Image: Scott Eric Williams, in Polymath Sketchbook performance (2017)

 

SCOTT ERIC WILLIAMS

Interviewed by Valeria Geselev

 

What role do you play in the Cape Town arts world? 

I wear many hats! I am a practising artist who sometimes works individually but I have found that I am much more of a collaborative artist. I also work as a webmaster for a few arts organisations, like Greatmore Studios and Africa South Art Initiative, where I also do research, multimedia content creation and some project management.

Which artwork tells the story of contemporary Cape Town? 

There are so many contemporary artworks that stand out. Right now there’s a body of work by the Hi!JACK collective that speaks to me. The members come from different disciplines and create multilayered work that combine performance, fashion, poetry, photography and video.

They performed Pot of Gold in Langa recently. That work speaks to the idea of a rainbow nation. According to legend, you can find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Hi!JACK used that legend to speak about the South African promises of diverse and equal nation in times when apartheid capitalism is still in place. The work highlights the sharp contrast between rich and poor in the country. It also points to the illusion of the concept of the Middle class.

Where would you take a visitor, if you had one place to choose?

I would probably take them to Food Inn on Long Street because it’s close to my workspaces….also the food is reasonably priced and we could have a decent conversation.

How do you see the role of arts in the social life of Cape Town?

Art needs to translate and process data for people. We receive so much information on a daily basis, but there are major breakdowns in communication caused by our consumption of technology. Art can still be the catalyst for conversations. Put two people in front of an artwork for a while and see what happens.

Was there anything interesting that happened in the local art world recently?

There are a few things …

The emergence of new young curators who operate outside of the commercial gallery scene – Greer Valley, Justin Davy, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Brett Seiler. These are not household names – this means more space for expression and experimentation by critical voices. Those people bring flexibility into the term curatorship, with a cool independent art scene.

The opening of the Museum of Contemporary African Art is interesting. This establishment is raising a few questions: the collection focuses on artists who are represented by galleries, and not so much independent artists; the demographics of the management are not representing the country; there is also a problematic stereotype of what African art is; and the location of Waterfront is also a barrier of access. Besides all the politics we have a new major player in the Cape Town art scene. Let’s see how this alters the landscape.

Image: Pot of Gold performance by Hi!jACK in Langa (2016). Photography by Neo Jasmine Mokgosi.
Clothing designs by Lesiba Mabitsela.

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