Week Four
In this recorded presentation, I will feature songs, short, stories and poems written by ordinary citizens living in remote and rural Malawi. These contributions were written by the participants of my recently completed fieldwork which examines the role of literature in the day-to-day lives of Malawians as they navigate issues pertaining to health and the body. The piece will show images and video stills from the field, in addition to the writings of the research participants. The objective is to demonstrate through creative presentation how storytelling and its forms as viewed as vital components of healing. Some are stories from the past, others biblical hymns, and the rest are creations made during our time in the field. The presentation will outline the ways in which songs and stories are composed and constructed as a means to breath energy into a sick body.
Week Four
The Dance between Breath & Death is a collaborative instillation between the Digital space, the Arts and the Social Sciences. This project is a sensory experience that uses sound and imagery to zoom into the relationship between breath, death (and grief). While breath is a core element of human life, as people we frequently take it for granted. Following a recent experience of death (specifically the death of a parent), one of the researchers observed that her unconscious engagement with breath resulted in heightened anxiety and unease. As time progressed, she reflected and found that conscious engagement with one’s breath can assist in maintaining aliveness even in times of grief. The journey of one’s process of grief is shared and the importance of breath brought to light. Through this explorative project, the team intends to shine a spotlight on breath with the aim of facilitating healing in times of death (and grief).
Week Three
For our contribution towards the Breath symposium, the Young & Curious group will offer a selection of creative pieces reflecting on the broader symposium theme. For us, the theme has provoked meditations on our personal and collective struggles as young people in contemporary South Africa to achieve and maintain emotional well-being. These questions are framed by both the immediate crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the broader structural inequalities that shape our lives. The pieces we offer will include a short film documenting a group project, eight individual submissions, and a selection of drawings from a public co-creation event we facilitated. The first piece, a short film conceived and directed by the group, depicts the struggles we face to continue running towards our goals and towards something bigger than ourselves. The individual pieces from group members include: a poem on domestic violence in context of COVID-19, a multimedia project exploring the experiences of women in contemporary South Africa, a poem reflecting on what it means to stay sane when everything is crumbling within, a painting visualizing one participant’s own struggles with mental health, two graphic works and accompanying reflections, and a three-part audiovisual collaboration called “Pockets of Intention.” Finally, we will offer a series of anonymous doodles from a public event we held earlier this year in which we invited people from different walks of life to reflect on their understandings of mental health and mental illness. As a collection, these pieces will provide both individual creative reflections and collaborative knowledge creation processes, thus allowing for different perspectives on the central theme of emotional well-being in contemporary South Africa. 
Week Three
This work is a diptych comprising of two canvasses – an imagined still life of an asthma pump and nasal spray bottle, belonging personally to me, the artist. Since I was a child; I was prone to asthma and required various apparatus of both asthma pumps and nebulizers on a regular basis to contain it. For a while I did not need these devices, but as a young adult I suddenly required the pump again. In addition to breathing difficulty onset by seasonal flu, these objects represented ‘affliction’ in a light sense, but something I had to deal with as a person, and therefore something I wanted to paint as an artist. The objects exist in a spotlight lit ‘nowhere world’ of a painterly background, one with visible brushstrokes and a stage-like setting. The texts ‘Bread of my Affliction’, and ‘Help Me!” refer to Asthma as an affliction, cause of pain or harm to myself, while the pump, both subjects of the paintings, act as antidotes to this, or “daily bread” – something I rely on, that saves me. I painted these works in late 2019, but they seem a little more poignant now in 2020 with the corona virus pandemic.
Week Three
Inhale, …pause, exhale, … pause Inhale … As an elementary and subtle process, our breath gives us our life: It affects our being and consciousness and is the pervading point of contact that connects us to a greater whole. As an archetypal process it collapses duality: it is simultaneously a point of beginning and end. It is the up, the down, the in, the out, the positive, the negative, action and stillness. Within it, it holds the centre. A centre that holds everything – as a point of origin we venture from it and navigate the world. And to it we all eventually return.
Week Three
To create this piece, six female Swati singers told me about their experiences of singing and of breathing, in relation to one another. Plans of getting together and co-creating a piece, unfortunately had to change due to the pandemic. Instead, I have examined their words and their musical work and combined what I have found into a piece where the six voices are in conversation; a piece that looks at a variety of outlooks on the meaning of music, which sometimes overlap, and what it feels like to breathe whilst making it.
Week Three
This poetry performance explores notions of how aspiration, as verb and noun, process and affect, provides the impetus for liveliness amidst the realities of a stifling world. The word aspiration refers not only the action of breathing into; it is also that which is breathed out; as well as being “the action of aspiring” or a “steadfast desire or longing for something above one” (OED Online). In the current global moment – characterised by late-stage capitalism and the resultant asphyxiation of lifeforms, macrocosms and importantly, hope – aspiring to breathe and aspiring to live for something greater appears as an almost radical act of liveliness.
Week Three
The skies are dusted cloudy with soot and the maple trees around our building cower in the sun. If you were to ever doubt the sensitivity and sentience of trees, perhaps now is the time to stop and reconsider. The redwoods look so moody and terrified today, as if they can hear the cries of their kin who are currently vanishing in flames and heat. I look at the air quality maps on Purple Air first thing every morning and then several times over the course of the day. First, I check on Berkeley. Then I check on mom in the South Bay. Then, I type in Kampala, and watch as the map bounces from the US all the way over to the shores of Lake Victoria in East Africa. Our air quality is roughly equivalent. I open the window for a sniff. It has that special smell that you often get at the Mulago Guest House after a trash pile burns outside all night. Or London smog in the depths of winter when all the trees are hibernating. Or I could be vaping the special flavor of Beijing. I close the window and will try again in an hour. California is burning. Politically and literally at the moment.
Week Three
As a researcher and photographer working on social and environmental issues, this exhibition is the culmination of specific academic, activist and artistic work I have undertaken to raise awareness of the problem of nuclear power within the context of the climate crisis. The project examines the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and its relationship to Cape Town. It adopts historian Gabrielle Hecht’s notion of ‘nuclearity’ that explores how landscapes, spaces and objects that are/become ‘nuclear’ or are part of the ‘nuclear energy complex’ are often ‘hidden’ from citizens because of their apparent banality. And yet, like the demarcation of emergency accident zones, these spaces, places and objects are in a constant state of potentially ‘becoming’ something inimical to life.

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