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by Leila Bloch / 11.06.2011

Long before the onslaught of Fokofpoliskaar and Jack Parow, Porselynkas was a poetic and altogether more theatrical equivalent to the Voelvry movement (otherwise known as “Boere Woodstock” – a counter culture music festival cum tour party). The participants, living according to the I’m-poor-but-passionate ideology, were effectively redefining Afrikanerdom in Stellenbosch. They valued radical individualism and manifestos, and attached themselves to terms like “punk”. Irreverent and apolitical, they were well hated by the church and banned from radio stations, theatres and the town in general. But did they say anything specific through their art? It’s an irrelevant question – they were using the “I’m dada therefore I am” solution. Give too much meaning to their stripping and spacesuits and you’ll begin to sound indulgently pseudo. Yes, they were involved in obscure “happenings” and angered some people at the top, but it’s unclear why they sought to create a movement that didn’t say much about anything and it certainly doesn’t offer any contemporary insight now.

The most well documented non-event in the history of Porselynkas is a 52 minute documentary in memory of this movement. Shot in less than a week with virtually no budget, it will be appearing at the Encounters and Grahamstown film festivals. Co-director Matthew Kalil and actor/clown/poet Sjaka, otherwise known as Dr Adam Chaos or Jan Afghanistan, is determined to capture this past. The characters get stranger as he interviews representations of lost members of the clan. The documentary is funny… in a slapstick, pie-throwing kind of way. But the rebellion against Afrikaanerdom means those who don’t speak the language are excluded from some of the jokes.

There’s a monkey in the porcelain cabinet – Porselynkas, the name speaks for itself: white, breakable, precious. Precious enough that the movement needs to be documented, preserved. “Run by a kind of dyslexic control freak”, cited as an “excuse to get girls naked”, this is a shamelessly personal revival. According to the creators, as soon as something gets assimilated into the mainstream, it’s lost. Was this documentary just a clown/poet’s narcissistic trip, an effort to recreate some cool bygone Stellies days, or rather a “minefield of being authentic”, a method to remember and create ego-less art and poetry? Maybe if it offered a little more than, “hey, watch this, it’s cool because it was once art” the audience have been a little more than merely bemused

*Porselynnkas will be screening on Sunday the 12th and Friday the 24th of June at the V&A NuMetro in Cape Town and in Jozi at The Bioscope on Tuesday the 14th of June.

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