Tuesday, December 28, 2010


These are some of the collages we made while facilitating the workshops.




The following stills are a selection of imagery generated from a series of workshops held twice a week throughout December at the Umzinyathi Education centre. Various youngsters and community members participated in the workshops, liberally cutting up and re-arranging over 400 images of Dundee (mostly sourced from the Talana Archives).

The first session of workshops involved imagining and building an alternate history of the town, while the second required participant’s to incorporate family photographs and personal pics into their collages.We encouraged participants to place themselves into an imagined past by creating fictional historical characters and settings.

Each participant was later asked to narrate their character’s story for the rest of the group. These narrations were recorded and we are hoping to use some of them in the final event at the end of January.

In the third and fourth sessions, collages were created around a collectively imagined future of the town and various stop- motion experiments were done.

Together we created a series of collage puppets and began to animate various scenes and scenarios. With the older group of kids we are currently creating an animated sequence for which they will later provide the score and lyrics.

In phase three of our project these collages and animations will be used in a variety of ways, as projections, inspiration for re-enactment costume designs etc. Collage characters will also be printed and posted around the town to create awareness around the project and events which will occur over the month of January.

First Session : Grade 8 learners

First Session : Students

Second Session : Grade 8 learners

Second Session : Students

Third and Fourth Session

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some folks from 'below the road' in Hermon.
Abie Louw born in 1919, survived the second world war....

Anna darries born in 1913 and still going strong.

Folks from 'above the road'.....
Roger who is starting up a friut packing businness..

Connie and Willem who have owned the Hermon hotel for 40 years

Hermon above the road...
Roger who is starting a fruit packing business.

Connie and Willem who have owned the Hermon Hotel for the last 40 years.

Some residents from the 'other side' of the road'.

Anna Darries, born in 1913 and still going strong at 97 years old.

Abie Louw born 1919, and is 91 years old. He was in the second world war and has 7 children.

It works - an experiment with pallettes to create a toppling effect - the domino effect. There will be about 300 of them, about 300m of noise and dust.

Welcome to Hermon

the domino effect

In simplified terms the domino project entails two main elements:

• the fanwalk, and

• the domino tournament.

November commenced with a meeting with our initial contact in Hermon regarding the tournament, Doons. He subsequently discussed the concept within the community.

This enabled us to have follow-up leads to respective people who will be able to perform some of the key tasks, such as preparation of the fanwalk (manpower, materials, siting, displays); selection of the site for the tournament (the community are influencing this), its format and organisation; youth co-ordination; making of large 3-D dominoes; entertainment; catering; etc

A local Councillor who lives in the village, Geoffrey Ford, stated that the project was welcomed, and gave tips regarding keeping the municipality up to speed. He also has an industrial saw that we may use in the making of the large display dominoes for the tournament.

We have sourced materials for the construction of the fanwalk, such as poles, cement, sand, etc, as well deciding on the best strata and support for the visual elements. These need to be sturdy, UV and rain resistant and to the best of our ability not a target for theft or vandalism. Treated wood is not pleasant to burn and vinyl for the images has no further purpose.

Similarly we have sourced a wood laminate that will be used in creating the 3-D dominoes. It is envisaged that the 'dots' for each piece will be burned into the strata using a metal disc heated in a kiln. The wood is very hard and durable, and once they have finished as a visual function of the tournament, it is planned to utilise them as part of a playground for children.

Along with the fanwalk this will create a legacy of the project for the community.

A Friday night was spent in the village for us to gather our thoughts in situ, as well as to garner information and feedback from the white community. The owner of the hotel, Connie, was particularly helpful with background information (historical and contemporary) and made some suggestions that should assist us.

We are also starting to gather and take further photographs for the displays, which we''ll compile at a later stage. Because of our different approaches we'll undertake this part of the project separately.

Saturday 27 Nov was a community workshop with the key players, to finalise their respective roles regarding 'responsibilities', timings, etc. The meeting was very positive, and the people (the team) present were committed and enthusiastic. Things we discussed (in no particular order):

- Finances. We mentioned the basic costs of materials and labour for the project.

- We spoke about the two main aspects of the domino effect, the fanwalk and the tournament itself (and elaborated on where we drew our inspiration from - the Football World Cup, naturally).

- We finalised the venue (sports field) and date 26 Feb 2011 (because of the impact of payday).

- The sports field is managed by a committee (Sports Forum), and the chairman is on our team. They require a letter of intent so they can plan access, lighting, etc.

- We discussed seating for the tournament participants. Initially the idea of plastic chairs and tables was mooted, but a suggestion that bluegum trunks emanating from the removal of these trees locally would be a better solution, because of their lessened physical impact on the pitch. Also this would have the aspect of recycling a discarded product.

- The 3-D dominoes for the event: they team were happy that the shutter ply we had sourced was appropriate, already cut to size. A solution for the rounded edges would be found within the community (either the saw offered by the local councillor, or that belonging to the tree fellers). We said that the apparent solution for making the 'dots' was a suggestion by local metal artist, Lisa Perold, to burn the imprints into the wood with a kiln heated metal disc, which could happen on her premises in Riebeek Kasteel. Some members of the Hermon community will be present to witness and assist.

- We spoke of the legacy of these large dominoes, as a playground for children on a vacant space within the village. The team appreciated that these would have a practical value after the event.

- It was decided that members of the team present would deal with digging of holes and erecting of the poles for the fanwalk. The initial date for this is Sat 4 Dec, from about 7am. Prior to this we will mark out the appropriate 20 spots for the displays.

- The original prices for the poles, cement, sand and stones (fanwalk) was obtained from Agrimark in Riebeek West. A suggestion was made that we approach the local branch of Kaap Agri (same organisation) for a more competitive cost. We met the the assistant manager on Monday afternoon (29th). They came to the party with good prices and offer of delivery, as well as access to water for the installation.

- A loose sequence for the day of the domino tournament evolved: the introduction by the master of ceremonies, followed by the entertainment (young dancers, steel band performance, guitar session by two residents, choir performance by The Golden Voices - all locals). After a break the young competitors (approx ages 6-10, then 11- 17/18) will partake. Finally the main adult competition. The initial stage will be the shortened, quick version of the game. Once down to the teams for the quarter finals and on, a short break will happen. Then the main event, with a slightly longer version of the game, to the final. Then presentation of prizes.

- It was seen as important that the games are controlled by referees (preferably neutral, not from the village) as there is a tendency for subtle 'cheating' by language and visual indications. These guys must also be able to control the timing.

- Prizes were decided as being shopping vouchers from Shoprite in Wellington, as this is where most of the community make their larger purchases and it would be the most appreciated. Token small cups would be appropriate as longer term memories. An added incentive was suggested in that the individual team with the most enthusiasm during the run-up could also be recognised

- Identification of the teams was seen as important. Caps were discussed, but considered too expensive. Colour co-ordination (as in t-shirts) was seen as a good solution. Even at Nirox this was mentioned; we must give this some thought.

- Publicity was seen as an important aspect, even now. A suggestion was that the first part must be an awareness 'campaign' for locals and especially farmworkers in the vicinity. This could be done via leaflets in post boxes (it will have the benefit of making the farmers aware of the tournament) and posters in local shops. Early in 2011 local print media will be informed (Paarl Post, Swartland Monitor) as well as Die Burger and Cape Times. The latter two might serve as interest only as we should be conscious of too many people attending. Michelle Constant does a fantastic job at promoting this sort of initiative on her programme on SAFM on Saturday mornings.

- The councillor representing Hermon is attending a meeting there at 19.15 on Thursday 2 Dec and we asked the sports chairman, Willie Marima, to request that we could chat to him first in order to give the established details of our project. Subsequent to this will be a formal presentation to Drakenstein Municipality based on the councillor's comments.

- The team was made aware of their 'larger' involvement, as in the other recipients of grants from VANSA for projects nationwide. We believe that one of the fanwalk posters should deal with this so the community can relate that this is a part of a project on a national level.

- Catering for the final. One of the team, local shopowner, Rodney, said some of the locals would probably be prepared to do stalls. He could co-ordinate just outside the sports field, then these people will also benefit. Because of his outlet he has dealings with the Coke representative. Whilst we are both not totally comfortable with this product we must appreciate the level of awareness of this brand within the community and I'm sure Coke would appreciate the opportunity for the exposure. And we could certainly benefit from their publicity and aspects like umbrellas.

Chris and Tracey

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strangeness in our Ordinariness

So we cracked our first appearance in the Dundee Courier (the weekly newspaper) a few weeks back. The headline accompanying the article read “Strangeness in our Ordinariness.”

Strange indeed, the sight of two blond guys traipsing around town, technology and tripod in tow, documenting oddities such as parking- metres, post-boxes and the vacant municipal swimming pool.

Our co-collaborator and translator Bonginkosi Ngobese has been involved in the project from the first week and has helped us to identify interested parties and community groups from the area. Bongi is a brilliant energy to have on board. He is a committed and compassionate young guy who runs a series of life-skill courses out on a Dundee farm to empower kids from underprivileged communities.

After much scouting we have settled on a neglected municipal swimming pool (founded in 1923) as one of our potential sites for play. The empty pool and overgrown spectator stands make for an exciting performance space.

While the holiday break has made securing participants for our workshops a little tricky, we accepted invites to speak at school assemblies. The Sibongile community radio station and local paper The Courier have also helped us to spread the word.

We are grateful to have secured the support andfacilities of the Umzinyathi Education Centre, run by Kevin Burge. Kevin has agreed to let us use two classrooms to conduct our workshops from. This centre is an ideal facility in that it’s within a walking distance of both Sibongile and Peacevale.

Our workshops we will take place over the next month on Mondays and Wednesdays (the morning will be used for younger kids and the afternoon for teenagers and adults). Collage and stop-motion animation exercises will be our focus for the first few weeks. These sessions will require participants to cut-up and construct an imagined history of the region using images and iconography (both past and present) from the museum archives. We are encouraging participants to bring along personal and family photographs to include in the second stage of their collages.

History, despite its ubiquity in this region, is often viewed by younger generations as an irrelevant and obscure thing. The realm of heroes and martyrs, dead white blokes with palm tree moustaches. We hope that through these collage exercises, participants will begin to re-imagine themselves into the town’s past. From these collages we hope to generate publicity materials for our eventas well as narratives/concepts/ ideas that may feed into the performance workshops.

Our research process has lead us to all sorts of landmarks and living rooms. We have walked Dundee’s streets in the company of fundis and locals. Slouched across bar tops listening to century long anecdotes, huddled on historic mountain tops to watch the town map itself in light.
We have visited community radio stations, farms belonging to Voortekker descendents, traipsed derelict mines and coal cleaning plants; structures that resemble opera sets Mussolini might have designed on a fascist whim.

We have spent a week neck deep in the Talana Museums archives, sifting through town records, maps, diaries, newspaper clippings, scrap books and photograph albums. Under the guidance of curator Pam Macfadden and archivist Norman Leverage at the Talana museum we have followed the whims of our curiosities and stumbled upon a series of unusual finds. Both Norman and Pam, are hugely supportive of the project and whilst working at the archives we have been assisting them to digitally scan images while boosting their records with any additional imagery we collect over our stay here.

We are also working with the Talana on the Oral History component of our project. After obtaining some guidance from Catherine Kennedy from SAHA (South African Association for Historic Archives) we have spent the past month filming a cross- section of Dundonians, some of whom include Vincent Mselku, a story-teller with vivid memories of his childhood in the 20’s as a cattle herder, Fanie Kleinhaus the local post-office car guard, Dick Lemur a retired traffic officer (and fabled eulogist) and Mr Soni, a Jeweller whose great grandfather is claimed to have hosted Ghandi for a night when he passed through Dundee in 1913.

Our interview process involves standard questions around origin, ancestry and anecdote while including more unorthodox enquiries around things such as the subject’s most recent dream.
The intention is to record and document the town and its people with the knowledge that today’s stories soon become tomorrow’s history. We are spending our evenings editing a film which we hope to screen at the old Boswell’s Theatre and Bioscope (currently a church) which still boasts its Vaudeville interior and proscenium arch.

December the 16th looms and we are heading out to Battle of Blood River (Reconciliation day) re-enactments/celebrations which, we have been told, is a historic spectacle to behold.