard were holding a mirror to our faces, daring us to stop and realise that, under the same circumstances, we, too, might act in as humanly flawed a manner as his characters. After all, this story tells of how he did the very same thing.
Starting off the Fugard Chicago 2010 (Jan 20 - June 15), below, a look behind the scenes at Johnathan Wilson's adaptation of Harold and the Boys (Jan 23 to Mar 21), starring Daniel Bryant, Alfred H. Wilson, Nate Burger, Jonathan Wilson.

This month saw the premier at the SA's Winelands film fest a new feature film adaptation of Master Harold and the Boys dir. by Lonny Price and adpt for screen by Nicky Rebello, starring Freddie Highmore, Ving Rhames, Patrick Mofokeng, Michael Maxwell, Jennifer Steyn, Nicky Rebelo.

South Africa: "Poverty Doesn't Know Color"

Africa is a Country recently featured the poor white problem here (and here), highlighting the fact that poor whites make up only 5% of SA -- and I'm imagining that's not a lot of ANC votes. So it's a revelation to see part of this 5% when cameras followed president Zuma to the Afrikaner community at Bethlehem informal settlement in Pretoria West.

Like the guy said, "poverty may not know color," however a lot of endemic and systemic problems continues to predispose more black, than white, paint to poverty's agnostic brush.

Monday, March 22, 2010

South Africa: Kentridge on Kentridge

William Kentridge stops at NY Public Library Live to talk about recreating Shostakovich's opera of Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose." Below, he talks about finding out the rules of the grammar of the performance rather than...

Kentridge has said there are parallels between apartheid and Stalinist states, begging the question if there is something in the Gogol story that has a natural connection to those other two worlds? New York Times critics — Anthony Tommasini, Roberta Smith and Dwight Garner go back and forth on Kentridge's take on Shostakovich - here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


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