Friday, 30 November 2012


Wednesday was the final battle. The same lady comes every year from Bloemfontein to see if our French is up to par and give the final stamp of approval. Since my first year I have had some aversion towards her, but luckily I've learnt to smile and nod and wait for her to finish asking a question that is hidden somewhere in her ten minute elaboration on my dissertation. It all went fine. Now I am donedonedonedonedonedone. It is exhilarating and anxiety-inducing at the same time, this not knowing what and where and when and how.

Until the future and I see eye-to-eye, here are my summer reads, courtesy of one last meander through the university's library:

1. Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger (2008) 

2. Carson McCullers : The heart is a lonely hunter (1940)

3. J.P. Singh: Globalized Arts (2011)

4. Frank Rose: The Art of Immersion (2011)
      or a review on The Guardian

5. Ilija Trojanow: Der Weltensammler (2006)

6. Irvine Welsh: Trainspotting (1993)

7. Anna Gavalda: Ich wünsche mir, daß irgendwo jemand auf mich wartet  (1999: Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part)

8. Anton Harber: Diepsloot (2011)

9. John Kinsella: Peripheral Light (2004)

10. Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis ( 2003)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

You know I can't be nobody

Done with one. Now for some air guitaring. Then one last exam, one last hand-in, two last fights with the dragon and more air guitaring.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Don't fail me now

He holds 4 years of my life. What I wrote. What I saw. What I shot. And now he is refusing to give my memories back to me. He always seemed so reliable, earning my affection more than the others, keeping everything I could need in one place. Not anymore. He is stabbing me in the back, teasing me by lighting up but then failing to deliver.

We read that there was no way to get past his barriers, that opening him up was useless. We read that putting him in the freezer might work. It didn't.

Now I have to go fight with New World to get a new HD, but nothing that was on him.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

I need a map of your head

I would like to walk past all of you and listen in, because often what you say is not what you mean.

During invigilation I have nothing to do but stare at students' shoes and guess if they are on the right path with their essays. The idea is to check that they don't cheat, but here's hoping the pacing around is enough to deter any would-be cheater because I don't really wear my eagle-eyes when walking around the exam venue. Three hours is a long time to do nothing, really. The highlight is to strike out the time marked on the blackboard every 15 minutes, or if someone has to pee. Yesterday I even got to tell a girl not to scratch her back so audibly because it was distracting the students around her. Definitely the best moment. Mostly I just put my ipod on shuffle since I don't know all the music on there. Today was an Incubus/Tool/Tallest Man on Earth/Tracey Chapman- day with some Damien Rice and Seeed in between. Thank you shuffle.

So for three hours I observe. What pen you are writing with. How you did your hair. How you hold your exam booklet. If you've taken off your shoes. How you stare blankly into space. How you want to leave but are trapped in the middle of an aisle. How you shake your hand because it has become stiff from writing. After a year of being observed, of being judged on what I wear, how I speak and my skills in creating power points, I get three hours to study and make assumptions about who you are.

I would like to listen in and not just assume. I would like to hear the argument forming. I would like to hear inside, because you don't sound the same on paper.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

'til morning comes, let's tessellate

I was one of the boys. We had "Who could talk to the most people"-competitions and "jis that one is hot"-sightings. I saw myself as part of the crew, not an object for conquest. Later I wanted to leave, let them have their fun, sans moi. One offered to walk me to my car, but since it was literally parked in front of Arcade I saw no need. He came with nonetheless. While I unlocked and in my mind planned to give an awkward hug goodbye, Monsieur asks: "So, wil jy vry?" ("Do you want to make out?"). I politely declined, mumbling something about "not tonight, thank you", and leaving without awkward hugging. This asking for a gevryery was bad enough.


We went to school together. I was a year ahead, but not a year older. A mutual liking for Alexisonfire and Acid Alex was all we had in common. Now, I see you occasionally on campus, all black skinnies and black T-shirts and black chucks and a moustache too neatly trimmed. Hello, how you doing, well, ah, ok, I've got class, ok bye. 

Then at the place after a few drinks, my friends abandoned me and I had to listen to you talk about your perfect ex-girlfriend who dumped your ass a year ago. My advice to "man the fuck up" was met with: "You are such a bitch. But it works. Why did we never hook up?". Goeie genade. Because short men who only wear black don't do it for me. And because I am far from perfect. 


We were sitting outside. I knew you from class, but not really. You asked, and I did not object. Maybe it is not the question, but the person asking. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

On the radio

When I hear songs on the radio but not the name, I try to remember the lyrics, and Google them later. These two are this week's finds:

Monday, 12 November 2012

Pistol Dreams

I spend most of my nights in old sweatpants and a T-shirt, eating instant noodles while watching an excessive amount of series on my laptop. Not the past weeks though. I actually combed my hair and put on some heels. What for? Art. One has to dress up for art. Apart from Exposure and Exhibit A, there were the PPC Young Concrete Sculpture Awards, which sees concrete giant PPC (of the elephant ad) in partnership with the Association of Arts Pretoria and encourages artists to use concrete in unexpected ways.
What follow are a few images from the exhibit:

Liberty Battson, Concrete on Canvas, 2012


Vincent Elmer Siebert Kruger's Marikana hat a little sign that encouraged playing. Best. I mean, who doesn't like playing with something at an art exhibit, where normally you are too afraid to move in case you touch/damage a work and, well, have to buy something you cannot afford.

Colleen Winter, Pussy power, 2012

Evert Harmen van Engelenhoven, A little world with big possibilities, 2012

Close up of Zyma Amien's The day they came for our house, 2012.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

There is winter in every spring

I was sweating like a pig. It was really hot in the Rautenbach Hall. Maybe menopause was hitting me about 30 years too early, but I spent most of the final year Fine Arts students' exhibition, entitled Exhibit Athinking about if it would be terribly rude to lift my arms and walk around like a zombie to cool down. Or if drinking another white wine/fruit juice mixture would help. Or if there was some fan I could go make friends with. It was all to no avail. Maybe sweating this profusely could count as a workout.

I don't really know what artists do, except that they spend time in their studios drinking coffee, watching Adventure Time (or some equally banal series), moaning about having too much work to do, being rewarded for constantly fucking up whilst doing nothing, and going to a lot of gigs where there is mediocre art and free wine to make it all seem less mediocre.

Exhibit A somehow does not fall into the "hey art you bore me" category (I went again when it was raining and empty-ish to verify that the initial assessment was not due to heat stroke or something). There are a lot of different media on display, ranging from sculpture to photography to installations to drawings and paintings. However, many of the students did incorporate something digital, be it a projection, or a video, or thinking that showing the audience your Photoshop skills qualifies as a great work of art.

My cousin and I walked around, trying to decide what would we buy if we had money. If I was a somewhat trendy guest house owner, where the beds are covered with crisp white linen and the walls painted in something off-white/sand-ish, I'd buy some of Libby Bell's works to add a hint of colour and local flavour (because I am a trendy guest house owner, none of that typical 'this is Africa' art and beadwork would suffice).

Libby Bell,  This is my home, not yours -series, 2012

Libby Bell, Close-up of Acacia gates, 2012
Now, if I'd own a hair salon that charges exorbitant amounts for a terrible hair cut, I'd purchase one of Zaheera Ismail's hair-prints and hang them up so that clients could a) see what an awesome hair stylist I was, b) how when I do hair the face becomes irrelevant (except for the ear, of course), and c) how it becomes art (or something equally pretentious).

Zaheera Ismail, Red Space, 2012

My cousin liked Xandri Pretorius' prints of semi-fragmented people. It does fit in some clinically white bachelor pad, situated in some blocky appartment building in Joburg and bought as a 'thoughtful' birthday gift by a hipster friend that wants to be more than just friends.

Xandri Pretorious, Fragmented: Kayla (Or it could be Nushka, I cannot recall), 2012
To me it seems like all the 4th years wanted to prove that they could not in fact do anything that is similar to classical art and actually requires some effort and talent, preferring instead to take photos with their Canon DSLRs on 'Auto'-setting and watching YouTube videos in order to learn how to merge layers in Photoshop.

Cue Danai Chinyenze's "Photography/Digital Art". Although decent to look at, I assume he did nothing of substance throughout his studies at University and in order to produce an extensive body of work in the very short timespan before the final exhibit he resorted to taking meth and jumping around in front of (yet again) the camera. Those YouTube-advice videos prove fruitful as in every image we see multiple Danais merging on 2D. This is done mostly in black-and-white, because every one knows that photography in monochrome is always more art than mere mechanical (or is it digital now?) production.

Danai Chinyenze, 2012

Heidi Fourie produced buy-able paintings if one is old and/or likes life to be still. I mean, she can paint, that is indisputable, but I wonder if her skills would not have been better used on something besides collections of tea bags and dying Frangipani flowers.

Heidi Fourie, 2012.
Justin Bergh did a number of chalk, charcoal and ink drawings of baboons, which I have no opinion on. I guess they would sell well because they are already framed and people could buy it and hang it up in their spare bedroom immediately.

Justin Bergh, Untiltled 6, 2012, and Allen Laing's pedestal and sculptures reflected in it.

In a corner of the hall Allen Laing has recreated his studio, because his sculptures are only noticeable if they are a chaotic clutter that threatens to fall from a slanted shelving unit. Art is not made only to be purchased, but I assume artists have to survive somehow if their parents are not rich people from Mpumalanga, or wealthy enough to fly their non-Capitalism-endorsing children to Dubai for a quick getaway. Laing might win prizes, but no one buys the stuff he makes. If I were not broke without the prospect of ever earning real money, I'd buy the pedestal he made to put his freakish little sculptures on instead of the art. I like the pedestal and am fascinated by the King of Limbs, but the rest I'd give to disadvantaged children to play with until the sculptures break and can be returned to the ground as dust. Hopefully Paris will incite some fresh inspiration where it is not Allentimeallthetime.

Allen Laing's  mock studio
There are two things I did like. One is a print by Zaheera Ismail entitled Screened Palm because it does not fit in with her hair-salon prints and looks ghostly. I watched Casper as a child, so ghosts are great. Or it could look kind of Cleopatra-ish because of the milkyness. It doesn't really matter what it looks like, though.

Zaheera Ismail, Screened Palm, 2012
The other is Annika Prinsloo's (Cut)opia. We were wondering if she had laser-cut all the little figures and details, but the absence of burn marks and being told that she hand-cut everything proved us wrong. The main reason I like it is because it looks like it took an enormous amount of time to make and a dedication to getting the works just right.

 Annika Prinsloo, (Cut)opia, 2012
Earlier I stated that Exhibit A did not bore me. Instead, I found it disappointing. Not all art appeals to everyone else, but the ability to appreciate what one does not like still has to be a possibility. And this is where most of the artists (some I have not mentioned because I just cannot remember their work and was thus not interested in photographing it) are a let down. It feels as though there is no real passion for their craft, as though they only produced enough objects and images because their degrees depended on it, not because they actually liked what they were doing.

Overall, Exhibit A was a lesson in personal disillusionment with what artists do. We grow up thinking that the stereotypical artist produces work because to live there is no other option but to follow this intense affection. Even though earnings are dismal, the artist must sway from the corporate path that others have taken, because his/her work is like a love affair, an ardent affection that has to be maintained, ha, til death do them part.

Instead, it seems like young artists merely make "art" because they want their parents to buy them an iMac and finance four years of mediocrity. Nothing I saw was inspired (except for Prinsloo, maybe). Art has to stir something, has to evoke an emotional response, but this was just bland, like getting a plain slice of white bread when you were expecting a Dagwood.

* I tried not to get the artworks' names wrong, but there might be errors.
** This is a subjective opinion, others might feel that this exhibit was great.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


This guy Michael and I share mutual friends and therefore our paths cross on occasion. Also, he is in his final year of Graphic Design, and I am in my final year of Visual Studies, and we both fall under the Visual Arts, so we've had a few overlapping classes. Last week the designers had their final year exhibition, and I was extremely surprised at what they could actually do. In class they formed this arrogant entity that swerved in five minutes late and looked down at everyone that did not do information design. After the exhibit (and obsessive verbal diarrhoea  about how awesome Michael is) a friend asked that if the designers could do all of these things, what had I spent my last four years on? My answer was: "Looking". I can look at things really well.

Visual Studies is not a glamorous field of study. You won't find a job as a visual studier, whatever that may be. You most likely won't earn a lot of money, ever. In fact, I have been told to not get married to anyone who did a BA, but should rather cast my love-net towards engineers and others who will actually earn some moolah so that I can continue looking at things. You need to be flexible, and to be willing to adapt to where you find employment. The law, engineering, finance, all of that is like this : [ ]. It fits nicely, there are rules and equations and things that bring order to the world. Looking is like this : __|~~~~|#|~~|~___``````+/~|~+°°|
It is a combination of signs and it is up to you to choose what it could mean, to interpret what line and shape and colour form.

On Thursday I handed in my dissertation. It is done. Now just write the French dissertation and wait for the December holidays to begin and mangos to be back in season. C'mon mangos. Come back to me.

Here are some images from the Exposure exhibit by the Information Design 4th years of the University of Pretoria.

Tanya van Tilburg

Friday, 9 November 2012

Dark Storm

N4 just before entering Hatfield
It had been excruciatingly hot all day. The kind of heat that makes one listless, unable to move, unable to concentrate, unable to do anything besides taking a long nap. 

A friend proposed an art exhibition to go to that night, and on my way there the sunset was marvellous. This image does not nearly describe the colour of peaches and raspberries and cherries and blueberries all merging into a glorious end to the day. 

It is strange to think how we are never afraid at sunset, but as soon as the last rays are gone and darkness descends, real and imaginary monsters find their ways to scare us. A sound, which during daytime would not even have been noticed, can make the heart quiver in the night. Maybe it is the threat of the hidden, of that which we cannot see, of the surprise that might be lurking, of an unexpected pounce on our sense of security. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

All my days

Where to camp?
A while ago I read Where The Music Never Stops: A Sobering Account Of Festival Culture by Joey Power on Thought Catalog, and damnit, I should have heeded his words, but still I went. Where? To Mieliepop festival in Lothair, near the Swaziland border. A friend asked me along because he had a free ticket. After the interesting experience that was Rocking the Daisies, I said yes, although somehow I knew I maybe shouldn't have. Ah. The morning of departure I told my mother that I hate camping, I hate not being able to sleep on that useless excuse for an inflatable camping mattress, I hate the sleeping bag, I hate having to schlep everything around, I hate pitching the tent, I hate always being either too cold or too hot, I hate the portable toilets and 5 minute cold showers. Basically, I hate everything about festivals. Except for the music. The music is what makes me forget all the hates and say 'yes' again, every time.

The whole thing didn't start out well. We left an hour and a half later than we should have, I didn't know the people we were driving with, and all in all I was just being insecure about the next three days. Like Joey Power, I kind of felt as though "I'd probably rather get blowfish poisoning than ever go to one of these things again". Which is not the ideal attitude.

So after a few hours of rock/metal blasting at us, we arrive and pitch the tents, but the wind is howling and it looks like paragliders readying for take-off. I get irritated at the other girl who embraces the stereotype of female helplessness. She didn't want to touch the tent cover because it was filthy, she couldn't stomach the sight of raw meat but was fine with it cooked, and she brought a suitcase. Maybe I need more girly friends to appreciate playing the damsel.

The Uriah Heep singer's boots. Hello!
But the bands that played more than made up for my negativity. I thought Uriah Heep was this group of old men who occasionally escape from the home in order to shuffle around on stage whilst  dancing to some pre-recorded track from the 70s. I was wrong. Terribly wrong. Uriah Heep was without a doubt the most fun band there, because of how much their music rocked and because they looked so kind (And those boots!). I just wanted to sit down for a cup of tea with them afterwards and ask them which one would like to be my substitute grandfather.

Their guitarist, Mick Box, made these fluttering movements with his right hand in between using his guitar like I imagine it sounds when I air-guitar. And now for his website's name: heepstermusic. Ba ha ha ha. Heepster. He has this little blog going, and he wrote about coming to SA and bla bla, but the best part was: "Walking around the site it felt like a sort of ‘Hippy,’ festival, just like the old days. There were however some really good bands, and a couple of those that I really enjoyed listening to in my room were, 'The Tidal Waves,' and 'Dan Patlansky'".

Dan Patlansky moves too much for my camera not to make him look blurrily evil.
Patlansky was supposed to play before Uriah Heep, but somehow the schedule was a few hours late, so he played a short set after them. Most people had left, so it was great standing in the front row and not being pushed constantly by other people. Also, one of the guys in our camp site somehow managed to get one of those white patio chairs and passed out, right there. So he missed the entire performance although he had the best, and only, seat.

Other bands that I had never heard of but that were worth a listen were Naming James, Chiba Fly, The Aidan Martin Band and the Smoking Mojos. Jeremy Loops, whose performance at Daisies was not that great, was outstanding here. Maybe it helps to play in the dark, because by then people have gotten up from lounging on the grass all day and a nice little bunched up crowd develops in front of the stage, instead of being dispersed into diasporic groups.

I could edit that for you, Mieliepop.
Overall, the venue itself is really beautiful and because there were only about 1500 people (compared to I think 18 000 at Koppi), the atmosphere was very relaxed. One never had to queue for showers or toilets (although I managed to always have to shower in ice cold water). It was a good festival. Suggestions for next time? To be there earlier or to get someone to save you a spot next to the river, then you don't have to sleep at an incline. And for the organisers to put up the line-up somewhere, or to have flyers with the line-up on, or to make it available online before the festival in a nice little jpeg or pdf. They only had this hand-drawn board next to the stage which was pretty useless.

If you feel like an Afrikaans review of the festival where everything is described as 'befok', look to Wat kyk jy's article.

Tidal Waves (?)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Everything but the sky (Reprise)

Jacob Israel and A Skyline on Fire and the screen, by Thorsten Grahl
I'm not a fan of silent film, and I am not hipster enough to lie about it. However, when Open Window decided to show Murnau's Sunrise with a modern-day soundtrack by Jacob Israel and A Skyline on Fire, well, then my inner cool kid yearns to add some points onto my hipster chart. I might not have Instagram, shop at the Neighbourgood's Market or ride around on a bicycle from the 1970s, but I can borrow a camping chair to watch a silent film made not-so-silent. 

Man, it was cool. Unexpectedly cool. Sometimes I felt as though the music didn't exactly match the action in the film, but perhaps that was the idea. The electro and often unintelligible, Bon Iver-like singing by A Skyline on Fire worked well with the film because it made one pay attention to what was happening on screen in order to see if Israel's music matched. If it had been just a silent film screening, chances are I would've snuggled deeper under my blanket and fallen asleep. But here the waiting for what sound would come next, and how would it match up with Murnau's film, made everything very exciting. Here is the statement by the artists:

In 2011, the iMPAC film festival approached us to write and perform a modernised score for the 1927 silent film, "Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans". The exciting possibilities of such an exercise, and the wine we were enjoying at the time, got the better of us, and we agreed to it. What followed was a month worth of planning, worrying, and file sharing. Everything culminated in a week of frantic writing and recording (sometimes concurrently), and a single rehearsal 2 hours before the film screened at the festival (this was also the first time that we watched the entire film while performing, instead of single snippets).

Songs For Sunrise is the edited version of the score, tidied into stand-alone songs. We tried to cast a wide net with the sounds in this album, trying to capture as much of the gamut of human emotion that film so effortlessly ran through. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them. 

- A Skyline On Fire & Jacob Israel

The Songs for Sunrise soundtrack is available as a free download here, and A Skyline on Fire has made their first album available for mahala as well if you click this

Hipsters in attendance