ART STATE Editor Ace Moloi dreams about his desired state of Mangaung art.
It’s a new year, same us. We are still artists. We still pledge allegiance to alliterations and similes, bars and flows, links and hot clocks. This path is amazing. Fulfilling, in fact. But there are down moments. There are unproductive times. There are times when we have to pull out the gun and face the intruders.
Your work won’t speak for itself
There’s a fallacy in the streets that has become most artists’ mantra. It goes “but my work will speak for itself. ” Listen! The creation of your hands needs the profession of your mouth for it to be known. You are the one with the gift of speech. So, speak your art.
If there’s any New Year’s Resolution I want to impose upon artists, it is the decision to speak more about their art. Without fear. Without conceit. With faith. With confidence.
Large organisations spend millions in marketing, PR and advertising, despite their brands being widely known. They appoint digital agencies that manage their online footprint and pay community managers for their social media pages.
They don’t think, “our milk will speak for itself. ” They understand that awareness is intentionally generated. So, if famous brands never stop tweeting, why do we then think our paintings, songs, books and poems will magically speak for themselves without our advocacy?
No beef in Bloem
Here in my city we should suspend beefing until we have organised ourselves into a formidable force that can square up against the rest of the country. We don’t have the luxury to hate each other. We must calm our passion for competition and strive towards collaborative partnerships that will build this city.
Goodness, there’s no market here. We have same faces in every show at PACOFS. The reading community is as thin as a thread, and like the theatre audience, it too is mostly fixed.
The club scene appears glamorous when you study the numbers, but very few of the people on the dancefloor care that the deejay on set has a new song on iTunes.
If we agree that in our own separate spaces the market is small, why split it further with backward clashes and popularity-mongering?
Imagine a hip-hop producer attending a poetry show to scout a poet to work with. It’s possible, the masses willing.
A few weeks ago I was with a varsity friend of mine who is one of the explosive deejays in the city. In addition to many topics up for discussion, I proposed a feature with him and his co-deejay, which will be a remix of the Sesotho erotica piece I performed at Poetic Blues last year.
Though this is still a rough idea, the main point is that this is what I envisage happening throughout the city. Art is not conflicting, it is coinciding. I as a writer can approach a rapper and create something from my own writings.
We need to tap into each other’s contacts.
Seriousness is contagious
A known poet once engaged me on various issues relating to the industry, and as we spoke I asked him about his personal wellbeing. He replied that at the moment his poetry is the only way he is surviving, wh ich technically meant he is suffering. But something was bothering me about him, and so I charged, “ But if you say art is your only livelihood, why do you arrive so late at your poetry show? Why don’t you respect the audience? ”
I want us to challenge ea ch other when it comes to how we look and how we do things. When the city sees an artist, they must look dignified. Stylish, for sure. Trendy, yes. Fashionable, no doubt. But clean, punctual, articulate and reliable. Nako ya ho phanda kgale e fedile.
Peopl e follow what impresses them as legit, and how best can one be legit if not by taking themselves and their art very, very, very seriously?
Read – a – thon
Art puts us on platforms, and anybody who holds a microphone with the same hands that have never opened a book is a ticking time bomb. We can’t always tweet ignorance. We won’t bite our tongue in radio interviews any longer. Irrespective of your form of art, make it a mission to read and understand social dynamics.
This will even enhance your art, as the content you consume will inspire your creativity. But beyond that, it saves you from saying foolish things during radio interviews, etc.
Let’s try these few resolutions and see how far they take us.
Welcome to the first edition of ART STATE. A positive read ahead.