AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Image credit: Sally Berg

Away from Tankwa Town, the AfrikaBurn community is constantly busy making contributions to a better world. Some of the examples of how the spirit of AfrikaBurn lives on year-round are:

DAC-Funded Art Projects:

Since AfrikaBurn began in 2007, it’s been the intention to reach out beyond the event and uplift local communities – and whilst excellent work has been done by our Development teams in achieving this since 2007, the need to grow this area of operation further has always been a priority.

After three years in process, it was a great boon in 2015 to be able to take up funding from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) under the department’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy. With this funding we were able to accelerate this aspect of AfrikaBurn significantly.

We’re now developing the activities of our creative community beyond the annual event, utilising the massive spread of skills and resources that are available through the AfrikaBurn network and community into all-year round operational projects.

As the event has grown, surplus funds are allocated directly back into the artistic community through our annual creative grants. The aim of this project is to make the event more accessible to vulnerable individuals and groups, by enabling their participation in public art projects. These enliven and grow collaboration as well as skills development through art projects which will appear at the AfrikaBurn event but also appear in an urban area, thus increasing access and experience in the creative economy while up skilling the participants during the construction of the artworks.

Projects to Date:

Funding from the DAC was received in mid March for five key public art projects executed at the tenth annual event ‘AfrikaBurn X’ at the end of April. The public art projects chosen for Department of Arts and Culture support included the two anchor sculptures – Clan X and Temple of |Xam, a third large burning sculpture Project O, an interactive mask and puppetry ensemble performance work Lost Couple Find God and a interdisciplinary Intercultural Story eXchange.

The projects were instigated in different locations nationwide – Lost Couple Find God in Johannesburg, Gauteng; Clan X designed in Cape Town and prepared in the peri urban south peninsula of Cape Town; Temple of |Xam, Lidgetton, near Howick, rural Kwa Zulu Natal, Project O in Sutherland, Northern Cape; Intercultural Story eXchange in Elandsvlei, Northern Cape with participation on site by Khoikhoi and San elders from Kalahari, Northern Cape, Beaufort West and George, Western Cape. This report covers the period 2 May – 30 June, during this period, two sculptures had their burn sites cleaned and returned to previous condition; one sculpture remained as a feature on the Tankwa landscape; one exchange project scattered across the Northern and Western Cape – with plans forthcoming for next year and the other performance ensemble packed up their larger than life gods, brimming with ideas to take their production forward.

For the full report on all 2016 DAC-funded projects, see the project summary DAC-Report-2016.

At our 2015 event, no less than 4 major projects got off the ground and saw members of the Tankwa community from Elandsvlei and Brakfontein, and from Sutherland – as well as artists and performers from Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Hanover Park – stand proudly amongst all other participants at AfrikaBurn as artists. In addition, the temple for 2015, ‘Metamorphosis’ included a significant amount of community building and skills transfer, in the Gauteng region. Projects of this nature are an aspect of AfrikaBurn that will continue to grow.

For information on these projects, please see the reports below. The interim and full reports with additional info are linked further down this page.

The Mantis Project (Elandsvlei & Brakfontein)

Bringing together artists whose work has featured at AfrikaBurn over the years, members of our Development & Outreach team, Kaospilots from Sweden, Iceland and Denmark, and community members from the Tankwa Karoo, the Mantis Project was initiated in 2011, and came to fruition in 2015. The project involved the transfer of craft skills, and teamwork across generations for all involved. At the centre of it was the creation of an artwork representing //Kaggen, the iconic deity that features in the mythology of South Africa’s First Nation people, from whom many members of the Tankwa community are descended.

Read the report on how the Mantis Project was rolled out here.

Flamin’ Amazing Show (Masiphumelele, Ocean View & Hanover Park)

Photo: Unknown

Three community-based arts collectives collaborated to create the intercultural performance art piece Flamin’ Amazing Show. The work fused large puppets designed, made and manipulated under the guidance of Justin Stuart, by the Mapiko (recycled arts) crew in Masiphumelele, and a samba ghoema soundtrack by Bloka carnival ensemble from Ocean View, led by Leo Letsape. An archetypal story of good versus evil unfolded in an abstract world, through fire and circus performance by ActionArte’s youth team from Hanover Park, trained by Hanne La Cour and Marlin Roos; with narration by Riaan Smit. The process provided skills development and job opportunities for marginalised and emerging artists, living on the fringes of Cape Town.

Read the Flamin’ Amazing Show report here.

Clan Build (Sutherland)

Photo: Unknown

The central effigy at our event, the Clan, is interpreted and built each year by a different artist and crew. In 2015, the structure was built in Sutherland in the Northern Cape by artist Nathan Victor Honey and a crew comprised of volunteers and Sutherland community members. Central to the build was a component of social development and skills transfer which has created employment for the project’s duration, as well as a significant amount of tools donated which will go on to enable crew members to generate income.

Read the Clan report here.

Metamorphosis (Gauteng)

Photo: Jacki Bruniquel

Metamorphosis, the temple structure for our 2015 event, was built out over 3 months in Gauteng, and reassembled on site. It consisted of eight butterfly wings standing at eight meters high, spanning 20 meters in diameter, and was burned on the Saturday night of the event.

The Metamorphosis team set out with the intention that this be much more than just an art project. The idea was that the project live beyond the Burn, inspiring change within individuals and in people’s home communities. Part of this involved working with four artists from the Thusong Youth Centre in Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Mobadimo Mothapa, Mpumi Magqazana, Tebogo Mohlomi & Tsholo Kgwanyape were invited to train with the team’s experienced builders and learnt to use new carpentry tools. When they showed dedication and interest in the project, they were invited to see it through to completion which involved them coming to the Burn – for some of them it was their first time outside of Jo’burg!

After the Burn the team turned their attention to raising funds for and renovating the Home of Hope in Berea. The organisation gave a total makeover to two flats in a rundown building, which are home to 32 women, aged 17 to 24, all of who were rescued from abuse, poverty and sexual exploitation. The renovations were extensive and included painting both places, re-doing the kitchen, installing a new oven, fixing electrics, tiles and doors, providing new furniture, new bedding, curtains and decorating the place to make it a really beautiful home for those who live there. Mam Khanyi who runs the organisation said the team’s work had ‘helped restore the dignity’ of all the women there.

For the Metamorphosis report, click here.

The reports below feature additional information about the DAC-funded projects:

Read the interim report here.
Read the final report here.
Read the summary report here.

Many thanks to all involved in bringing these projects to fruition!