A few weeks ago I attended a conference at the Spier Wine Estate in Cape Town. The conference, Tipping Point, was about Art and Climate Change, and, despite my reservations that it would be full of angry mueslis in drowning polar bear T shirts – I not only met some amazing people in both the arts and Sciences, but also genuinely opened myself up to a new way of thinking, and a shift in my every day behavior and concerns.
Whatever your ideological, religious or political approach to our planet is; it’s important to notice that we are seriously fucking up: Our home is in serious danger, and it’s time we started cleaning up a little bit. What was particularly interesting to learn at the Tipping Point conference was that the next COP * conference after the one in Mexico this year is in Cape Town - 2011 is the time when the issue of climate change comes to Africa – plus, unlike with FIFA & the NAC, there may actually be SUPPORT for the arts around this international event.
All that aside, however (it’s very cold in Grahamstown and it’s hard to stay focused/serious while wearing three pairs of pajamas and a furry hat):
Myself and James King attended a follow-up meeting around COP 17 while in Grahamstown, and in a discussion led by Dylan McGarry of the Arkworks collective, the assembled group discussed what would be important, both as artists and citizens of the planet, for hosting this event in Cape Town. When looking at climate change in terms of rates of consumption vs. harm to the planet, it’s very apparent that first world wealthier countries are actually consuming all of the world’s resources – leaving nothing for countries that are still developing to reach for. With this in mind, we at Mixtape (with the help of Arkworks ) looked to the concept of ‘Upcycling’ as an African model to inspire some of our community workshops.
Upcycling basically means taking Rubbish and turning it into something useful, meaningful, or beautiful. Like those chickens made out of plastic bags, or Heath Nash’s lights. For our very first workshops at the 2010 National Arts Festival, Mixtape worked with children from the Sakhalunthu Cultural Group and the Art Factory initiative to produce Wind Socks and decorative flowers, all out of throwaway material. As well as teaching these young people skills for transforming waste into art (and often with economically viable trade-offs; many of the flowers would have looked great as buttons in a Cape Town boutique), we also started some of the workshops with a walk around the youths’ immediate home environments to pick up trash to use as raw materials, and then ended by hanging the wind socks and flowers both around the village green and Grahamstown central, as well as marking out the home of Sakhaluntu Cultural Group in Extension 9.
All in all a good start.
In collaboration with the Sakhuluntu Cultural Group, Mixtape will be facilitating daily art, music and theatre workshops with youth from Hlalani and Extension 9, with each workshop culminating in public outcomes.
Sakhuluntu Cultural group is a Section 21 initiative that aims to help underprivileged youth stay away from crime, drugs and alcohol by providing after-school activities for up to thirty of the community’s children to