by Pam Dlungwana
How do you describe Inkanyiso to a foreign audience?
What is it?
Is it an artist’s itch to get back into the activist pool because that is how they have framed their practice in the global sphere?
Is it an philanthropological knee jerk from someone who has some cash flowing their way and wants to channel international guilt funds via the afro-queer expressway?
Is it an effort of one individual to Sankofate* back into that which they are most familiar, a space of radical and grassroots (to borrow a once abused ANC expression) community activism with links to an umbilical narrative digital reality and reportage on afro-queerity and all that encompasses in one easily accessible space?
I think it is the latter, that at least is what I told a room full of Belgians attending the screening of ‘Difficult Love’ on Monday the 16th of June 2014 at Bozar Palais Des Beaux Arts.
Zanele Muholi was invited to be a part of Christine Eyene’s ‘Where We’re At!’ exhibition in Bozar this past week and because she had obligations with her alma mater at Ryerson Image Center, Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, she asked me to go along as her avatar, charming! I look nothing like Zee and have none of her charismatic church leader qualities but we booked the flight and after a 13 hour flight I was on a train full of drunk Belgian football fans headed for the festival. I read up on the festival, Christine and some of the panelists featured in the festival programme.
I left South Africa on my birthday counts for why it is I was able to fly with ease, I am a nervous traveller and find that copious amounts of booze ease the grease, I snoozed all the way to and from, bless the prohibition mavericks.
On landing I met a friend at the Sheraton Hotel for a light lunch and ‘Howzit?
I took a shower and later a tram to Bozar for the artists’ talks and found the event informative, the audience curious and engaging.
I arrived at Bozar in time to hear Alberta Whittle speak on her works, which unlike other works (here I am talking on medium versus content) are throw-aways. There were posters which were very anti-thesis of commercial art but manage to pose pertinent questions on female representation in dance hall culture in the Caribbean.
I was struck by the nature of the work, where it performs itself (a hyper-public sphere) and how immediately accessible it was in terms of its visual content and was forced just minutes of that awe to reflect on it’s accessibility in terms of discoursive content within that space. (the taxi rank, the club, random public wall). I nodded and cheered as she spoke, she was one of a handful of artists that spoke in English and I was unashamed of my inability to express myself in French, fuck ‘em, they can’t even say my name right.
Post the talks we were entertained by the Palais Des Beaux Arts for a dinner at a restaurant close by. We mingled, mindless chatter (chatter of the networking kind – painful) and from this I was saved by Veronique, long time friend and collaborator of the centres CEO and Christine the exhibition curator. Thank you lawd for major miracles, I cannot lie where it counts.
At the end of the dinner we walked back to the hotel, we chatted, we were tired from the travel from our various homes (South Africa, Australia, DRC, France, etc…) everybody just wanted a slow lie in.
On reaching the hotel, I left my newfound crew and went out in search for queer central instead where I met Manuel and Mateo and enjoyed Chimay Blonde (a beer I have an APB on in our local fridges it’s not even a slight joke) and some tasty ass Brussels drag fun. Gawd bless the Queens!! I slept at four am, happy as a lark.
Happy birthday Ms Pam, you sure deserve the fun!!
I dreamt of little, not my talk at 8pm the next day, not of shopping, not of my girlfriend or that tasty piece of ass I couldn’t get two breaths in to even mac at the club. Sleep of the dead.
Previous by Pam
2013 April 30: this summer