Exploitation of Black Bodies in the Arts

1 Aug 2019 - 12:45

Body, art, context and subject came in the fifth Black Art and Communities at Heart (BACAH) conversation, titled 'Exploitation of Black Bodies in the Arts'. The event, presented by the Institute for Creative Arts and Mandisi Sindo, took place during June at the Khayelitsha Art School and Rehabilitation Centre, KASI RC, Khayelitsha. 

BACAH events, designed as public conversations to explore the importance of Black art, Black artists and Black communities in a democratic South Africa, are conceptualised and hosted by theatre activist, director and ICA fellow Mandisi Sindo. The 16 June event featured Masixole Mlandu – a subversive scholar, UCT graduate and Fees Must Fall activist – in discussion with the Township Opera Company (TOC), a group of black artists who grew tired of experiencing exploitation in the music industry and started their own successful company. Mlandu and TOC tackled the topic of underprivileged communities and artists, focusing on experiences of exploitation of black bodies in the arts, and how this affects the growth of the art industry and South Africa at large. 

Attendees were given an opportunity to contribute to the discussions around issues of racism, exploitation, hate, discrimination, exclusion and nepotism.  

BACAH conversations aim to find concrete ways for art to be used to address social ills and effect change. Importantly, these conversations take place outside of traditional centres of discussion (e.g. universities and city centres). They are held inside of the communities most affected by the subject of the talks.

Previous events included: “The State of the Townships” with Xola Skosana & Ukhona Mlandu; “Homophobia, Patriarchy and Queerness in the Townships” with Chumani Maxwele and Lwando Scott; “Defining Community Theatre” with Thami Mbongo and Zimasa May; and “Liberating Black Artists” with Given Jikwana and Unathi Ndiki. Prior to each event, an invited writer submits commentary to a selected respondent for comment. The writer’s commentary is also made publicly available.

Mandisi Sindo is a South African hero, actor, director, voice artist, curator, theatre practitioner and a community activist based in Cape Town. He is the founder, artistic director and CEO of Theatre4Change Arts Project, an NPO based in Khayelitsha with whom he has produced the Kasi-2-Kasi Public Art Festival. He is also former art director of the Makukhanye Art Room, the only award-winning Shack Theatre in South Africa. He is innovator and founder of the Khayelitsha Art School & Rehabilitation Centre – Kasi RC