The Javett-UP art center is a haven to many, especially the students at UP. It offers in-depth information through interdisciplinary journeys and stories of the arts. On 27 April (Freedom Day) PDBY visited Javett for the exhibition titled “Yakhal’Inkomo”, which can be translated to “Bellowing Bull’’. This collection by Bongi Dhlomo features pieces from other South African artists who were active in the same historical period (1960-1990). The title of the collection was borrowed from a song with the same title by Winston Mankunku Ngozi. This exhibition was curated by Lweendo Hamukoma and Puleng Art Plessie.
The aim of this collection is to engage the modern community with the country’s recent history. The first segment of the collection is “Township” and it consists of art pieces that tell the actual story of people from townships, rather than stereotypical narratives. Many of the pieces represent the absence of the youth in townships due to mass arrests in the apartheid era. Artists like Alf Khumalo captured the daily life of artists in townships, like how they would gather in the streets and just get creative. This exhibition also highlighted how black people used music to communicate during apartheid. For example, there were songs which were played by black people to alert each other of the presence of white police in the townships. This segment also emphasises the patterns of inequality in South Africa through art pieces that display the inequalities between males and females, and the inequalities between white and black people.
“Yakhal’Inkomo” also featured work by Lucky Sibiya, who is an artist that made the “THANDA BANTU” piece. This pieces explores aspects of spirituality, such as the artist’s experience of his father as a traditional healer, and Sibiya reflects on his life, who he is and where he came from, all through his art. Among the various segments of the exhibition, there was a segment which told a story of the displacement of black South Africans through exile and colonisation, titled “Estrangement”. The art pieces in this segment do not only show how the people who were exiled were affected, but it also emphasises how exiles and colonisation disturbed healthy family relationships, and how the whole estrangement of black people did not only affect people physically, but also mentally. There was one piece which illustrated an exiled king and this brought up the question of “is a king still a king even when he is exiled?”. Of course people had different views, but it all came down to exploring the brutality and oppression apartheid inflicted on black people.
After the exhibition there was a viewing of the 1959 film titled Come Back, Africa, which was produced and directed by Lionel Rogosin, an American independent filmmaker. This film looks at the life of a black South African living under the brutal apartheid system in 1959. The storyline of the film fits perfectly with the “Yakhal’Inkomo” collection, and added to the inspiration of the exhibition.
Photos: Cletus Mulaudi and Masehle Mailula