The Cultural Voice of Resistance
In December of 1982, Dutch and South African artists against Apartheid gathered in Amsterdam for the festival: "de Kulturele Stem van Verzet" (a follow-up to "Culture and Resistance" in Gaborone, Botswana of the same year).
MEDU Art Ensemble featured prominently in the programming and were in attendance at the various workshops: theater, film, silkscreen, art theory, music and poetry - it's safe to say, there was something on offer for all art enthusiasts.
A curious discovery I made while examining an overview of the workshops shows that Thami was present for the various tours of the Rietveld Academy, but failed to show up on the 15th of December at the Center for Chilean Culture to discuss mural art; as it was duly noted: "Thammy was in the hospital".
Perhaps he had to visit someone? I have contacted Lefifi Tladi
, a South African poet and artist, to get to the bottom of this dire matter! Consequently, I am also waiting to view a series of video tapes of the festival which should be available at the IISH, although it still unclear when that will be... regardless, I'm very much looking forward it!
One letter of correspondence from the MEDU Art Ensemble is simply addressed: "Dear friend" and continues, "Despite the fact that you took so much trouble for us in November, I still take it upon me to thank you very much in July!! I am indeed a very lazy writer of letters and nobody should have left this task to an illiterate like me. Thanks yet again."
The letter is dated 21/7/83, unsigned. However the MEDU letter paper is adorned with a pen nib in flames...
How to conceal a message
One folder contains a few examples of tiny-sized booklets (or is that my giant hand?). These publications were designed to teach citizens how to conduct a revolution, the content cleverly hidden behind a fake cover. More examples include: a handbook for the glove compartment of any car and a very innocent-looking booklet of modern folk ballads! The font size is probably smaller than 6pt - good luck reading the small print!
Staffrider magazine & de anti-apartheidkrant
The archive is also home to these two publications which have helped me give context to the coming up of Black artists and musicians in South Africa and the news surrounding the Anti-Apartheid movement in the Netherlands during the mid 80's - 90's.
I was able to make scans and have included some images from Staffrider in my previous post. More snippets of these publications will be revealed in the future, but I'd just like to add that I was very humbled by the fact that Bart Luirink
(co-editor of ZAM magazine) appears in print several times. It reminded me that he has been very helpful in my process of tracing the MEDU Art Ensemble and, in general, helping me get back in touch with the South African art scene. I thank you!
More highlights from IISH
coming in the next few weeks... (to be continued)!