Having studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London and interned at world-renowned design brands Alexander McQueen, Liberty and Anthropologie, textile print designer and artist Nicole Levenberg recently enjoyed another accomplishment with the opening of her first solo show at the Nirox projects space in Johannesburg. Samples I – VIII explores colour and form with local flora studies adding 2D texture. The entire space has been styled rather than the works curated, which Levenberg says reflects the blurring of the divides between art and design that she aspires to in her work. Trained in fine art and design, Levenberg deliberately works in the space between the two, finding it unnecessary and increasingly irrelevant to label or define each creative outcome. For the presentation of this collection, Nicole recruited House and Garden decor stylist Dean van Aswegen to help with the placement of her works in relation to pieces of furniture, in much the same way as he would style a shoot for a magazine. This breaking of the rules highlighted the irrelevance of the art/design distinction.
Looking to the past and to the future simultaneously, director Porteus Xandau has imagined a futuristic Anglo-Boer-Zulu war as the setting for this film piece. A sci-fi interpretation of historical events, ABZ-2079 is a portrait study of the Anglo-Boer-Zulu War (circa 2079 – 2084) explored through dance. Described stylewise as “post-apocalypse meets pop-africana”, the short features dancers Mia Erasmus, Sonwabo Vayi and B-Boy Bax wearing incredible costumes representing the Boer, Zulu and British sides respectively. The scenes were shot at three different locations around the Western Cape – from Wellington to the docks in Cape Town.
Looking at the boundary-pushing work of some of its young photographers, stylists, make-up artists and fashion designers, Johannesburg’s reputation as a creative and cultural hub makes sense. In a recent example of this, three young talents – photographer Chris Saunders, hair and make-up artist Amy Anstey and stylist/fashion designer Francois Ferreira – have collaborated on a fashion editorial for GQ Online. Says Saunders, “We took the basic idea of classic African iconography and fashion imagery and re-imagined it.” The resulting editorial, L’afrique C’est Chic, is a vision of contemporary African style.
By stretching what could have been a 14-hour drive over a few days, Shaun Stander found a way to complete a series of photographs in half the time he had originally intended. The series, Brown River, is a collection of severed objects and fragments of the journey from Mississippi to Oklahoma. The scenes are not fully shown – part of a man wearing a metallic brown suit or a leopard print cloth draped over a car – ask us to look deeper, to figure out what filled the gaps between the moments captured. Travelling through four states, Stander checked into motels along the way to capture scenes of countless strip malls spat out along cement highways. He says, “Looking at Brown River now, I think quietness, imperfection and the hidden were all big themes running throughout the project. Urban centres that have had rapid development and growth and then decay inevitably end up with these ghostly pockets of silence that I wanted to explore.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation in collaboration with Google South Africa recently called on video content creators to produce inspiring marketing content for YouTube celebrating Madiba’s legacy, for a competition called YouTube Film Hack. The brief challenged video creators to inspire young South Africans under 30 to live the Nelson Mandela legacy every day. The winning entry was by digital agency Quirk, who produced a Lego-themed video depicting Nelson Mandela’s long struggle for freedom. Fran Luckin, Quirk Johannesburg’s executive creative director, explained their approach: “Keeping the South African struggle story relevant was the aim behind Google’s challenge. The fear is that this chapter in our country’s history is reduced to historical text and in time forgotten. Quirk’s response was to tell the Madiba story in a medium that appeals to the born-free generation and on a platform they can relate to, a video of Lego characters shared on YouTube. Quirk took the challenge one step further by including a call for names to be added to a petition to request Lego to produce a Madiba freedom fighter set. The Madiba story is one of courage, forgiveness and love – lessons that are relevant to all South Africans, of all ages. We believe a Lego set could be a tool to help parents introduce their young children to Mandela and the story of freedom in South Africa.”
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