Session #01 – music & art

A dialogue between music and art.

How do we experience artworks that we see?

How do we experience music that we listen to?

And what if we let music and art talk to each other through sound and aesthetic?

Music and images represent the Zeitgeist of their time of making, they tell a story, bring a feeling or understanding of something. Bringing the work of an visual artist into a dialogue with music opens up a space of a different experience of both – music and image.

We asked music manager Nkosinathi Nutty Mbelu of Kaya FM to curate a musical dialogue between the artworks of Khaya Witbooi and his collection of African music. Khaya Witbooi´s contemporary artworks speak of social critique and parody, post-colonial and post-apartheid political tensions as well as paradoxes of consumerism and globalization, always conveying humor and sarcasm.

Nkosinathi Nutty Mbelu used these elements and chose music that reacts, juxtaposes, questions or supports the artwork´s story. This dialogue between music and art thus paints divers stories that can be encountered in a multi-sensory way.

How that looks, feels, sounds like?

Well, listen, feel and see at First Thursday at Upstairs at Mesh – 02 November, 2017.

Nkosinathi Nutty Mbelu:

“After reading the curatorial statement and looking at the artwork, a number of important themes stood out for me: deceit, abstract, life and death, history, freedom of expression, colonialism, slavery, beauty and violence, land dispossession, nature, politics.

The music chosen reflects all of these themes and will be specific to genres that, in my opinion, carry these themes well namely: African folk music, jazz (vocal and instrumental), blues, lounge, soul.

For example, Sun Ra’s Where There Is No Sun is an abstract piece of music that speaks to the dichotomous nature of the dark sky,  it is calm, serene and beautiful but at the same time, it is ugly because it is cold, unfriendly and without light.

Magauane Mahloele’e Ancient Times is about a pre-colonial period in South Africa, its haunting melody sparks nostalgic thoughts of an almost Utopian society.

Zoe Modiga’s Yakhal’ Inkomo mourns the Sharpeville massacre, pass laws and apartheid legislation.”

More info:

Khaya Witbooi

Khaya Witbooi was born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He coined the word “pap-art” – being “pap” the traditional poor staple food in Southern Africa – to define his personal approach to contemporary art as a self-taught artist. Witbooi’s collage-style paintings, created from a combination of stenciling and spray paint on canvas, are strongly influenced by graffiti and pop art, as well as hip-hop culture and aesthetics.

While appropriating media like installation and performance, Witbooi explores the dialectics between material and immaterial labor, cognitive and manual skills, fordist and post-fordist productive systems and knowledge and ignorance, reflecting on how those relations keep consolidating global asymmetries in the social and racial hierarchies of contemporary South Africa.

His breadth of work refers to the colonial history of gardens in South Africa and the botanic imperialism perpetuated by Britain during its expansion. The celebrated beauty of South African botanical diversity, in particular in the Western Cape region, conceals a colonial regime of alien plant introduction.

This glorification of domesticated nature’s beauty veils the system of land dispossession and gardening labor exploitation that inform the history of South Africa. He creates images in which recognisable symbols represented in a collage- and sticker-like form, suggest the reality of the clumsy manufactured regime South African nationalist propaganda.

More info: