Thursday, 28 June 2007

REVISITING SOUTH AFRICA (III): “SHACK CHIC”

I already had the ‘coffee table’ book for a few years, but this time decided to buy (with this post in mind) the postcard set made out of it, in Cape Town.

Here’s how it is presented by its editors*: “This book is a documentary on the lives of ‘previously disadvantaged’ but presently overcoming individuals. It is about the dignity to be found in the dusty streets of South Africa’s shack-lands. While these people obviously don’t take pleasure in the poverty they live in, they stand proud in the face of it. These are people who are doing the best they can with the little they have and, in the process, coming up with something aesthetically unique and fresh to offer the world. This is creativity and ingenuity. This is Shack Chic.”

Yet, for some reason, I can't get 'round this question: is “Shack Chic” really about

CELEBRATING CREATIVITY OR GLAMOURISING POVERTY?

***

“victory: to build a shack and call it home”


“houses are built on foundations and walls and roof. homes are built with things much deeper and less concrete”


“temples are never built in one day. but mine, this shack, was built in half a day”



“there is something sensual about the rattle of rain on a corrugated roof”


“after the rain, earth, as whiff, comes knocking on my fragile door. earth as fragrance embracing the musk and unmasking the undressed breath of another night of tender love making under the naughty stars peeping through the transparency of a revealing plastic roof”



“on that chair there, we conceived Sipho the gift. that was before the bed and a job from Airflex Recliners (Pty) Ltd”


“jesus was not born here but sometimes he comes in through the little holes in the walls and sits on that chair”


“there are many ways to make music. sometimes it is a deep blue against the wall, a bright yellow against fear, another red to tribute imagination, hopefully an orange to earth bad vibes and my black voice saying my life is beautiful”



“these walls, thin as membranes, keep nothing outside. they are here to keep our beauty inside, away from that solitude out there”


“the tentacles of despair are challenged by the soft touches of eternal determination. many times between void and void it is only us testifying to creative essence as hope.”


Photography by Craig Fraser
Poetry by Sandile Dikeni

*Quivertree Publications, Cape Town, South Africa (2002)



ADENDA: Pela sua relevancia nao so' para o tema deste post, mas tambem para algumas discussoes aqui tidas, decidi colocar aqui em anexo este artigo publicado esta semana no jornal Capetoniano 'Cape Times'.

I already had the ‘coffee table’ book for a few years, but this time decided to buy (with this post in mind) the postcard set made out of it, in Cape Town.

Here’s how it is presented by its editors*: “This book is a documentary on the lives of ‘previously disadvantaged’ but presently overcoming individuals. It is about the dignity to be found in the dusty streets of South Africa’s shack-lands. While these people obviously don’t take pleasure in the poverty they live in, they stand proud in the face of it. These are people who are doing the best they can with the little they have and, in the process, coming up with something aesthetically unique and fresh to offer the world. This is creativity and ingenuity. This is Shack Chic.”

Yet, for some reason, I can't get 'round this question: is “Shack Chic” really about

CELEBRATING CREATIVITY OR GLAMOURISING POVERTY?

***

“victory: to build a shack and call it home”


“houses are built on foundations and walls and roof. homes are built with things much deeper and less concrete”


“temples are never built in one day. but mine, this shack, was built in half a day”



“there is something sensual about the rattle of rain on a corrugated roof”


“after the rain, earth, as whiff, comes knocking on my fragile door. earth as fragrance embracing the musk and unmasking the undressed breath of another night of tender love making under the naughty stars peeping through the transparency of a revealing plastic roof”



“on that chair there, we conceived Sipho the gift. that was before the bed and a job from Airflex Recliners (Pty) Ltd”


“jesus was not born here but sometimes he comes in through the little holes in the walls and sits on that chair”


“there are many ways to make music. sometimes it is a deep blue against the wall, a bright yellow against fear, another red to tribute imagination, hopefully an orange to earth bad vibes and my black voice saying my life is beautiful”



“these walls, thin as membranes, keep nothing outside. they are here to keep our beauty inside, away from that solitude out there”


“the tentacles of despair are challenged by the soft touches of eternal determination. many times between void and void it is only us testifying to creative essence as hope.”


Photography by Craig Fraser
Poetry by Sandile Dikeni

*Quivertree Publications, Cape Town, South Africa (2002)



ADENDA: Pela sua relevancia nao so' para o tema deste post, mas tambem para algumas discussoes aqui tidas, decidi colocar aqui em anexo este artigo publicado esta semana no jornal Capetoniano 'Cape Times'.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What can I say ...its sad and at the same time touching and beautiful ....

You wish you can have hands that reachout like a river to be helping to uplift others instead just feeling sad for them

Nasra

Denudado said...

Koluki, este conjunto de fotos parece-me ter mais a ver com "glamourising poverty" do que com qualquer outra coisa.

Lembro-me de ter visto um livro publicado pouco depois da Dipanda e que incluía várias fotografias tiradas nos musseques de Luanda. As fotografias mostravam diversas soluções encontradas, com muito poucos ou nenhuns recursos e de forma engenhosa e criativa, pelos moradores dos musseques para o premente problema da habitação. As fotos não se pareciam com estas, nem de perto nem de longe. Eram muito mais realistas, tentando mostrar as coisas tal e qual como elas eram.

A justificação dada pelo autor ou autores do livro (não me lembro quem tenha sido) era a de que se tornava necessário fazer um levantamento das soluções encontradas pela criatividade popular em matéria de habitação, antes que os musseques desaparecessem, o que se esperava que viesse a acontecer "em breve"... Seria uma espécie de memória para as gerações do futuro.

Não me lembro porque é que não comprei o livro. Agora que me lembrei dele, gostaria de o ter aqui comigo. Pareceu-me ser muito interessante. Provavelmente era mais interessante do que este “Shack Chic” da Cidade do Cabo.

Diasporense said...

Eu tambem tenho alguma dificuldade em responder a essa questao, porque ha nas fotos essa dicotomia do belo das cores, sorrisos e arrumacao estetica, por um lado, e a evidente precaridade das shacks e vidas nelas retratadas, por outro. Nao me restam entao duvidas quanto a criatividade e a pobreza ai coexistindo, mas nao sei realmente qual tera sido o objectivo primario dos autores.
Mas o que nao pude mesmo deixar de notar e a, podemos chamar coincidencia?, entre as partes do texto poetico onde se fala do "rattle of rain on a corrugated roof" e "after the rain... earth as fragrance... under the naughty stars peeping through the... roof" e um certo poema intitulado "pela chuva, as raizes"?

;-)

Koluki said...

Nasra: I agree with you and I guess what these people least need or want is that anyone feels sad or sorry for them...


Denudado: Nao conheco o livro sobre os mussekes de Luanda de que fala, mas uma coisa lhe posso garantir: as shacks da Africa do Sul (e apenas posso falar das que conheco de Jo'burg and Cape Town) sao centenas de vezes piores do que as casas dos tradicionais mussekes de Luanda (nao me atrevo a falar dos mais recentes, mas acredito que mesmo esses conseguem ser melhores...). E' que enquanto nos nossos mussekes normalmente se usam materiais mais duraveis como barro e vigas de madeira (pau a pique?), ou mesmo tijolo e cimento, nas "shaklands" sul-africanas usa-se quase exclusivamente plastico, papelao e, muito raramente zinco. E certamente as vistas, de perto ou de longe, nao se parecem nada com estas "glamourised" fotografias...
Curiosamente, os autores deste livro tambem falam em "contribuir para o desaparecimento das shaklands"... mas o que tem acontecido ao longo dos anos ate' agora tem sido apenas mudarem-nas de uns sitios para outros - nisso, e' tudo igualito como em Luanda!


Diasporense: O que e' que lhe posso dizer, meu caro? E' precisamente essa dicotomia que me deixa a pergunta 'eternamente' em aberto.
Obrigada pela lembranca... E' interessante que a minha ideia inicial era apenas fazer este post com as fotografias e a pergunta. Mas, entretanto, deu-me para ir folhear o livro, que acho que ja' nao abria desde que o comprei ha' uns anos e deparo-me entao com os textos (reconheci imediatemente o que fala sobre 'many ways to make music' porque o tinha transcrito num desses apontamentos que de vez em quando encontro e nao faco a minima ideia de onde os tirei...) e dou-me conta que todos eles, excepto dois ou tres proverbios africanos pelo meio, sao da autoria de Sandile Dikeni, cujo 'profile' encontrei no fim do livro e que reza assim:

"Sandile Dikeni, a poet and columnist, is the author of two collections of poetry, 'Guava Juice' (1992) and 'Telegraph to the Sky' (2000). His work has also been anthologised in many journals and collaborations including Staffrider (SA), New Observations (New York), Wasafri (London), Khayelitsha: 14-2-95, a collaboration with Alesandro Esteri (Italy). He has been translated into French, Hebrew and Italian."

Claro que eu nao o tinha lido quando escrevi 'pela chuva as raizes', mesmo porque nao creio que ele tivesse publicado alguma coisa em 84/85... mas para mim este e' 'the sort of stuff' de que se fazem as "identidades culturais": nao nos conhecemos, certamente nao habitamos os mesmos espacos, nao falamos as mesmas linguas (excepto, e acidentalmente, o Ingles) e no entanto, eis-nos falando das mesmas experiencias, dos mesmos cheiros e sensacoes. Nao sei porque isto fez-me tambem lembrar de um poema da Paula Tavares no primeiro livro dela em que ela dizia do Maboque: "quem nunca comeu, tem problemas da libido." Eu diria o mesmo de quem nunca viu 'estrelas' pelos furinhos de um tecto de zinco ou
sentiu o bater da chuva sobre um tecto de zinco, ou o cheiro da terra molhada pela chuva...

Kandandos!