Intervention of Interest
Committing to the artist and audience
with Studio Location Practice
Featured in our Of Interest series this week is the art collective Studio Location Practice. Platforming young artists making experimental work, we use the group show Toward New Frontiers, also featured in Open City, to examine the collective’s use of exhibition making and groove to activate community building.
It was a cold Thursday evening in Braamfontein. Making their way through Open City’s opening night in Braamfontein, crowds took a break outside Play Braamfontein’s 68 Juta Street where Natalie Paneng’s Ophelia Does Backstroke is being exhibited.
Sharing notes on what exhibition to revisit or go to next, some drank while others smoked. Between sips and puffs, a woman from Durban attending her first Open City turned to her friend to say, “Let’s do more of this ‘being outside to explore the culture thing’.” Agreeing, they finished their drinks before making their way back to Play Braamfontein’s 73 Juta Street where the fifth floor is currently housing the group exhibition, Towards New Frontiers. Presented by Studio Location Practice, Towards New Frontiers is a call to acknowledge the new ways artists are experimenting with how to materialise their interrogations, questions and interventions. Examining the self, the public, the absurd and uncanny, the show locates the Johannesburg-based artist in the zeitgeist.
A curatorial collective led by Nqaba Shakes Mbolekwana and Lesole Tauatswala, Studio Location Practice was established a sense of cross-medium pollination amongst curators, visual and performance artists as well as event organisers. “My involvement in the cultural space is really from a place of community. I am interested in understanding the ways that artists are supported, and ways that artists can support each other in order to create, or form rather, a self sustaining community,” explains Tauatswala.
Sitting four floors above Jabulani Dhlamini’s To Recall the Past and the Present and a block away from Paneng’s Ophelia Does Backstroke, the exhibitions inevitably sat in conversation with each other. In addition to revealing the public’s appetite for cultural activation post-lockdown, the shows speak of a seeking. Putting it summatively, Mbolekwana says, “All three shows hint towards a utopia, but without offering a concrete or tangible answer or way of getting there.”
Committed to both the artist’s private process and the public’s engagement with contemporary art, the Studio Location Practice model starts in, but is not limited to, conventional exhibtion. Working with exhibition making, groove is a critical component of how the collective conceptualises their interventions. An entry point for audiences that may not respond to white walls, the collective sees the social aspect as a lubricant for access.
“People should feel free to be curious and not understand something but still feel that they belong in spaces where stories, thoughts, processes, feelings and the soundscapes of our generations are shared,” says Mbolekwana. To this, Tauatswala responds by saying that their party Body Language was actually Towards New Frontiers’ subtext: “The instruction to ‘bring your body’ aimes to really hone in on our humanity. It is to dispel any kinds of preconceived notions of who can enjoy art. So the whole idea is really about recognising each other’s humanity regardless of the body bring. Just bring it.”
In Studio Location Practice fashion, Towards New Frontiers will conclude with a party. Click here for more information.