SPARCK map Kakudji NBG

DiArY oF a PaRaNoiD sChIzOpHrENiC
5-15 March 2009 |
15 March - 16 April 2009
Johannesburg | Cape Town,
South Africa

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The first leg of the residency was a 10-day, get acquainted stay in Johannesburg. There, SPARCK had arranged for Kakudji to participate in Urban Scenographies, a residency project sponsored by two artists’ collectives, ScU2 (based in Paris) and Joubert Park Project (Johannesburg). Urban Scenographies brought together over 30 artists from four continents and gave rise to two key events:

-  A three-week residency in the heart of downtown Joburg, in a neighborhood called Doornfontein. Once a segregated hub, Doornfontein has now been largely abandoned by the white business community that dominated it until the 1980s. Today, it is one of the most cosmopolitan spaces in the city, home to women, men and children from across the African continent. It is also a very tough place, with a great deal of poverty, mostly left to its own devices by a city council that prefers to focus its attention on wealthy suburbs to the north and burgeoning business districts far from the urban core.

- A three-day festival of performances, exhibitions and installations.

Both the residency and the festival took place in and around the Drill Hall, a recently renovated 19th century prison where the infamous 1956-57 “Treason Trials” took place, marking the beginning of mass arrests and decades-long jail sentences for leaders of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. Located in the centre of Doornfontein, the Drill Hall has become one of the most vibrant experimental arts spaces in contemporary Johannesburg. For info on and pix of the Urban Scenographies project at Drill Hall, click here. To learn more about Urban Scenographies more generally, take a look at our Partners page; you’ll find a link for them there too.

While at Urban Scenographies, Kakudji recorded over 25 hours of video. These he edited into a one-hour documentary about the residency. Excerpts were shown at Théâtre Paris-Villette, one of France’s foremost performance venues, during an event staged there by the ScU2 collective, titled Urban Scénos << rr // ff >>. For more about this event, click hereThe entire film was shown in June at Art Basel, one of the contemporary art world’s most prestigious events. 



This was the heart of the residency.

After Johannesburg, Kakudji moved on to Cape Town. During his four-week stay there (16 March-16 April 2009), he produced a prodigious body of work: four dozen collages, hundreds of digital photographs, some 20 hours of video footage and a book of pop-up images.

The collages Kakudji made in Cape Town are part of an ongoing, widely followed series entitled ThE SeCrEt DiArY oF a PaRaNoiD sChIzOpHrENiC (check out some of the previous work here). Kakudji authored a special South African chapter of the diary. At the core of this was a highly original and insightful use of local currency, which the artist deployed to frame his perceptions of Cape Town and South Africa more broadly, in response to a central theme of SPARCK’s NET/WORKS programme:  the art of the deal.

"Art of the deal" refers to something quite specific. SPARCK is interested in thinking through how economies work off the books. Much that is written and said about Africa by the IMF and the World Bank, by scholars, pundits and journalists across the world, focuses on so-called “informal” or “parallel” economies. SPARCK objects to these terms and to the negative connotations they carry. How can we define as “informal” or “parallel” economies that are the daily life force of hundreds of millions of people planet-wide? What may appear informal to bankers, accountants and politicians is often, in fact, highly formalised. And what may seem “parallel” is more often than not central.

What this looks, smells and feels like was a central focus of Kakudji’s residency. Economies - everyday sweat and labor by folks who don’t have a tax-paying, put-your-tie-on-and-hop-in-the BMW job - are at the core of his Cape Town Diary. The harshness of it all, the no-holds-barred violence of late capitalism, is present in each and every one of the works he created, mixed in with a powerful double-shot of irony and humour, driven by images sampled and pilfered from multiple sources. No photoshopping, no photocopying, just the rough, raw stuff of daily encounter: newspaper adverts, bank flyers, porn pix, money (the real thing, intended to feed him but used, instead, to make collages), glued to basic A4 paper, with titles that twist and challenge notions of worth, success, beauty and power. Individually and as a body of work, Kakudji’s Cape Town works indict absolutely. They are a frontal attack on the hypocrisy of those who hold the reigns of power and on the economic exploitation that allows them to do so.