A small-scale hybrid form, created from a matrix of miniature cut glass bottles, and glass-diffused text animations, accompanied by a wall poster, presenting the words in English and South African (Sesotho) languages of Thabang Mofokeng, a South African change agent and leader of the HOT Rural Workers Collective.
There is no time to complain, the only remaining time is to start implementing change if not we will perish.
Ha ho na nako ea ho chacheha ka mohono, nako e setseng ke ea hore re fetohe eseng moo re tla timela.
O Tswellang, which translates to ‘sustainability’, was the first outcome from the long-term research project called Re-Future, which initiates a series of transdisciplinary, intercultural collaborative works designed with the township residents of Bloemfontein/Manguang, South Africa, working at the intersection of sustainability, community development and creative action.
During my initial trip to South Africa in 2016 I conducted extensive meetings with my collaborators to understand local conditions and needs, and learnt about the natural building processes being pioneered by the NGO Qala Phelang Tala (Start Living Green!), thereby meeting Mofokeng who discussed the related aspirations of his rural workers movement.
O Tswellang draws upon the vernacular of ‘natural building’ pioneered by collaborator/host NGO Qala Phelang Tala in terms of its low costs, under construction sensibility and the use of glass bottles and light drawn from low power source sources. My long term aim is to initiate a series of collaboratively-developed mobile art experiences, that draw upon cheap local materials, ultimately presented as part of a roving empowerment-focused festival of ‘natural building’. These works seeks to embody both the urgency and promise that empowers local ‘change agents’ in modern day South Africa to develop affordable, sustainable, livable dwellings made from easily obtainable materials such as old tyres, bottles, wood, mud and tin.
O Tswellang is therefore both an experiential artwork designed for galleries and festivals and a framing device for the Re-future project, which will seek to stimulate new networks of 're-futuring’ throughout some of the poorest informal settlements in the Free State of South Africa.
1: Solo exhibition, Over Many Horizons, UTS Gallery, Ultimo, Sydney, Aug 3rd- Sept 28th 2016, (An official event of National Science Week), Opening 6-8pm, August 2nd, 2016
2: Solo exhibition, The Mesh, Stegmann Gallery, Sasol Library, UFS, Bloemfontein, South Africa, Jul 17th- Aug 11th, 2017, (An official event of Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival/Tsa-Botjhaba), Opening 8pm, July 17th, 2017
Keith Armstrong (Artistic director), Thabang Mofokeng (Words)
PARTNERSHIPS: Australia Council For The Arts, UTS Gallery, Curated by Tania Creighton and Eleanor Zeichner, QUT Creative Industries, National Science Week 2016, Sydney Science Week 2016, Sydney Design 2016, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, Dr. Ricardo Peach, Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD) - Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival/Tsa-Botjhaba, University Free State, Centre Development Support, Qala Phelang Tala, Anita Venter, Angela De Jesus, Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, University of the Free State, South Africa, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Flanders Foundation, Thabang Mofokeng, HOT Rural Workers Collective, Botshabelo Township, South Africa. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
The parent project, Re-Future is presented at part of the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD), an initiative of the Vrystaat Art Festival and the University of the Free State. Kindly supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Flanders Foundation.This project has been kindly assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Keith Armstrong is supported by a part time senior research role at QUT Creative Industries.