It’s All Loveby Samora Chapman / 11.09.2013
Time tick-tocks and another year rolls by, as winter blows goodbye kisses, springtime brings Interpret Durban Four… Saturday night fever, August 31.
In case you’re out of the loop – Interpret Durban is Poison City’s premier art/photography/video competition. It’s a month of hype and fevered creative episodes from the Durban kids, culminating in an exhibition, award ceremony, gig and ‘so called’ party of the year.
I’d been digging through a coalmine of corporate work for months. My soul covered in filthy silt. Jaded, going nowhere, again it never stops.
Then up pops the Interpret Durban poster with promises of bounty like never before. Cash money, equipment and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The prospect jilted me out of my white-collar haze. I finally have an excuse to hit those filthy hot streets again… in search of the essence of Durban; what makes it dope, what makes it tick and what makes it the delicious monster it is.
The theme this year is Concrete Circus, with a focus on Durban architecture. The venue is the murky old Loch Ness monster of a City Hall… a symbol of power, usurped by the hungry, reckless youth for one night only. Bring it on like bazooka tooth baby!
I lay awake for nights plotting a video entry, keen to break away from my usual crafts. Eventually it came to me in a midnight vision and I acted on the celestial guidance.
I woke one morning, painted my face like a clown and made a pilgrimage from the quaint ‘burbs of G–Wood, through the killer inner city and into the warm Indian Ocean. 6 000 photos later and two days of editing, and I had a one minute ‘walklapse’ journey through my hometown. I felt a vague sense of absolution.
On the big night a complication arose. I had no baby sitter. So me and my little man Eli Moon got dressed up and hit the town together, like Batman and Robin on a mission.
Our night began with a little dose of ultra violence. Every circus has its ugly side.
As we walked through the purple streets of the CBD a gangster grabbed a lady’s bum at the bus station, then smacked her boyfriend to the ground for complaining. I pressed on toward the bright lights of the City Hall like a sad clown with my boy on my shoulders… wondering about the scary, wild place we live.
Back to reality and the Durbanites came out the woodwork and swarmed the City Hall like termites, moonwalked the red carpet and posed for pictures like twinkly stars. I joined the hordes and headed to the photography exhibition, which was sloppily hung but scattered with a couple gems… although a slight lack of creativity must be noted. I think I counted five snaps of the Moses Mabhida Stadium… Seriously?
Luca Barausse’s ‘Fallen Enterprise’ took 2nd place. This was my favourite image at the show, for its subtle colour, clean lines and great details. Andy Griffin took the crown with a great shot of an old industrial-style building and Russel Grant came in 3rd with an intriguing glimpse of a jungly gate.
The Amateur Photography and Phone photography comps were very weak and the situation worsened as I strolled over to the pile of boxes that comprised the Open Art competition… a dismal site to behold.
The whoonga heads make better art along the track sides in town, using nothing but charcoal and spray paint. Seriously. [Watch this space – Ed]
Luckily a couple big shot arteests provided some redemption via the DC skateboard contest with Dok, Mook Lion, Skullboy, Wesley Van Eeden and Spoek pulling out killer styles. The skate boards were painted live and auctioned off at a pretty price with half going to the artists and half to the Briardene Youth Centre.
Mook Lion took 1st place with an elephant etching, Skullboy took 2nd with a sick totem pole of dark apparitions and Wes took 3rd with a colourful dreamscape piece a-la Joan Miro.
Newcomer Skye Steen took the T-shirt design contest with a cool, twisted mish-mash of Durban imagery. She’s definitely a talent to look out for… so keep ya eyes peeled Azania!
Agrippa Mhluphe’s piece in 2nd place was also pretty dope. But overall the T-shirt designs were fairly generic and unimaginative in terms of subject matter, concept and style.
Upstairs the videos were running on loop, mixed in with a zillion horrible camera phone snaps. I lounged with beer and baby taking in the multimedia experience. A clean, professional video called ‘Portrait of a Performer’ by Richard Gorven was deserved winner of the video section. He used a strong human character as a vehicle to tell the story of a building – the Stable Theatre in town. So he nailed the architectural theme nicely, although no reference to Concrete Circus was made.
On the musical front my journalistic endeavours were slightly hindered by my sidekick, who clung to me like a bear cub in a circus ring. I did catch The Accidentals, who gave a solid performance despite the average sound. The band has grown from a little folk group to an all out powerful classic alternative rock outfit with Hez the Eccentric on violin and Dion the Stargazer on sax giving the band a melodious, orchestral touch. Matt on vocals is already a sage in the scene (ex Sibling Rivalry) and his honest, husky style has, for a long time, articulated the feelings of the Durban kids. With Matt is really taking form as an artist and has written a classic track called The Aftermath, which I reckon will go down as one of the great songs to come out of this generation.
The esteemed Russell Grant reported on the rest of the show: “The live acts were disappointing, not so much because of the acts themselves, but more because the sound and setup for the live acts was pretty terrible. The electronic acts sounded better, which is no surprise as I don’t think a great deal goes into making a CD Jay sound good! Felix Laband’s pastiche-porn set was satisfyingly weird. I like seeing people’s moral sensibilities challenged, especially in public. Crazy White Boy were a fairly standard late night House fare. People really dug them, though, and they got an encore which they graciously indulged.”
I had to escape the mad house before things got messy (and fun) as the crowd got loose under the watchful eyes of the ancestors… their sleeping spirits woken from slumber by a thousand youth jumping around the historic neo-Baroque building.
I have to say that as a whole the ID4 entries lacked any fresh take on Durban, our beloved tropical city, and most of the crowd were attending the BIG PARTY as opposed to participating in the artistic/cultural exchange… which is what makes ID different to other events.
But there will be another Interpret Durban… and another chance for a new wave of hungry artists to explore this city and push the scene. It’s all love.
*Images © Luca Barausse and the one of Samora and Eli © Tyrone Bradley.