Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kliptown Stories Exhibition: Opening 13 October 2013

This multimodal show entitled ‘Kliptown Stories Exhibition’ brings the Kliptown Stories book (2008) back into the spotlight and home to its origins. The artworks and archival material showcased at this event will highlight and explore selected texts and images of the said book by Prince Massingham and Clifford Charles.  

(Massingham the author, was born and raised in Kliptown. He is currently still resident in Kliptown).

Through dramatic performance, readings (by Massingham), drawings and paintings (by Charles), as well as photographs and other archival material (provided by Gene Duiker); the Kliptown Stories exhibition curated by Farieda Nazier aims to re-activate the thread of historical narratives present in the Kliptown Stories book. The book, published by Chameleon publishers in 2008, is the product of collaboration between actor Prince Massingham and artist Clifford Charles. The show will highlight the often unheard histories of the still marginalised Kliptown community.


Kliptown is the origin of many iconic South African political leaders, activists and artist. The experiences and stories of its vibrant multicultural community are analogous to locations affected by the implementation of the Group Areas Act of 1950; such as Sophia Town and District 6.

The semi-auto biographical art book by Prince Massingham and Clifford Charles titled Kliptown Stories, is a valuable historical archive composed of Kliptown-based encounters and experiences. It constitutes poetry and stories of childhood memories about characters that reappear in a loosely woven structure. The narration juxtaposes a keen understanding of the traumatic political situation between the 1960’s and 1980’s and wry observations of the present day context interspersed with Charles’s impressionistic drawings. The book is a reservoir of essential historical knowledge, contributing to our understanding of both previous and current meta-narratives, twenty years post-democracy. As such, it contributes to filling gaps in apartheid and post-apartheid discourse – providing resources for researchers, scholars, students, community members and broader society.

A subsequent collaboration between Massingham and Benji Francis as director-facilitator in (2009) resulted in a theatrical performance, based on selected elements of the book. In 2012 the Rockefeller Ballagio Residency provided resources for further exploration and development of the performance piece script. In 2013, Massingham and Francis with the sponsorship of the Ithuba Arts Fund collaborated to produce a performance piece and video work entitled KLIPTOWN: UNSUNG, UNREWARDED AND ON THE BRINK OF DEATH. 

The Kliptown Stories exhibition team included Khwezi Gule (Chief Curator: Soweto Museums: Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum and Kliptown Open Air Museum), Prince Massingham (Principal Artist; Actor, writer, facilitator), Clifford Charles (Artist;, Farieda Nazier (Curator; Artist-curator and academic) and Mocke J van Veuren (Independent artist, experimental filmmaker, researcher and educator).

Special thank you to: 
Soweto Museums: Hector Pieterson Memorial & Museum and Kliptown Open Air Museum
National Arts Council
University of Johannesburg: Multimedia Department 

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