Explore boundaries

2018-02-20 06:01

The spaces between communities are becoming home to a non-profit organisation that looks to inspire and connect through arts.

Borderlands is an organisation that looks to bring together communities in the Far South, divided by physical boundaries, cultures and class, in a safe and inclusive space.

In 2014, founder and Noordhoek resident Leila Anderson performed an action that was the seed of Borderlands.

“I drew a spiral on a map of the Noordhoek valley, starting at my birthplace and going wider and wider across the map.

“Then I tried to walk that spiral in the real world. This action, experiencing on foot the boundaries and divisions between the different communities of the area by walking alone through the borderlands, opened up a whole new direction for my work,” she says.

Anderson is public arts curator and was the co-curator of Infecting the City Festival in 2016 and 2017 – experience she decided to use to create a new model for her home and surrounds.

“The borderlands between communities are our stages, exhibition spaces, meeting places, being places. All our events are free and we provide transport and refreshments­.

“These are simple ways to get rid of the practical obstacles that stand in the way of connecting with each other.

“From there, through the way that art makes conversations, provokes, surprises and entertains, we can really start to experience a different way of being together. “

Anderson linked up with playwright and performance-maker Chase Rhys and arts activist Kati Francis, both of whom she had known for many years.

Rhys, who is from Ocean View, says the organisation is about “creating safe spaces for people to encounter one another”.

“We organise inclusive moments for connection on our mountains, in our waters and on the lands designed to separate us. We use art to cross our physical, social and internal borders,” he says.

V Continued on page 2.

The spaces between communities are becoming home to a non-profit organisation that looks to inspire and connect through arts.

Borderlands is an organisation that looks to bring together communities in the Far South, divided by physical boundaries, cultures and class, in a safe and inclusive space.

In 2014, founder and Noordhoek resident Leila Anderson performed an action that was the seed of Borderlands.

“I drew a spiral on a map of the Noordhoek valley, starting at my birthplace and going wider and wider across the map.

“Then I tried to walk that spiral in the real world. This action, experiencing on foot the boundaries and divisions between the different communities of the area by walking alone through the borderlands, opened up a whole new direction for my work,” she says.

Anderson is public arts curator and was the co-curator of Infecting the City Festival in 2016 and 2017 – experience she decided to use to create a new model for her home and surrounds.

“The borderlands between communities are our stages, exhibition spaces, meeting places, being places. All our events are free and we provide transport and refreshments­.

“These are simple ways to get rid of the practical obstacles that stand in the way of connecting with each other.

“From there, through the way that art makes conversations, provokes, surprises and entertains, we can really start to experience a different way of being together. “

Anderson linked up with playwright and performance-maker Chase Rhys and arts activist Kati Francis, both of whom she had known for many years.

Rhys, who is from Ocean View, says the organisation is about “creating safe spaces for people to encounter one another”.

“We organise inclusive moments for connection on our mountains, in our waters and on the lands designed to separate us. We use art to cross our physical, social and internal borders,” he says.

“Right now in the Far South, things are changing fast. Around us, our physical landscapes are undergoing major development, but do we understand what is being built and what is being destroyed?

“I hope the Borderlands project can aid in creating conscious citizens who are proactive about the future of our communities. As artists we are also working with more subtle landscapes; people’s beliefs, ideas and feelings.” 

The Borderlands team is now planning the Borderlands Public Arts Festival in March. 

Rhys says: “Last year we hosted a Borderlands Public Arts Festival try-out. I was an artist in that programme and to get to show my work locally, to the people and in the spaces that influence me so deeply, was very special. Centring the Deep South as a creative hive felt right.”

The organisations fourth member, Sibabale Silo, joined the team after the Borderlands Public Arts Festival try-out in last year and he brought with him the vision for youth development in Masiphumelele. 

One of these is Drama Masiphumelele Ocean View Teens, a group for young womxn and queer youth, facilitated between Rhys and actress Rehane Abrahams. Another is Kumba Theatre, a performance collective based in Masiphumelele. They’re currently working with BeautifulMess Theatre to create performances for the Festival. Borderlands is also running a Borderlands Eco-Arts Camp for 20 Grade 8 learners at Sunbird Centre.

Rhys says: “We’ve taken our youth to watch a number of professional productions at the city’s most established theatres and festivals. We carefully select the work we expose our youth to, making sure they are relevant and representative. When reflecting on these works, our participants often comment that they are now able to see the value of their own creativity.” 

Borderland has also been running as series of walks to explore the natural spaces between communities. The last Border Walk is on Saturday 3 March with ground-breaking poet Koleka Putuma and forager Roushanna Grey. 

Anderson adds: “In each Border Walk we have two guests who guide us in experiencing the place and every time they have been so generous in sharing stories, knowledge and giving us space to play and rest.” 

The organisation can now be supported on Thundafund, which will assist in making this year’s festival happen.

“We haven’t waited around for funding to make things happen. But in order to be sustainable, we have to cover costs. There are expenses that can’t be avoided so that everyone has access. We need to pay for taxi rental and refreshments, facilitators and printing, and the time and creative input of our project team and the artists who create work for the Borderlands Public Arts Festival. Art is crucial to a healthy society – we believe it should be free to audiences and creators should be valued,” Anderson says.

V For more information, contact Borderlands on 079 365 3967 or borderlands.deepsouth@­gmail.com.

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