Broadcasts

On Saturday evening, Luke Smith went to watch new instrumental band, Strage, play at the Broadcasts exhibition at KZNSA. After being blown away by the art, he gets destroyed by the sound. Read what he had to say after the jump.

Durban’s creative scene has been on fire of late. Blame the water, the air, the supposed apathy being shoved aside, blame whatever. Fact of the matter is it’s something the city has been in desperate need of. However, there have been a few black marks recently; exhibitions that have had the faint smell of ‘amateurish’ and ‘underwhelming’, so it’s great when something like Broadcasts comes along.

Their performance, to be blunt, was crushing. Simply crushing.

For some unknown reason, the date for the event was stuck in my head as the 30th, so it was a pleasant surprise when, driving through Glenwood on Friday night, my girlfriend pointed out that the KZNSA was looking full. I felt, along with the need for a new calendar, a renewed interest and excitement for the weekend. Perhaps a little too excited, because I arrived a good half an hour before opening time on Saturday. A trip to everyone’s favourite Christian magazine store and a catch up with friends later though, and the evening was on.

I’ve never been a fan of the KZNSA as an ‘art’ venue. I mean their food is alright, but as an exhibition space I’ve always found it just a little too open and barren. Space, height and a lot of white works 90% of the time, but in KZNSA’s case, it just doesn’t quite click for me. On Saturday night though there was a difference in the air. Maybe it was the afternoon beer kicking in, but the atmosphere just felt more personal and intimate. There was no awkwardness in the small crowd of art students, DUT whiz kids, Vega stragglers and the ‘what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-here’s; just friendly chit chat and lone souls staring at – and mentally deciphering – the art in front of them.

The brain child of Wesley Van Eeden, Broadcasts was conceived as a platform for him and Paul Senyol to display work influenced by their 3 month residency in Finland. Also on board for the event were Christian Mungai, Duane Smith and Pete Reynolds. In Durban’s community of designers and illustrators there is the ever present talk of a ‘Durban style’ and its appropriation by many in the city. Whether that style really exists or not is an argument for the birds, but if it does, then Wesley Van Eeden would undoubtedly be the man that birthed it. From Crossingpoint merch and Revolution Tee’s, to his long running Hope Project and beyond, his work has been a massive and telling influence on Durban’s art scene.

The work displayed at Broadcasts was full of imaginative character illustrations, a strong use of colour, and beautiful hand rendered typography, and was everything you’ve come to expect from him.

Cluttered and layered imagery versus strong, clean lines; Paul Senyol’s work was the perfect complement to Wesley’s. I am, nevermind a poor man, a beggar’s art critic, so I can’t rattle off on the contextual meanings and esoteric feelings behind Senyol’s layering, paint drips, interesting characters and clever layouts, but I can say this: as a teenager I brought a Vodacom shirt with his work on and I thought it was the coolest shit ever. So, years later, it seems that my tastes may have not changed as much as I thought, because staring at his canvases and paintings I was thinking the exact same thing.

In their artist statements and blurbs, Wesley and Senyol pointed out that the inspiration for their artworks was exploring the different viewpoints of people from around the world. ‘What are these people’s hopes, dreams, fears, and ambitions?’, they asked. So it was with the inclusion in Broadcasts of Duane Smith and Pete Reynolds – two artists with good work and skill but low profiles in the art community – that I felt not only was Broadcasts’ artistic representations of hopes and dreams being realised, but they were also being birthed and presented as a reality. The opportunity was something both artists took a hold of with open arms and the work in their respective fields of photography and film neatly complimented Wesley’s and Senyol’s dialogue.

For myself, and many included, one of the stand out pieces of the exhibition was definitely the massive (and I mean massive) mural put together by Christian Mungai, Wesley and Senyol. Its dramatic size, colours and eye-catching details were the perfect backdrop to the stage where the much anticipated band of the evening would soon be playing.

With the lights blacked out and an eerie backing track, Strage began. Their performance, to be blunt, was crushing. Simply crushing. It was the perfect showcase of building up and then releasing tension to create emotion. The Godflesh guitar tone, the Cult Of Luna sonic anxiety and the Pelican build-ups, these are the obvious influences, yet influences are what they remain. Strage are their own beast. It was their first show and without fail the first show jitters were there, but half a song in, and with the kinks ironed out, they looked like the pros their members are. The amount of noise and power coming from the 3 piece was overwhelming at times, and as they praised the gods of loud the crowd stared on.

“Do they get it?”, “Holy shit it’s loud!”, “That riff”, “I can’t believe this is happening at the KZNSA”, “That mural looks amazing” My mind ran wild with thoughts. Truth be told, a band like Strage on any other night and at any other event like this would probably have been out of place. Yet on Saturday night at Broadcasts, with artists trying to create dialogue and connect ideas through interpretation and art, a band with no vocals, just music to let the mind wonder and form its own conversation, it was exactly what was needed. It just made sense.

The exhibition will be on until the 23rd of October, for more info, check out the KZNSA website

*All images © Duane Smith

Comments
11 Responses to “Broadcasts”
  1. duane says:

    here some more images, behind the scene shots..
    Still busy with part 2&3

    http://www.dsmith.co.za/2011/10/11/broadcasts/

  2. skullboy says:

    Spot on, luke! I heard a dirty little rumour that the sound blew a few lightbulbs. ‘Crushing’ is the word. Absolutely, fantastically crushing. Sho, brilliant.

  3. Elinor says:

    Proud of you my buddy – @DuaneSmith – great images! Nice one scaliwag 🙂

  4. megz says:

    what a wonderful review on a wonderful night…thumbbbbs up.

  5. xdoomx says:

    On closer examination the lightbulbs in the gallery didn’t actually blow, they simply fell apart and to the floor :O

  6. Daisy says:

    Awesome review, i wish i could have been there…=)

  7. Pete says:

    Stoked. Shot for the rad review Luke!

  8. Ross says:

    wish I could have been there!
    nice words Luke.

  9. mat says:

    Bleak I missed the opening after this review sounds like I definitely missed out.
    Such a sick exhibition!
    Super pumped to be walking away with one of Wes’s pieces! Senyols stuff was also bullshit good!

    Great review!

  10. Nem says:

    Nice one! Sounds sick.

  11. xdoomx says:

    http://www.strage.co.za has all the noise by this band for free download.

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