The Xcollektiv was formed in 2012 by a group of visual artists, writers, film makers, musicians and performers who are exploring issues of dispossession, trauma, memory and co-resistance through their work. The potential of the collaborative creative strength coupled with the power of anonymity justified the risk of embarking on a creative and artistic war against the enemy: the proverbial State, in all or any of its forms. And in an urban environment that is increasingly policed and placed under surveillance; and where the poor are criminalized and poverty is demonized; the function of art as a statement and act of resistance is arguably more necessary than ever before.
The Xcollektiv thus promotes the joint ownership of the participatory creative expression and our processes are exploratory, (R)-evolutionary, multi-and-inter-disciplinary; and are informed by a fomenting creative multilogue that effectively challenges the skewed official narrative perpetuated by business and state interests.
We produce work that is easy to replicate and disseminate while engaging with particular sets of issues over a sustained period. Our aim is to facilitate and initiate projects that pose questions and draw attention to issues; and to connect with ordinary lives through public creative processes and to weave an ‘in-cooperative’ expression that engages and infiltrates different media spaces: to reach neglected audiences, and build community and agency around issues of individual and collective importance.
As a dissident collective, invitations to exhibit in formal, institutionalized spaces have resulted in much introspective debate which was ultimately guided by our founding statement that specifically speaks of infiltrating different media spaces. The otherwise bourgeois commodification of art as artefact is for instance directly challenged by selling the ‘NON-POOR ONLY’ stickers for a price of R19.13, directly referencing the 1913 land act which legitimized the theft of South African land by the European colonizers. This reference also serves to link the current neo-liberal dispossession and socio-economic prejudices, to the historical injustices that continue to define South African society. As such we are more concerned with the potential social impact of our work as opposed to how formal arts institutions may or may not engage with these issues because in essence the broader creative industry has allowed itself to be used by government and corporations to legitimize the imposed narratives.
In this series of constructed images a shelter is inserted into various locales across the City – from the highways and railways lines that act as boundaries of exclusion or inclusion, to shack settlements, historical sites, affluent areas and the globally recognized marketing facades.
The juxtaposing of these images with text highlights discrepancies within the City, seeks to challenge dominant misrepresentations of the city and to foreground the spatial nature of its social divisions.
Through the shelters’ fictitious reinsertion into recognizable cityscapes – with seemingly disconnected captions that draw upon present day as well as historical texts referencing forced removals, land dispossession and other dislocations – this series of images seeks to draw attention to expulsions from lands and homes, spatial erasure and social amnesia. By re-placing the most humble of shelters back into spaces it once legitimately occupied, the image-texts recall the presence of those deleted by the historical record.
Space Invader! will thus be insinuated into these privileged domains in an attempt to transpose and subvert these sterile representations of the city and to query the conventional understanding of histories as well as to question who and what is alien and ultimately to establish a discourse about who belongs and who does not.
NON -POOR ONLY
This ongoing series of public artworks references apartheid era signs by using a ‘NON-POOR ONLY’ sticker to draw attention to the normalization of Neo- Apartheid discriminatory laws and practices. In the South African apartheid state, legislation discriminated against the vast majority of citizens who were deprived of land and further condemned to a life of servitude through inferior education and low-paying jobs while being denied access to services and amenities. Public signage was the visual and textual markers of exclusion and inclusion that was used on public transport, public amenities, private and state institutions and Government Departments as well as businesses.
The vaunted dismantling of Apartheid did not ensure a more equitable society. Social and structural inequalities are now perpetuated through the ‘market-friendly’, neo-liberal policies and trickle-down economics that were part of the negotiated settlement which continues to entrench Apartheid era spatial and economic divides, and serves to exacerbate and reinforce the exclusion of the majority of citizens. Thus the pass-book is no longer required as the marks of difference have been transformed into the body itself through dress, accent, language, class and cultural otherness.
The stickers have been pasted in various locations where residents are still being evicted, victimized and discriminated against, or where they are being denied access to services and amenities based on their socio-economic status. The sites of the stickers are documented and captioned, before being uploaded to the Xcollektiv blog and shared on various social networks.
The artwork is comprised of prints of some of the documented sites that are a part of this ongoing series. Stickers are available to extend the participatory scope of the work and the public submits the documented images to the xcollektiv. In this way the project extends to include different voices and continues to expand in both public and virtual spaces.
THE HONESTY STALLED
This is a transactional, transitory exhibition and installation designed to invade sanitized and sterile commercial spaces and to juxtapose notions of high-end commodification and exclusivity with one of the most basic – and yet much maligned – contemporary expressions of economic activity.
The ubiquitous pavement stall is a symbol of individual motivation-against-all-odds, while simultaneously becoming an object of contempt and reprisal with its street-level accessibility and consequent vulnerability. This humble stall continues to be targeted by the State through increasingly hostile legislation that favours the profit motive of big retailers and the monopolistic tendencies of the formal economy over developing capacity amongst small-scale local traders. In Central Business Districts throughout the country, Municipalities are increasingly limiting the spaces where informal trade is undertaken while simultaneously profiting from traders through monthly permits and site rental.
The postcards on sale at stall depict a selection of constructed images from the Space Invader series. This project seeks to invert the officially subverted history of colonial theft and the subsequent normalization of the brutality and structural violence that remains a primary feature of contemporary South African society.
It is constructed from hardboard, paper, plastic, metal, earth, stone and bone.
This is a series of mug-shots and charge sheets for politicians and capitalists who are wanted for questioning by the People’s Court to answer for their involvement in various illegal activities that have either been misrepresented or suppressed and who continue to benefit from the inequality, injustice and inhumanity that has come to characterize the global socio-economic landscape.
The DANC Party art project was launched in 2013 with the specific intention of highlighting the farcical nature of a multi-party democracy within a South African context, and to draw attention to the parallels that exist amongst the major parties.
Within the globalized capitalist market, the claim that political decisions and policies are implemented to fulfil the will and aspirations of the majority of citizens is preposterous when one considers that these decisions and policies are dictated by an elitist ideology which by its very design creates and maintains inequality, corruption and injustice.
The project appropriates images and other promotional propaganda from political parties and through synthesis, mimicry and inversion, seeks to debunk the absurdity of their claims.
The DANC Party incorporates performance, installation, public participatory processes and public art, as well as online publication and media into its practices.
THE APE TIMES
Brokered News! This is a front page news spoof that is ‘nominally free and interdependent’. ‘A publication committed to reporting whatever our corporate sponsors and advertisers approve of in a way that is openly biased and totally devoid of fact.
The poster series forms part of various ongoing public artworks designed to draw attention to the normalization of Neo-Apartheid discriminatory laws and practices. These have entrenched rather than redressed settler colonial Apartheid-era spatial and economic divides while exacerbating the criminalization of the poor.
The poster series highlights the specific roles of political leaders and the collusion between state and private institutions in various present-day community struggles throughout the country where citizens and residents continue to be evicted, victimized, discriminated against or are being denied access to services and amenities based on their socio-economic status.
These public artworks aim to interrupt sterile representations of our cities, to question the privatization of public spaces and ultimately to establish a discourse about the implementation and enforcement of discriminatory by-laws that inhibit the rights of the poor, the homeless, informal sectors.
To protect and serve – An ode to a fascist democracy – (or) how the neo-liberal rainbow got burned…
Willem Wikkelspies in Stereotype
For more about the Xcollektiv please visit our blog at http://xcollektiv.wordpress.com or like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/xcollektiv or if you want to get involved email us at email@example.com