Suburbia Granada, Satellite Cape Town
By definition, ‘suburb’ refers to an outlying district of an urban area. Connotations of the word vary wildly based on context, hinging largely upon the economic conditions of a particular area’s city centre. Where the city centre is also the centre of wealth, suburbs are associated with the low-income population of that area.
Les banlieues in the French, 90’s cult classic film La Haine are home to the protagonists, a group of young, working-class, second generation immigrants who journey through the urban space on a mission to avenge a friend who has been attacked by riot police. In comparison to the sleek but alienating portrayal of the Parisian commercial district, their suburb is rough but decidedly intimate. In the context of Johannesburg, for example, ‘suburb’ is far more likely to evoke images of expansive, green lawns and aggressively uniform, three metre-high walls. This, in opposition to the poverty and crime associated with Johannesburg’s city centre. Suburbia – suburban utopia, conceptualised as guarded islands or disguised prisons. But they are also vessels, empty and waiting, judged from the outside, but ultimately characterised by their content, the people who inhabit them.
Suburbia Contemporary, set in the outskirts of the city of Granada, was conceived as space operating outside of the centre, with all the opportunities for experimentation which that entails. Art spaces are often, on some level, utopic spaces. They are idealistic and may not always withstand the weight of the world as it is. They are largely defined by the people who have the capital, both financial and cultural, to inhabit them. As spaces that can exist within and battle against privilege and disadvantage, the role of the art gallery can be uncomfortable to evaluate. In La Haine, the protagonists are rejected from such a space.
Satellite, Suburbia Contemporary’s satellite project space, is new to Cape Town but is also one of many art spaces in the suburb of Woodstock, placed within the context of an ongoing, embattled, economic and political history. The height of an artistic space, like any other community, is characterised by a strong sense of self-awareness and reflection, and permeability and flexibility of form. Satellite functions as a link from one ‘margin’ to another, an assertion that worthy dialogue is not restricted to major centres. Still loosely defined, Satellite seeks to be a space for varied artistic visions. Playing within the freedom of the margins, in Cape Town and in Granada, Suburbia Contemporary and Satellite aim to amplify the voices of the artists present in both spaces.
Cape Town, 8.7.2019
ARP 7th Edition – Talents Exchange – Residency in Suburbia Contemporary (Granada) and Satellite Project Space, Cape Town
Satellite project space has changed its position in orbit. Having moved from Cape Town, it is now in Florence. (Satellite has no fixed location. It pops up in a new place for different occasions and timespans). The itinerant nature of Satellite enables it to reach out to the rich variety of artistic talent and practice in the various hemispheres it inhabits, thus creating vehicles for expression: the artists involved with the gallery come from many different parts of the world and follow different definitions of artistic practice.
The nomadic condition of Satellite resembles the itinerant movement of a heavenly body, always fluctuating on a focused path around a mother planet: Suburbia, now in Granada. We describe Satellite as a project that changes with the times. Just like itinerant societies can only carry essential items with them (work tools and instruments with which to cultivate the things they experience along the route), the cultural output of Satellite is growing continuously, without adding any physical burden. Satellite lives lightly with the earth. Its culture has no physical presence apart from the traces it leaves behind: the markings, works, the stories, myths, songs and poems transmitted from audience to audience as memories – continually expanding, all being transformed by experiences of the moment, revealing wonderful surprises. In this environment of growth, ideas can take root even in the most inhospitable terrain, forming around and in concert with the physical features of the place they find themselves.
Artists – who often live in inhospitable places, like nomads – are resilient people. They often find treasure in the most insignificant detail, become obsessive in their creative attempts, producing pleasures which improve the quality of life of society. The way the artists perceive their environment doesn’t just depend on the conditions they experience. Artistic perception is altered by past cultural output, by the memories of stories telling the creation of the environment, and the objects and people within it. Extensions of lives interlink in continuous visions and imaginations that define them. Their many different points of view – coloured by diverse cultural backgrounds – together create a multitude of varied experiences: Satellite a multifarious experience, wherein the environment and the expression of it intra-connects, if only for a moment, at a specific location.
Florence / Cape Town
Jaco Van Schalkwyk