In on Wednesday 9 March 2016 the MoVE Project of the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) had an exhibition which featured three arts based projects, and launched an new publication. The projects that were being featured were conducted in 2014 and 2015. Jo Vearey and Elsa Oliveira brought me in to curate and produce this exhibition. It was time to have a public showcasing of some of the art that emerged through MoVE projects. On the evening of the opening, participants from the projects, facilitators, researchers, people in advocacy, and people interested members of society all converged on the Workers Museum. Even though there was a large storm in Johannesburg on the night of the exhibition opening, the exhibition was increadibly well attended.
As always in arts-based projects, there is alot of content to work through, and a lot of possible areas to focus on when featuring projects. These projects really are rich in their content and communicative potential, and provide very stimulating design challenges. The exhibition was envisaged around the idea of showcasing original artwork alongside their various output forms for distribution: publication, newsletters, and zines. We wanted to draw people into the stories shared by the various participants thereby increasing awareness of social issues people in South Africa face on a daily basis. We hoped that sharing these stories would also increase awareness of and interest in arts-based research, in partnership the work done my MoVE projects in partnership with advocacy organisations. This exhibition was a celebration of the processes and artefacts of creative expression that emerge through these MoVE projects.
Queer Crossings was a two year long visual and narrative project run in a partnership between the ACMS, Gala, Seattle University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Centre’s School for Public Health. The project was facilitated by Susan V. Meyers and Elsa Oliveira, and with LeConté Dill in a later phase. The project took place in Gauteng. Participants in the project produced bodymaps and poetry. The bodymaps are large, because they are 1:1 tracings of actual bodies on brown card. The bodymaps are created through a facilitated process where ideas and symbols and colours and narratives are combined to create impressive images that speak to participants’ identities, hopes and histories. The bodymapping process lead into a poetry process. We exhibited the original bodymaps on the wall, and next to the bodymaps, their accompanying poems typed and printed. In the same room as the bodymaps and poems we had a publication which documenting the project. This publication had a range of reflections from facilitators, participants, stakeholders and academics. This publication was launched at the exhibition.
Izwi Lethu: Our Voices project, conducted through workshops in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and in the Limpopo province, was a writing and publishing project facilitated and driven by Greta Schuller. The stories created by participants were compiled into a newsletter that carried Sisonke’s branding. This newsletter was distributed online, and in person. The Sex Worker Zine Project was visual-narrative project facilitated by Elsa Oliveira and Quinten Williams. This project took place in Mpumalanga and in the Limpopo province. We led participants through a process that resulted in the creation of zines that told stories about aspects of their lives. The artwork pages of the zines were digitised with minimal editing, and printed out as zines using digital printing processes.