A group of 15 South African artists with a name like the JHB Massive Supercrew are bound to collaborate on some remarkable ventures. This Supercrew is an extension of JHB Massive; a newly formed collective that focusses on a multi-disciplinary way of working and combines already established projects with improvisational, process-driven work. Even though participating artists have garnered accolades in their own right and have worked together in smaller partnerships, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Ghana will be first time they will all be creating work together.
“All of us have been working with each other in some way or another over the years, so the temporary collective we’ve formed is based on those relationships and our mutual understanding and appreciation of each other’s work and approach to making art”, remarks the project’s initiator Lindiwe Matshikiza. For example, Mpumelelo Mcata’s film debut, Black President, premieres in Johannesburg this week with a soundtrack by João Orecchia. The two of them form part of the band, Motèl Mari, along with Tshepang Ramoba, who in turn forms part of BLKJKS and BLKJKSSoundsystem with Mpumelelo. Lindiwe, Dean Hutton, Lavendhri Arumugam and Anthea Moys are part of CC Joburg, an ongoing group public art project at Ithuba Gallery. Lavendhri, Lindiwe and Vishanthi Kali are members of the Sisterhood of Displaced Brides, who occasionally perform with Motèl Mari. The endless creative crossovers within this group of performers, visual artists, musicians, designers, archivists and linguists is not just testament to the power of working together but also contributes to their individual successes.
This outlook is pertinent in the arts community where the artist’s vision is sometimes compromised to procure funding and competition is rife – because everyone is applying for the same funding. The core values of JHB Massive promote non-competitiveness, creating connections and strengthening ties with other African artists and festivals. “With this project,” says Lindiwe, “we’re affirming the idea that we’re all better off working together, acknowledging that we each have a part to play in each other’s successes, and having a unified stance against the obstacles that face communities in general. We’re wanting to find alternative ways of being, creating and working as artists, and the impact is clear in all kinds of ways.”
Their first series of interdisciplinary performances and interactions will respond to the festival’s theme, ‘African Electronics’, and will include both new and existing projects. When asked about the selection process for the Supercrew, Linidiwe said that, “It’s not so much a question of selection as burning desire. Like we’ve said, we’ve all worked with each other – or at least been aware of each others work and work ethic – over the years and so the individual artists that have committed to this somewhat ambitious exercise are doing so because of the collective strength of the team”.
You can take part in their Thundafund campaign to help grow the movement and get South African art to the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, which takes place from August 22 – 23 in Accra, Ghana.
The JHB Massive Supercrew are: Anthea Moys, Lindiwe Matshikiza, João Orecchia, Mpumelelo Mcata, Tshepang Ramoba, Siyabonga Mthembu, Breeze Yoko, Vishanthi Kali, Lavendhri Arumugam, Noluthando Lobese, Naomi van Niekerk, Nicholas Pule Welch, Mushroom Hour Half-Hour and Dean Hutton.