Guten Tagby Phumlani Pikoli, images by Danielle Clough / 27.01.2011
Art exhibitions are associated with class and always have free wine to loosen people up. Still the opening DJ is playing a slow set that’s sonically invisible. But as the Word of Art gallery in Woodstock fills up, black folk start arriving, which pleases Remy Gold, who lets it be known that as a DJ he loves it when black people turn up at parties – at least there’ll be actual dancing. Gold’s hit and miss golden oldie set makes me wonder why he said that, but as soon as he gets into the dub step it makes sense. Black bodies dancing. But B-Team sabotage any pretense at class by dropping Lil Wayne, and there goes the neighborhood! People scream and whoop and holler and things begin to unravel. My cue to duck inside and check the art.
The German artists currently in residency at Word of Art haven’t held back a thing. They’ve even managed to filch the infamous Gympie Street sign somehow. These guys are nothing if not inventive. Urban magpies roving the city for suggestive visual scraps. One of those huge green poles used to advertise parties becomes a bottle rocket installation. Someone whispers to me that “no black person would have been able to pull that off”. I think she means the cops would have intervened. I hope that’s what she means. Or does she think we don’t have the imaginative brio, guts and organizational skills to ransack the city for art? Lets give her the benefit of the doubt. That free wine must be kicking in.
The exhibit is enormous to say the least with over sixty artists contributing. It’s wide-ranging and chaotic. I try to be discerning but I’m pretty much clueless about art. Tika’s work is amazing and my friends and I take some time out to sycophantically gush over it. We’re told the price and my jaw drops. Yep, I won’t be puzzling over where to hang his stuff in my flat anytime soon.
Durban’s Finest house duo, B-Team, redeem the Lil Wayne snafu and play a return set that sets our feet alight. Outside later, I find the best bit of expressiveness of the night, this scrawl on the wall: “Some laities told us that it’s better to drink and drive than to get taken for a poes while walking home.” Words to live by. Word of art. No matter how much it strains to gentrify with art hubs, antique nooks and that Mill – Woodstock is Woodstock after all.
*All images © Danielle Clough.