Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Workshop, Middelburg,South Africa.

I am currently leading a workshop in Mlhuzi, the township attached to Middelburg (Mpumalanga) the town I grew up in. I worked with a new NGO Uprising Youth MovementThese young guys from Mhluzi started this to empower the youth there. 

I have to confess that it is my first time in Mhluzi (and a township) even though I grew up right here in Middelburg. I realized I still had a ton of misconceptions about this township and it was good to have them all shattered.

Uprising Youth Movement are great hosts and the guys in the workshop are really making it so much fun for me. The participants of the workshop are between 19 and 22. They all came based on their interest in artistic fields. They are really a wide group; aspiring poets, dancers, actors and visual artists. 

I introduced them to some of my work and mainly to the things we do at Isola Art Center; introducing the ideas of collective work, Fight-specific art, using your art within your neighborhood and working with small or no-budgets.  

I have to say the outcome of the workshop surpassed my expectations.My original plan was to create a fictional newspaper with them that interpreted their battles in their town  into illustrated stories but it has developed based on the interests of these participants into a theater piece that they now wish to carry on and develop even after this one week workshop.

The starting point of the workshop to talk about their local fights in the community. They mentioned a few things, also mentioning the struggle of learning and developing as artists when they are isolated from main art scenes and do not have access to formal educations. I am wondering how one can introduce support into small towns so that these youths can have more access and contact?

The one issue that came out as their biggest fight was the fight against the drug Nyaope which has led to the death of many of their peers, but is also a large source of violence and crime in the neighborhood. It also seems that there is a lot corruption and under the table deals between authorities and drug dealers.The guys decided to take on this for their project and is now writing script and thinking about how to perform it. They also told me that they hope to continue doing projects with each other after the workshop which is I think the best outcome one can hope for. 

Thank you to all the guys participating, Uprising Youth Movement and the church that gave us the venue to work in.  More pics to come at the end of the week.  Most of the pics below were taken by the participants themselves using my canon 350 D. 

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