Art and Design

Durban's creative community to get a boost

Candice Botha

An arts initiative aims to showcase Durban talent and build a community for KwaZulu-Natal artists at home.

013 Floor Assassins will be performing at the event. (Paulo Menezes)

Durban produces some of the best artistic talent in the country, but often, to make it as an artist in any field, from fine art to music, dance and literature, artists have to leave the city and forge their paths elsewhere. 

A group of young artists, led by Karla Nixon and Francesca Verga, have decided to try and change this perception by creating “What if this City” – an initiative designed to showcase Durban’s wealth of creative talent, including artists, illustrators, fashion designers, filmmakers, dancers, tattooists, performers and musicians. “What if this City” launches on May 9 with a free multidisciplinary event.


(Sakhile Mhlongo will be performing at the event)

Nixon and Verga said, “The notion that there is nothing happening in the Durban arts scene and that, if there are events in Durban, they are often limited to a particular audience was a major incentive behind the conception of the project. It is hoped that through an event like this we are able to rebuild a support system for artists and develop a sense of critical engagement with an existing audience.”

Julia Wilson of the Flatfoot Dance Company, who will have members of the training company performing on the night, says that the opportunity that artists will have to connect and network will also be very valuable. “Art is becoming more and more collaborative and by working together on multimedia artworks, artists have an opportunity to create excitement around art on a broader scale and make Durban’s artistic community more visible.”

“‘What if this City’ offers the opportunity to view the processes of work being created on the night ... while listening to great Durban musos and watching incredible dance performances, short film screenings and fashion exhibits.”

Creating an artistic community
The event is not intended as a one-off. “‘What if this City’ aims to build momentum and motivation to achieving a form of artistic community within this city. We hope after the initial event to host ongoing big events at least two to three times a year. We also intend to hold inspiring talks and movie screenings twice a month allowing people to come together and engage on a regular basis,’’ said Verga and Nixon. 

They have recruited a group of participants with diverse artistic talents and audiences can look forward to performances by Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson who will perform a work choreographed by Julia Wilson and Sifiso Majola of the Flatfoot Dance Company, Sebastien Goldswain, the 031 Floor Assasains, Nje, and many more who will be collaborating on works created especially for “What if this City”. Visual artists will also be well-represented by Sakhile Mhlongo, Mook Lion, Kev Seven, Skye Steen and Nivesh working live using mediums such as oils and spray paint. 

Samantha-Lee Bunnyfluff will tattoo live, Dane Stops and Paulo Menezes will exhibit photographic works and Drucilla’s Wardrobe will bring an element of fashion. 

“‘What if this City’ will be a chance to interact with and discover some of Durban’s amazing creative talent,” said Nixon and Verga. “The event will be an unforgettable experience showcasing a number of collaborations, that otherwise may not have happened.”

“What if this City” will take place on Friday May 9 at the DUT Art Gallery and surrounding spaces on the Steve Biko Campus. Entrance is free and a cash bar run by the Winston Pub and coffee from Dieketseng the Barista will be available. Food will be on sale from 10pm. For more information email [email protected] or call Francesca from DUT Art Gallery on (031) 3732207.   https://www.facebook.com/whatifthiscity

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