We know far too little about the micro-practices, affective tremors, carefully laid out plans, intentionalities and systemic logics of livelihood beyond the boundaries of abject marginalization to make any kind of obvious sense or render plausible conjectures. We are too ignorant. We have no idea of what is really happening in the interior landscapes, imagined trajectories or viable practices that would hold the key to alternative African urban future  -Edgar Pieterse, Urban Future Manifestos, 2010.

interface2012  (Feb-Nov) engages the challenges of urban-ization through creative interventions. Five artists equipped with iphones embarked in an intensive process of unearthing and mapping of hidden narratives along an existing unrecognised corridor of pedestrian movement from Umkhumbane (Cato Manor) and Warwick Junction (city).

Ephemeral and intangible urban narratives are too often ignored in the process of space  making. Theses types of narratives provides counter-foil to the disciplining, rational use of space defined by planners, architects, engineers and owners of capital. In partnership with the local Cato Manor artist’s association dala conceptualised a platform to explore the possibility for a specific local community (the CityWalkers), in the exercise of their freedom, to become the inspiration and guide for development in the city a meaningful and humanising manner. Organically people traverse the city in an uncontrolled, irregular fashion bringing spatial narratives into being.

This philosophy inserts the essential living– or creative component – into the otherwise arrogant and inflexible modernist viewpoint opening up liberating and humanizing possibilities of transformation – both of the self and of society.

‘pedestrians botanise the asphalt’ Walter Benjamin

interface2012 is a process emerged from dala’s CityWalk initiative. The CityWalk, was conceptualized and implemented in 2000, was a way of directly engaging and observing the flux and mutability of Durban. This initiative began with an interest in mobility and how people navigate to and from the center of the city. The CityWalk raised questions about the origins of this urban pattern. Where were these people coming from and what guided the way they negotiated their way to the city center? Importantly it was noted that people walked to the city to save meager financial resources, the urban poor paving their way to new personal and spatial formations. Through the walk it has also been observed that informal micro-entrepreneurial initiatives and their organisational system or lack of, materialise from an organic intelligent consciousness which seem to be have put in place from the users of the space.  A ‘productive dystopia‘ perhaps.

Umkhumbane (Cato Manor) is in the greater Durban area of South Africa. Historically it would have been a ‘dormitory’ township where migrant labor would be housed for the apartheid economy. The township also experienced debilitating political and state violence during the 1970s, and 80s. Post apartheid’s rapid urbanization has seen the township undergo a transformation into a ‘peripheral’ space with informal dwellings to accommodate the increasing migration from the rural to the urban area. Together with present socio-economic challenges these factors could be seen as the push elements or a source of urban movement to the city center.

The Cato Manor Artist’s Association was experiencing their own challenges. These senior artists felt that their practices lacked possibility because of their lack of exposure to new technological possibilities. Interface aims to address this challenge by creating an environment where these artists will acquire skills related to these technologies through workshops and mentoring to explore its potential, build capacity and strengthen partnerships.

The Artists


The Catalysts

Bridget Horner>urban planner>Space Syntax>measurement/study of people through urban spaceThando Mama>artist>identity+technology>new media as a form to explore identity in a post apartheid South AfricaWayne Reddiar>educator>history of new media>art moving in new dimensions>art as a service

The Concepts

Langa>sculptor>citylove>love as foundation in the process of citymakinglovers corner:a well known spot along the CityWalk,where lovers sit /wait for each otherartistic interventions as a form of curiosity, strategically inciting dialogues in order to concientise the walkers about hidden narratives in the city.

clay on rocks:the installation acts as a complementary action to the mapping of stones as a symbol of love in the city along the route.

Zamani>painter>kraalcity>exposing the contemporary in the traditionalziyobuy’ izinkomo zobaba-the cows are coming home. zamani’s impression of the CityWalk as a ‘blueprint’ for his process of painting with his iphone.the exploration of sacrifice:from a traditional to an urban practice-from the ground to the 13th floor.How does the one connects to the ancestral ground in an urban setting?mapping the city on his ‘canvas’, Zamani collects ‘pixels’ for his painting from the township to the city center.

Neliswa>dance performer>whispering sweet something>the city as a stage-the stage as a cityNeliswa investigates how trade in the city is as much people livelihood as it is a way for maintaining relationships. she draws a parallel between the hardship of a trader and that of a single mother (herself)exploring the city as a stage where ‘cultural actions’ (Paolo Freire) open up a platform for the mapping of people’s movement through the city as a way of inscribing the urban space into place.

Rafs>photographer>invisible growth>concrete jungle :a mythconcrete jungle-city as a paradox-Rafs is mapping the ‘urban cracks’ as a parallel invisible urban force.

Nthokozo>poet>texting the in-between>body as text>deconstructing context

Madala>musician>ridiimm of the walkers>departure from Maskanda music which is a zulu tradition of playing music while walking

The project will be presented at a car wash in Umkhumbane on the 24th Nov2012.

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