Q & A with Minenkulu Ngoyi

Photo: Anthea Pokroy

Photo: Anthea Pokroy

 

Minenkulu Ngoyi has made a name for himself in the South African art scene over the last couple of years. The printmaker, ‘zine-ster, artist, and publisher studied at Artist Proof Studios and is one half of the ‘zine duo Alphabet Zoo. Ngoyi, has recently joined the Wits School of Art to run a silk screen and ‘zine workshop for second year drawing and design students. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with the Johannesburg-based printmaker to discuss race relations in the local art space.

 

When you started making ‘zines and subsequently Alphabet zoo, what was its purpose?

We always wanted to do publications and printmaking is a form of publication, that’s why we make ‘zines. More than anything, there is no one who really makes ‘zines in the country, the few [‘zine-sters] we have are mainly in Cape Town. We wanted to say a lot of things and zines allow us to do that.

 

What are some of the struggles of being a young, black artist in the art space?

I think the black space hasn’t transformed much, it’s just that names are not used like they were used back then, for example the term ‘black artist’ has fallen away and now people just say ‘artist’. But it’s still the same for black artists, we are still treated the same. Unfortunately we don’t have enough black buyers or collectors so we are still in a very white space. Aseyethu e-art, eyabelungu [Art isn’t ours, it’s white peoples].

 

Do you think we can still transform the art space?

If people change their minds. If we transform our people, so the people we want to buy our work—which is black people—can know more about art it might change.

 

#SOMETHINGMUSTFALL was an exhibition inspired by the transformation climate in the country, how did you all manifest this presentation?

The show was initially intended to be immediate, after the #RhodesMustFall situation but because of the [difficulties of] black spaces. If we had a black space we would have been able to do it but we then had to find a space and eventually we did it. We wanted to be radical and talk about something that was relevant. So instead of saying #RhodesMustFall I suggested we make people guess and go with #SomethingMustFall not to be typical.

Lots of drama at School of Arts imbizo

Students from the Drama department had the most complaints at the first Wits School of Arts student imbizo (meeting).

At an imbizo hosted by the Wits School of Arts (WSOA) student council on Monday afternoon, students from the drama department took the opportunity to file their frustrations. The imbizo was intended to acquaint students with the council, which was elected three months ago, and brainstorm ideas on future activities.

One of their more serious complaints was that drama students felt that they did not have enough access to the Wits theatre. Students are not allowed to use the theatre unless it is during an exam or an actual production.

“The Wits theatre is a separate entity from the school of arts. It functions as a business that need to generate profit.”

Each student is only given 30 minutes to familiarise themselves with the theatre stage before their exam starts. Students said their performance marks suffer because 30 minutes is not enough time to familiarise themselves with the space and use it efficiently.

Chairperson of the WSOA student council Nolo Mmeti,  said they have looked into the problem before. “The Wits theatre is a separate entity from the School of Arts. It functions as a business that needs to generate profit.” For this reason there is very little they can do about it. He also said when students are allowed to use the theatre often things are broken and equipment is not returned on time which leaves them with very little room to negotiate around the matter.

Students also complained that the School rules state that students are to receive their provisional marks a week before their exams but this does not happen for all departments. While others said that some lecturers do not give clear criteria of how students will be assessed. One student went on say that“sometimes I think marks are dependent on how close one is to the lecturer”.

A learder in the arts: Nolo Mmeti, Chairperson of the Wits School of Arts student council.  Photo; Sibongile Machika

A learder in the arts: Nolo Mmeti, Chairperson of the Wits School of Arts student council. Photo; Sibongile Machika

The council gave feedback on some of the requests that they received last semester and assured students that all new matters would be looked in to.

From language barriers between students and lecturers, to marks that are released with students names, students felt  that council had done a great deal in raising real student issues with management and getting timely results.

Mmeti said they hope to have more of these imbizos to “instil a collaborative culture” between students and their council. He also said there isn’t enough “artist collaborations between students of various study years” and they hope to change that.

Students are encouraged to keep an eye on the Wits School of Arts social media sites to find out about events and information regarding their various departments.