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Casco vibes thrill audiences






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14 March 2008 - On one of the hottest summer days in tropical Durban the Cascoland festival had its day supreme. Gathering at the Red Square for the start of D'Urban Experience, a joyful and highly professionalized parade advanced into the streets of the inner city. Leading the pack, a fired up creative director Fiona de Bell, charged through the crowds holding a stepladder in her hands, intervening with an unexpected ‘guerrilla’ act in the midst of public territory.

Arriving at the Muthi market her long planned theatrical experience came to fruition. No longer her parade was an intrusion of out standers but it had become a theatrical conversation between artist and audience. The question marks, was this a demonstration of housekeepers or disillusioned cleaners? finally subsided and all what counted was a short moment of theatrical bliss under an African sky.

Dozens of visitors were tunneled through an emotional mind trip that made them wonder if they should laugh or cry. Laugh because Cascoland’s Urban Experience freely offered the qualities of a fun arousing circus. Cry because a new found self realization about home and fellow citizenship, and the slashing down of mental barriers that keeps one away from the other, gave insight in a possible new and brighter future. One where segregating thoughts and actions, born out of the conflict between color differences or economic status, can no longer exist.

Seeing a harmony of smiles on the faces of Cato Manor residents or white visitors who had never seen a township in close up, was certainly an achievement. That perceived poles enjoyed a moment of togetherness will long be remembered. And that some might have had difficulty restraining a tear of liberating joy, will stay a well kept secret. 
       

Madala Kunene soothes ‘Little’ Cato Manor


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7 March 2008 - It was one of those outer special evenings whereby the people of ‘Little’ Cato Manor and the visitors of Cascoland were treated on a truly mind relaxing experience. All thanks to the magical music of Durban based musician Madala Kunene.

Even though Kunene is world renowned for his trance like traditional South African music, and has been on stage all over the world with famous world musicians, he didn’t seem to mind the extraordinary setting for his performance. With his back facing a derelict building and the audience seating made out of hay bales, he gladly became part of the challenge.

However impromptu it was, Kunene’s music blended into the whole atmosphere with great ease. The people of ‘Little’ Cato Manor were certainly more than surprised that such a great musician would ever come and play for them.

Invitation to the Cascoland Parade






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March 5 2008 - Cascoland invites you to come and experience an inner city art trip, dubbed the Parade. It will highlight the work of individual artists, architects and designers from South Africa and Europe. You will become part of a festive walking trip which will bring you to not too obvious places in Durban where you will be hosted by Cascoland in collaboration with local people.

The Parade will start each day at Nicol Square Parkade, where you can park your car securely (from Mon - Fri on level 8, Sat/Sun on level 3). From there the Parade will start at 4.30 PM strictly. You will be accompanied by a mixture of guides and performing artists of the Mobile Bin Band.

The Parade will first bring you to Warwick Triangle. You will experience the vibrancy of this transport hub and market place area while you are walking on your way towards Warwick Park, your first festival destination. On your way there you will be surprised by different artistic interventions.

Arriving at Warwick Park a host of festivities will be in full swing. You can make your dearest wish public in the ‘Mobile Wish Photo Studio’ or pick up some gardening ideas from the ‘Guerrilla Gardeners’. The ‘Mobile film screening’ team will bring you some visual entertainment. Several architectural design objects will be on display in the park.

After approximately forty minutes you will have the choice between two other Cascoland festival locations: ‘Little’ Cato Manor or The Drop in Centre at Point Area. Whatever choice you make, you will be transported in VIP mini busses to this second festival destination.

If your choice is the Drop in Centre you will be hosted to a puppet show performed by street children. Our animation team, Moving Hands, will treat you to their latest workshop material shot in Durban. A vee-jay stage will entertain you while you check out the ‘Howzit’ project, designer made furniture.

If your choice is ‘Little’ Cato Manor you will travel to and experience the village atmosphere of township life. You can see the results of several gardening projects. A mobile inflatable swimming pool will be operational and an artistic ‘Arena’ will host performers. Just like in Warwick Park the ‘Mobile Wish Photo Studio’ and film screenings will also take place here.

At Warwick and ‘Little’ Cato Manor food and drinks will be available. Between 19.00 Hrs and 20.00 Hrs taxi busses will shuttle you back to your car at Nicol Square Parkade.

Once again, Cascoland invites you to come and experience a festival out of the ordinary. A Parade with three locations, and in between, interventions on a trail that many have not trod on. Take your chances and enjoy a festival that might change your pre conceived perceptions of fellow citizens!  
     

Cascoland features on national television

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Click on the panorama to enlarge --------------------------------------29 February 2008 - All work came to a standstill at Dala Collective workspace Friday afternoon when SABC, the South African broadcaster, in it’s Yo-TV youth program, broadcasted an item on the Cascoland festival. Everybody gathered around and was glued to a small little television set highlighting what Cascoland has in store for Durban during the festival week (7 to 16 March 2008).

There were some interviews with artists and the bus trip during the Cascoland press launch was shown. Then an enigmatic Cascoland media team leader Roel Schoenmakers invited all Durbanites to come and enjoy the festival.

All in all it was a good day for Cascoland. Musicians start to drip in at Dala Collective working space to show Cascoland their musical abilities. Today there was a group of young hip hoppers showing their talents. They were immediately led to the Cascoland stage for an impromptu performance before the whole Cascoland crew. The Cascoland energy is gradually being felt and brings the so needed momentum to pull off another great festival.

‘Bag and Forth’ targets pedestrians




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27 Februari 2008 - A white woman sitting behind a sewing machine on a busy street around Warwick Junction, Durban, is not a very obvious sight in a society where race differences are still a contentious issue, one would say. Through Cascoland however these kinds of pre conditioned perceptions are challenged without much ado. Simply challenging the fear factor in one’s self, and the space around, through art ….and some common sense, that is all it takes.

Challenging these socially restrictive motives is exactly what designer Marie-Jose Hamers did today. Without fear, building momentum for the public art festival that lies ahead. To forge social partnerships through a simple but kind gesture towards the people that form part or daily make use of the public space around Dala Collective workspace.

Designer Marie-Jose Hamers hit the street with her ‘Bag and Forth’ project, situating herself outside Dala Collective workspace. In one of the concrete market stalls, she put up a banner inviting passers by to ‘swap your bag for 1 day & have it pimped’. In translation it means that Marie-Jose asks passers by to give her their bag for one day and she will beautify it. In exchange she gives them another bag for the time being.

Just like Indre Klimaite and Tamlyn Young’s ‘Mobile Wish and Photo Studio’, operational for a second day in a row, the ‘Bag and Forth’ project, socially, claims artistic territory for the Cascoland project. Both projects make people get involved without having to commit themselves too much. Marie-Jose’s project also has a little booklet that she wants her ‘customers’ to fill in. Basic but not too obvious questions like ‘today somebody said to me….’ , ‘first thing I do when I get home….’ , and ‘today I noticed….’, form another blueprint of the audience Cascoland can expect.  
 

Mobile wish and photo studio activated






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25 February 2008 - Lithuanian designer Indre Klimaite and Durban based artist Tamlyn Young joined hands today to execute their ‘mobile wish and photo studio’. Two ideas that blended perfectly together to create more visibility for the upcoming Cascoland festival from 7 to 16 March 2008. It is a clear example of how Cascoland works. Besides individual projects almost all artists are engaging themselves in some form of collaboration with other artists.

For this specific art intervention one of the main targets was to enhance the visibility of the project. Indre has already experimented with visibility projects during the Cape Town and Joburg editions of Cascoland. In Joburg she did that by collecting personal statements of pedestrians and printing them on small posters and then hanging them up in public space. This year Indre joins forces with Tamlyn who is in the process of developing her idea of collecting wishes from people.

Last week she already got dozens of wishes collected. Today however, by teaming up with Indre, her project got an interesting artistic injection. Both artists set up a simply built mobile studio outside the gate of Dala Collective working space. Before they knew it curious pedestrians got attracted to their mini ‘studio’. In one hour forty people had their wishes written down on paper and were photographed with it holding it in front of their belly.

By combining wishes and pictures several goals are met. On the one hand people are always pleased to have pictures taken of themselves. By printing them out on small postcards and even little posters, most participants were more then happy. Some even surprised that they didn’t have to pay for it. On the other hand these kinds of interventions localize the Cascoland content in an interesting way. The people that got photographed with their wishes will become part of art in a public space. They or others will start recognizing themselves and in that way become part of the Cascoland concept. In the coming weeks Indre and Tamlyn will execute more similar interventions. Let’s hope that some of the wishes will come true!
 

Press launch à la Cascoland





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Click on the panorama to enlarge --------------------------------------22 February 2008 - A press launch at Cascoland is always an unexpected affair where seriousness and playful theatrical antics are nicely mixed together. What to think of listening to an explanation what Cascoland is about while sitting in a bus and getting stuck in a ‘no go’ city zone? Having to annoy taxi drivers, genuinely creating even more chaos in an already over crowded area. Or seeing Missis Goodyear, Cascoland’s theatrical femme fatale, trying to serve juice on a small roundabout in the rumble of busy down town Durban?

It is an eye opener of sorts. An insight into the parade like Cascoland version that will be presented in Durban. Missis Goodyear played her role splendidly in an almost kaleidoscopic onion ring experience. First in the middle we have Missis Goodyear, high heeled and very busy trying to get close up with passers by to offer them a glass of juice. Then the second layer is a crowd of people looking at this strange looking woman; mesmerized, even afraid. Then as a third layer the Cascoland bus circling around the two other layers of public manifestation.

Further down the tour three sock sellers are entering the bus. They sing their call and answer song, praising the qualities of their produce. At the same time, in their song, wondering aloud, if the white Cascolites are not going to hijack them. Fear is clearly a universal condition of the mind. When the sock sellers are released from the Cascoland ‘stranglehold’ the poet Khaya Maseko starts his ‘this is not your city’ poem performance. After wiggling through the Warwick Triangle an excited bus crowd leaves the bus to enter home turf again: Dala Collective workspace.

Inside Dala, Major B, our own Dutch musical wizard, is already shaking his maracas on an impromptu build stage assembled with empty blue beer crates, courtesy of South African Breweries. Press packages are handed out and an informal atmosphere takes centre stage. Pizza baking outside, wine and beer and lots of networking is on the menu. The art loving scene of Durban knows that Cascoland is in town.  
   

Casco mobile film unit on the roll





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Click on the panorama to enlarge --------------------------------------21 February 2008 - The people of ‘little’ Cato Manor got a nice surprise yesterday. In the late afternoon the Casco mobile film unit came around for the first film screening, to the delight of scores of children. The wall of a derelict, burnt down, house sufficed to put up a sheeted screen. The mobile equipment quickly set up and the film started rolling.

On the program were animation films, all made in South Africa. The show started of with animation films made by children during the New Crossroads, Cape Town edition of Cascoland. A set of animations produced by Moving Hands, who specialize in giving workshops to children in the magic of animated film, got the children enthusiastic.

But the grown ups in ‘Little’ Cato Manor were also delighted by this visual intervention. Probably mostly surprised that anybody at all would come in with some positive vibes instead of tales of removal or restriction.

In the coming four weeks the Casco mobile film unit will be screening films each Thursday at ‘Little’ Cato Manor. On Tuesdays the Drop in Centre in the Point area was visited and the film 'Lucky' by filmmaker Avie Luthra screened. Soon there will also be Wednesday screenings at Dala collective workspace.

The film program was made possible partly through the enthusiastic support of the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, which organizes the Durban International Film Festival each year. They provided 'Lucky' and the animation compilation 'UNESCO, Afica Animated'. The animations are made through an initiative that tries to tackle the absence of locally made film programs for children in Africa. The animations on show came about through a series of regional training and production workshops. Muchos gratias to Tiny Mungwe of the Centre for Creative Arts for providing the before mentioned films.

The relevance of bird shit patterns




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Click on the panorama to enlarge --------------------------------------18 February 2008 - Fourth year students of the Durban University of Technology visited Dala collective working space to present their research results into the informal walking route from Cato Manor to the inner city. Some interesting results came out of this presentation which can be used by the Cascoland artists.

The students were divided into six groups, each tackling an issue: Building & Spaces, Transportation, Density of People, The City Image, Racial Regeneration and Social Interaction, all related to the route, its people and the adjacent areas.

When it comes to ‘building and spaces’ Cato Manor was categorized as a disorderly place, houses are scattered without any real plan. Towards the town centre, along the freeway, there is industrial activity and more towards town, streets are getting narrower and buildings become multi storey. Finally the city centre is very clustered with buildings.

The most interesting conclusion of this student group was their observation that the area between the rear of the centre and Market was a very isolated place. One where people don’t feel very safe. Because of the fact that Steve Biko used to stay around there, the students were suggesting to the artists to take that historical fact and the unsafety of the area as pointers to consider in possible interventions.

The second group looked into ‘transportation in conjunction with art’ on the route. Very interesting was how they looked at the aerial road map as a pattern. Clearly inspired by Doung’s fascination for things out of the ordinary, like bird shit patterns on the street, the students used Jackson Pollack paintings to show certain similarities between the natural world and an artist interpretation.

The reason behind using these similarities was to make a point of course. To them art should be much more integrated in public space. A clear suggestion was to make the pedestrian sidewalks wider, especially around the markets, so that tourists feel safer and that space is created so that entertainment is possible. Another suggestion was to intervene at zebra crossings to give pedestrians some extra safety.

‘Density of people during day and night’ was the theme for the third group. They went out on the route at different times of the day to find out about the density of the route. Interesting conclusion was that people use the walking route close to the highway not so much because of its shortness but that it feels safe due to clear lighting. Even though they experienced Cato Manor to be the most relaxed and friendly area during the day, at night the reverse was true. The main reason: scarce lighting. That was their overall conclusion for many other locations they saw. Lighting and safety are very closely related.

‘The city image’ group was very vehement about integrating nature into the city. As they rightly stated, South Africa and Africa at large, still have a chance to do things right first hand when it comes to integrating nature into public space. Even though Durban has many nice and well maintained parks, these are mainly situated in the rich and middle class neighborhoods.

The ‘racial regeneration’ group came up with the very touchy issue of wealth distribution. They also looked into the fact that the city was still very much segregated. Certain affluent areas are still felt to be no go areas for black South Africans. Even though people are free to move wherever they want, most black people only pass through them, not feeling welcome in any way. There are no public elements that entice them to think otherwise. They gave the example of the twenty tennis courts in West Ridge compared to zero in Cato Manor. The group was suggesting opening up space right there for people from other neighborhoods and different racial backgrounds. They were explaining that reasons need to be articulated so that people will start feeling interested in each other’s areas.

The ‘social interaction’ group made the distinction between the racial groups even more clear. In their behavior people in the mentioned areas along the route are very different. In the city centre a business interaction is just that; a rather cold exchange of money and goods. Even though the same capitalistic principle of course rules in Cato Manor, there is definitely a social touch to it. One is able to get goods on credit in Spaza shops, through which a bond is created.

Also the way people behave is very different in the researched areas. In Cato Manor people are much more social and preferably walk in groups. In Musgrave the average pedestrian seems to be in a world of his own with little or no inclination to communicate publicly. Warwick and Workshop area are clearly two areas where the idea of a rainbow nation might be evident. For the rest a lot of social engineering has to take place to breed a feeling of togetherness or at least understanding of each other’s cultural background.  
 

Major B ‘shakes’ Bank Gallery




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16 February 2008 - Imagine an up market gallery front, a former bank, on which dead animals are projected.  Combine this with an Elvis like performer with South American maracas who dubs an unknown language over video samples of the global village in half an hour show. Add to that a crowd of art lovers being flabbergasted by this pretty weird sight and sound. Bring in Major B., the Cascoland artist, performer and photographer who made this real time experience happen.

At times Major B. looked like a witchdoctor when he was shaking his maracas knee high, head down and chanting his Esperanto like language. Certainly when looking at the imagery he uses, Major B. definitely has taken in some tropical and spiritual ingredients in his soup. A tasty one, for sure.

To be honest, to see his live video/music performance at the Bank Gallery was indeed a treat. He combines analogue, obscure audio samples from all over the world and merges them in his own audiovisual recordings. These sounds and visuals form the basis and background for his vocals and maracas on stage. The mix of imagery, from winti weaving leaves in a Suriname forest to a motor cyclist gone wild on an American highway, keep the mind pleasantly occupied.

In the coming weeks he will certainly put up some more of his performances during Cascoland Durban 2008.

Cascoland artists swing into action






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15 February 2008 - After two weeks of acclimatizing and brainstorming over ideas most Cascoland artists have now made their first steps towards the realization of their ideas. Going through Cascoland’s Dala workspace this becomes very clear.

Doung Jahangeer, who is collaborating with Bert Kramer, is upbeat while he shows a three dimensional image on his computer of the structure they are creating together. It will become an inflatable structure of 3 by 3 by 9 meters. Besides the fact that one can experience this inflatable structure by going inside it, it will also be used for screenings and a swimming pool is envisaged. If all goes well they will built three of these installations in three different locations on the Cascoland route.

Moving Hands, collaboration between John Charalambous, Alison Scott and Carolyn Morton, have just come back from a filming shoot. They have been going to the streets around the Warwick Triangle for several days now to film people for their animation project. Their work will be showcased in different Cascoland screening locations.

Mark O’Donovan has found an assortment of ‘bells’ at Sunday’s car boot sale in town for his remarkable turnstile installation. On the Cascoland route, he will make a number of turnstiles. Every time somebody passes through one of them a bell, hanging above, will go off. If more people pass through the different turnstiles a melody starts shaping up. His idea of chain reaction will also be reflected in his garbage can project. Each garbage can will have an installation in it that will pop out on location. They will form a chain reaction together.

‘Go do it big man’ Clive Greenstone, always cheery and assertive, has picked out the specific sites he wants to intervene in. He will concentrate his efforts on ‘little’ Cato Manor for whose people he is going to create vegetable gardens. This is partly in collaboration with South African artist Bronwyn Lace, who will also work around the same theme. Both see it as important to include local residents in their work. For this purpose a group of volunteers in ‘Little’ Cato Manor has been formed.

Jair Straschnow and Gitte Nygaard are also getting their final plans materialized. They have set their artistic eyes on the UMTHOMBO Drop in Centre for street children in the Point Area. They are going to make a ‘suspended take a break seat in the tree’, a crossover between a hammock and a hanging seat, for the children. Besides that they have come up with the idea of ‘the mailbox/lockers’ project, a private domain for the street kids to lock up their private belongings. An official station highlighting the kid’s existence.

Then today festival director Fiona de Bell introduced her pizza baking oven at the Dala collective working space. This was complimented with the first session of the Refunc boys who printed car tyre impressions on t-shirts. A nice pizza bite, some groovy music and an enormous warehouse space to dance in uplifted the spirit of the Cascolites on this Friday.
          

Musical garbage surprise at Dala




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14 February 2008 - Cascoland’s Dala work space came to a standstill when an upbeat South African song literally came rolling into the building. At first everyone was wondering where it came from. Then suddenly it became clear that garbage architect Jan Korbes had made his first artistic contribution to Cascoland with a musical performing intervention: A rolling garbage can music blaster dubbed ‘pimp my bin’. A very suitable creation that fitted the surrounding because the municipal garbage company is the direct neighbor of Cascoland’s working space.

It was a good moment because some of the garbage collectors came to see the inventive creativeness of Jan’s musical garbage can, an object that they work with on a daily basis. It was also a good moment for them to find out why Cascoland’s working space is called Dala. They were wondering why they didn’t know it was called like that after all those years they had been working there. The answer came from Durban artist Doung Jahangeer. Dala is namely a Zulu word meaning ‘create or make’ and has just been initiated. It is an initiative of him and other Durban artists to turn this warehouse into a permanent artist working space.

This week Dala, nicely situated on the fringes of the busy Warwick Triangle, has become a very active operational centre for Cascoland. All in all between eighty to a hundred people are working there on a daily basis. A real mixed bag: students from Vega The Brand School of Communication, fifteen artists from different European countries, a same number of artists from South Africa and supporting staff.

Thanks to urban planner Prakhas Bika, who works for the Durban municipality, Cascoland was able to get the Dala working space for free. It used to be a former warehouse of the Kwazulu Natal Electoral Commission. Situated in a calm surrounding, neighboring the Durban bus depot, the artists have found a quiet and safe surrounding for exploring and activating their ideas.

Cascoland ‘bakkie’ lost and found




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12 February 2008 - It is known the world over that South Africa is a pretty unsafe country. Even though during both earlier Cascoland editions in Cape Town (2006) and Johannesburg (2007) theft was hardly experienced by the Cascolites, this year has started on a high.

Last week two of the Cascoland ‘rent a wreck’ cars were broken in. The car of a local Cascolite was almost broken in, but left paralyzed, not able to move left or right. Some body building Cascolites had to lift it up thirty yards (see picture) into the safety of the compound of ‘the White House’ (Cascoland’s house of residence).

Then last Friday the ‘ bakkie’ (pick up) of the BAT Centre was the target of car thieves. Two Cascolites were caught badly surprised when they came out of a shop and realized that the bakkie had gone. A few hours in the police station followed, overall annoyance amongst the Cascolites ruled with the loss of a very important piece of mobility.

Then four hours later the police called to tell that our dear bakkie’s security tracking system worked perfectly. The car was found back and was released after official paper work at the police station.
 

Excursion to little Cato Manor






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11 February 2008 - On the second leg of Doung Jahangeer’s city walk the Cascolanders visited what Doung coined ‘little’ Cato Manor. It is a small settlement of shacks which houses about sixty families. Walking through the settlement with their representative, Zazi, one gets a good idea of the harsh circumstances under which people here have to live.

There is too much rubbish lying around. Close to the road side there are some rickety rack toilets. Zazi explains that these are not even ‘long drop’ toilets. What is disturbing is that the only water pump for these people is just a few meters away from the toilets. A definite health hazard. The small river passing by the camp is the cause for frequent malaria cases. At least health care is freely accessible in nearby Cato Manor. Facilities like schools, however requires a few kilometers of walking.

Besides their pressing problems the view of this camp also gives the Cascolanders an insight into the resolve and inventiveness of its habitants. From an architectural point of view the structures in this squatter camp look quite solid. Many houses are made by using left over bricks found in the direct surrounding. Supported by long pieces of wood the stones are put one on top of the other. When the stone walls are ready wood or metal plates are put against it. Small windows appear and doors are implanted. Even though it all looks a bit shabby, looking inside one realizes that these people put a lot of effort into making their house look like an average and decent household.

There is also a sense of community. Zazi says that neighbors take care of his property when he is not around. And when things don’t work out security wise there are still the community meetings. Rather then calling the police to come into this community to solve matters they rather solve problems themselves. In the middle of the camp there is even an open area where people can meet. It is clear that since they arrived here seven years ago a sense of community has definitely developed. With the promise of re housing - five families have already moved out – at least the future looks less grim.

But moving from little Cato Manor also has its disadvantages. At the moment they pay no rent. In their new housing they definitely will. The thought clearly troubles Zazi. Even though he is a mechanic by profession, getting a job is not very easy. Usually he works just for a few days and then there is a gap again. These jobs are usually labor intensive like digging trenches.

Reasonably subdued by the realities of poverty the Cascolanders end their excursion. Not a lot of words are said when saying goodbye. The community members of Little Cato Manor are also looking on wearily at the sight of so many white people in their little village. A small Cascoland intervention will certainly break the ice between these two poles.

Artists visit centre for street children

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cascoland In their ongoing investigations to find venue’s for Durban’s edition of Cascoland the artists went to visit UMTHOMBO’s Sakh’sizwe Drop in Centre in the Point area close to Durban harbor. After being welcomed they were showed around. Sakh’sizwe has been in existence since 2004 and has rapidly developed itself as one of the most successful street children projects in South Africa.

10 February 2008 - The word Umthombo means ‘well spring’ in the Nguni language. There is however also a tree that carries its name. It is a very strong tree which grows in dry areas of the country. The soil around the Umthombo tree is always moist. Because of this it is considered to be a tree that brings hope, one that flourishes against all odds.

Umthombo’s work for street children mainly focuses on ‘after care’ (bringing children back to their families) and a ‘back to school program’. On the site there are many different activities. The kids get computer lessons, there is a movie club and in the afternoon there is soccer, surfing and capoeira.

Inside this little drop in centre there is room to shower and wash clothes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided. Because Umthombo is not allowed to let children sleep at the site, the movie club was initiated. From 10 in the evening until 5 in the morning street children can come and watch movies. In that way the children are safe and can even get some rest.

Each day approximately seventy children come to the drop in centre. Umthombo is now planning to create satellite centers around town to cater for the needs of Durban’s many street children. One of Umthombo’s big achievements was the first ever ‘indaba’ (literally: an important conference in Zulu and Xhosa) for street children. More then two hundred children met with official local government representatives. This changed the attitude of City Council towards street children. Hopefully this will have an effect on their policy towards them.

With its creative interventions Cascoland engages and will stimulate that dialogue and furthermore will bring up inventive ideas that can benefit Umthombo.

A trail of in between





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Durban based conceptual artist Doung Anwar Jahangeer directs a group of Cascolanders to the inner heart of Musgrave shopping centre. While the group gathers around him he starts his philosophical discourse of ‘spaces in between’ that we will discover while walking his alternative ‘City walk’ in Durban. For him the concept of spaces in between is not only applicable to space and objects but also to human beings.

9 February 2008 -Especially in the South African context and its history of Apartheid, spaces of in between is definitely applicable. While we stand in front of the information desk of Musgrave shopping centre he explains about the post Apartheid black and white divide, how that manifested itself in architecture and the use of public space and how this context of divide still rules in current democratic South Africa. With the only difference, Doung adds, that well to do blacks now have become ‘whites’ and also try to segregate themselves from their own kin.

Like any other city in Apartheid South Africa there was a clear physical divide between the races. Architectural lines that are still visible when one goes on Doung’s city walk. However, before he will show us - later in his city walk - the ‘gates or transit points’ to white or black areas, he first concentrates on places like Musgrave and its symbolic impact on South Africa’s psyche.

In his discourse Musgrave is the epitome of man’s desire. Be it white, colored or black desire. If Gato Manor, the big slum in the hilly outskirts of Durban, is hell, then Musgrave stands for heaven. Doung points at the heavenly white ceilings in this posh shopping centre. With some imagination one can even see some clouds in them. Then he points at the windows of the shops. These are all large, slightly acting as mirrors to the shopping pedestrians passing by. Real mirrors, placed at strategic points, function as elements that clearly have to give the shoppers a feeling of comfort and relaxation, an illusion that all is well.

Even though Doung is not specifically anti shopping mall, he wants to at least make it clear that there is definitely a process of manipulation taking place in these almost surreal realities. There are whole audiences that come out of their gated mansions or neighborhoods and go to these well guarded shopping centers and make their daily round with a certain air of pretended security. There is hardly a trace of spaces in between in a pompous building like Musgrave. If so, it is probably immediately detected and eliminated.

It seems Doung needs a breath of fresh ‘in between space’ air to get himself and the Cascolites back into the reality of daily life. On the pavement at the back of Musgrave the first signs of in between are seen. Doung points at some stubborn grassy leaves growing in between the stones of the pavement. His finger goes down. Already one step out of the virtual reality of Musgrave, real life forces itself on us. Other pedestrians look on slightly surprised as some of us are making pictures of a piece of grass in between two stone tiles. Just a few yards away a woman is scraping the same grass away in between the tiles with a little kitchen knife. It is hard to fight the places of in between.

Doung shows us how inconsiderate city council can be from an environmental perspective. A nice tree is almost strangled by concrete pavement. One tree after the other we pass by is smothered, only leaving a five centimeter soil periphery around the tree. And of course, all kinds of little life forms are creeping up there. It is these seemingly simple observations by Doung that make his city walk so very interesting. His eye for detail of spaces in between and how he translates it into a philosophical discourse make this walk so different from any other excursion most people have ever been on.


A trail of in between (part II)

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cascoland
9 February 2008 - After a kilometer we suddenly bounce unto the Western Freeway. This is the major inland entrance to the city center of Durban. Along this route, all the way from Gato Manor slum, each day thousands of commuters come into the city to work. Many go with public transport, but many thousands also foot. It is those walking people and the route they use that Doung has been interested in for a long time and which will also be the major focusing points of Cascoland.

Not to waste energy these pedestrians have, in many locations along this long route, woven their own pathways to reduce on the amount of time lost to get into town. For some this path is their home. Doung shows us how a homeless man was trying to cater for himself along the highway. Close to his informal housing (a bus stop) underneath a bush, a tomato plant is ripening. In the context of this poor homeless man the tomato plant is of course of reasonable significance.

A little further, along the road that runs parallel with the Western Freeway, we come to a bend in the road. What we see is the asphalted road, directly adjacent to it the pavement and then as a third layer of the street a green zone. The green zone however, right in the curve of the street, has been trod on severely and an alternative walking route has sprung up. City Council of course reacts cross when seeing how their hard work of making green areas, is trampled upon. But Doung, again, challenges City Council for what happened here with this public space.

He says that there are several reasons not to use the pavement. City Council might think that these are inconsiderate people who don’t care about the environment. But there are other reasons for this public behavior. One is that many people who commute to town have a long walk to go and want to be careful with the energy they spend. Another reason is security. Placing pavements just beside the road sometimes can be dangerous. Last, and more philosophical, reason is that many people like to feel connected to the earth. They are more connected when feeling earthly soil under their feet.

Our trail of in between continues. We cross one of the bridges and continue following the Freeway. We end up at a small triangular park. This is clearly a pit stop for many walkers. Around the foot of the trees you can clearly see the stains of people who had to relieve themselves. It clearly has become an informal and ‘smelly’ public facility.

We are getting very close to the Warwick triangle. It is one of the most interesting parts of Durban because of it being the transport hub of the city. Formal and informal trade take center stage in this area. But behind the façade of this very active and energetic labyrinth-like public area, where trains, busses, taxis and pedestrians converge with each other, this is also a troubled area. One can only see it when one enters the side streets.

Most walking commuters enter the city at Warwick, the place also where many of them find employment or business opportunities. While we enter it we are greeted by African music, playing aloud from the radio of a taxi bus. Something one will not hear in well to do areas like Musgrave. Taxi drivers are washing their cars, overall people suddenly make much more use of the street as a venue for business. This area used to be one of the experimental areas in post Apartheid South Africa whereby people of different colors where allowed to live together, just like District 6 in Cape Town. But one day the bulldozers came and most of the houses where taken of the Durban map.

The atmosphere in Warwick is vibrant. Knowing that Warwick connects two well to do areas it also becomes a space of in between. One of the best views of this hectic area is when one is standing on the highest walking bridge - just before reaching the sangoma market - crisscrossing the Warwick triangle. Most energy of Durban converges here. There is the train station, the taxi busses, the big busses, the separate food markets and the other markets.

Every space is utilized to almost its full potential. We walk through all the colorful sights of Africa, from bright colored mangos to grapefruit, from cow heads to goat intestines etc etc. Strong natural odors enter our noses. When we leave the fish market and we are about to enter the handicraft market Doung suddenly stops. He points at the entrance. This is one of the entry points, or points of transit, that he has been talking about. Well to do South Africans don’t go over this line. Behind this (the markets of Warwick we have just visited) there is uncertainty, insecurity and most of all the end of illusions of being in charge. In Warwick life is in charge. In Musgrave it is illusions that are in charge.
 

Book and artist presentation at BAT Centre





cascoland

Click on the panorama to enlarge ------------------------------------------------ 8 February 2008 - In a festive atmosphere Cascoland has presented the catalogue of the Joburg 2007 edition, Cascoland, Interventions in Public Space, Drill Hall Johannesburg South Africa to an enthusiastic crowd at the BAT Centre. Cascoland producer Roel Schoenmakers called Joseph Gaylard, of the JPP project in Johannesburg (which was the inviting organization in Joburg), to the fore and handed over to him a first copy of the catalogue.

Roel and project manager Vincent Truter then took to the stage to explain the history of Cascoland and how it has evolved from its first edition on the island of Terschelling in The Netherlands to the subsequent editions in Cape Town and Johannesburg and now Durban.

Dutch Cascoland photographer Bart Majoor then put up a great musical show whereby he sang in a language that everybody might have thought they understood but was definitely not an existing language. He certainly stole the show that evening.

Then festival director Fiona de Bell took the microphone and introduced all the international and South African artists to the audience. With a PowerPoint presentation that gave insight into the work of each artist, and a small interview with each of them, at least the visitors got an idea of what Cascoland is up to the coming two months.