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Art, Culture

Postcards from the Hub

by Nathan Casey / 24.02.2011

Swaying mournfully in the wind, a lynched skeleton crafted from discarded milk bottles, spine of Bovril and condiment lids, groans through keyboard-letter teeth. The cawing seagulls above could just as easily be hungry vultures. A man wonders aloud if the plastic corpse has anything to do with the spider’s web across from it.

Nearby, James Clayton – a Slices of Life artist – builds a suit of plastic milk bottles; a “milk exoskeleton”, he calls it. Every so often he stops and fits it over his body; getting the fit just right. Soon the lonely skeleton will have a brother.

Infecting the City

In the centre of the Festival Hub artists carefully place empty beer, cooldrink and even balsamic vinegar bottles to form a sentence. Slowly the words grow from rubbish. A lady precariously climbs the wobbly red stairs made from Coke crates to get a bird’s-eye-view of the message. “die HERE sal voor sien”, she reads to her friend.

As the sun breaks through the dark clouds, the rain is driven away and replaced by Capetonians eager to get closer to the city’s heartbeat. Delta Soetstemme, a down-to-earth ladies’ choir from Franschoek, mellifluously chase away the last remaining stormclouds.

What could only be called Cape Town folk music is quirky and happily light-hearted. A woman dances with her laughing friend. German tourists video while schoolkids pretend they’re too cool to enjoy what everyone else is singing and clapping along to.

Infecting the City

Men and women with clipboards gauge the audiences enjoyment – “How did the performance make you feel in ONE word?”

A pretty English girl writes, “uplifted”, even though she couldn’t understand the Afrikaans.
What seems to be infecting the city is a sense of personal responsibility – even smokers are nipping the coals off their cigarettes and dropping the butts in the bin. The only litter on the forecourt has been sculpted and strategically placed.

Some things don’t change though; across from the KFC, men whistle and cheer as young ladies in skimpy swimsuits climb up a ladder and toss rubbish from the station rooftop, harassing the smart waiters bringing them wine. They march across the skyline to skilfully swing hula hoops around their hips.

Infecting the City

Bystander Keletso explains, “Long ago there used to be a swimming pool here. They’re asking, “Where’s the pool gone?’” Urban legend or forgotten fact?
Between events people sit in the shade of trees and read novels, awaiting the next surprise or performance. The guys from Mafutha Ink balance on a ladder, drilling the roof on the ‘Egg White’ shack; the parallel ‘Yolk’ shack is having its colourful mural hung.

In the afternoon people decide to take a later train and stop to hear the social commentary of Archie Sopazi’s spaza hip hop. On a stage constructed out of stuffed-to-capacity bin bags he tells the growing crowd, “This is not the hip hop from New York. It is the hip hop from Gugulethu.”
His raps humorously lament teenage pregnancies and those that squander the inheritance their parents worked so hard to leave behind. With the audience in the palm of his hand he tells them, “I don’t create, I talk about what I see.”

Laughing Capetonians leave eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s performances. On Thursday the Festival Hub stage will see Yiddish party band Playing with Fire, the melodious Car Guard Quartet, and the amaGwijo initiation songs of the Zamanani Brothers scrub away the drudgery of a normal workday.

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