The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

"Бездеятельность иногда приводит к катастрофической безрезультатности!" Станислав Ежи Лец ZMEY
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Here are the genre-busting South African creatives drawing attention to one of the most diverse cultural corners of the continent.

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The curator: Khanyisile Mbongwa

    The award-winning artist and sociologist oversaw the inaugural Stellenbosch Triennale earlier this year and defines her role as curing and caring

    What’s the South African scene like at the moment?


    ‘The rise of African biennales, fairs and artist-run spaces has shifted how the global community engages with us. South Africa is positioning itself interestingly via private organisations that serve the public: Norval Foundation and Zeitz MOCAA are among new museum additions, the Maitland Institute and The Centre for the Less Good Idea are artist-driven, while the likes of Investec Cape Town Art Fair are more commercial. But all of this is informed by the backbone of amazing South African artists, such as Sethembile Msezane and Mary Sibande.’

    The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Perpetual Optimism VIII by Mongezi Ncaphayi, shown at the Stellenbosch Triennale

    Mirjam Bleeker

    What part does art play in the conversation on bigger issues?


    ‘I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t reflecting and responding. From the Fifties Drum magazine era to the famous photograph by Sam Nzima of schoolboy Hector Pieterson, killed in the 1976 Sowet uprising; from Thupelo Workshops to Greatmore Studios, which create environments for artists to work together. The material documenting the freedom struggle at Mayibuye Archives; the seminal 2010 exhibition From De Pierneef to Gugulective tracing a century of artistic endeavour; the work of queer and womxn creatives Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi and Zanele Muholi. Art provides us with alternative perspectives and fortifies us.’

    Which emerging talent are you most excited about?


    ‘Those who exhibited in On The Cusp at the Triennale, of course, and twin sisters Noncedo and Nonzuzo Gxekwa – their conceptual and street-style photography seeks to project uthando nobuntu (love and kindness) back to their subject. Also, Asemahle Ntlonti, who magnifies objects to zoom into black people’s lived experiences.’

    ‘IiNyanga Zonyaka (Notes on the Lunar Songbook): Anthi-Patra Ruga’, curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, runs at Norval Foundation until 26 July 2021. stellenboschtriennale.com

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The designer: Sindiso Khumalo

    Sustainable-textile champion, and one of the finalists of the prestigious LVMH Prize, who roots her pieces in powerful, history-conscious storytelling

    How would you describe your label?


    ‘Fashion must do more than just make objects of beaut. We focus on unveiling the lives of women of colour. My most recent collection is based on Sara Forbes Bonetta, a Yoruba princess who was sold into slavery in the mid-1800s and through a twist of fate was freed, taken to England and became a goddaughter to Queen Victoria. It’s an ode to African folk tales, executed in handmade prints. The brand speaks to memory and the past. As a young black woman living with freedoms that were not afforded to my mother and grandmother, I feel a responsibility to tell these stories. We also work with disadvantaged women, partnering with NGOs to help them out of exploitative work and teach them skills such as embroidery and hand quilting. I have a very slow, considered approach to creating, with female empowerment as an anchor.’

    The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Sindiso Khumalo designs

    Mirjam Bleeker

    What other South African creatives do you admire?


    ‘Thebe Magugu, who won the LVMH Prize last year. As a community we were gunning for him – Thebe’s win was our win. Other names include Lukhanyo Mdingi, who debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2019, Rich Mnisi and knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa. I also love Githan Coopoo’s sculptural ceramic jewellery and milliner Crystal Birch – check out her hat shop on Roodehek Street in Cape Town.’

    The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Sindiso Khumalo designs

    Mirjam Bleeker

    Which are your favourite Cape Town shops?


    ‘AKJP is a concept store from creative duo Keith Henning and Jody Paulsen which stocks their own label in addition to 31 South African designers. And Glitterati Vintage Clothing in the Long Street Antique Arcade is packed with pieces from the 1950s to the 80s.’


    sindisokhumalo.com

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The musician: Moonchild Sanelly

    The blue-haired singer has collaborated with Africa Express, the cross-cultural exchange initiated by Damon Albarn, and Beyoncé’s visual album Black is King. Her future ghetto funk and focus on body positivity and female sexual empowerment make her one of the most buzzed-about performers

    What’s music like right now in South Africa?


    ‘It’s all dance dominated. The newest genre is Amapiano, which has followed Gqom, a raw electronic-music style that emerged from Durban, and with it the aim is to flew not sweat. It’s as if producers took Kwaito, a hip-hop-like phenomenon from 15 years ago, and remade it for today. It’s cool, slow and bouncy. Gqom is still there too, of course, its hyped and energetic sound now conquering the world. South Africa is known for producing completely new sounds and inventing whole genres – ask any big dance producer.’

    What tunes do you have on rotation?


    ‘I’m listening to a lot of Yanga Chief – he raps in Xhosa, a Bantu language. Also Sha Sha, who collaborates with DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small with vocals on Amapiano beats. Stiff Pap are an awesome band from Cape Town fusing elements of Kwaito, Gqom, house and hip-hop to create something original, and Darkie Fiction, a Johannesburg duo drawing influences from Kwaito, Afro-funk, neo-soul and hip-hop. Their new EP Endaweni is incredible.’

    Where are your top places to catch live acts?


    ‘Kitcheners in Braamfontein is so vibey and fresh. It kind of looks like a weird old English pub, but the sounds are brand new – an essential put-stop on a night out. And Zone 6 Venue, a huge former warehouse space turned club in Soweto, Johannesburg’s biggest township, is great.’

    Your favourite crowd to play?


    ‘I love festivals. The energy is amazing, and we have so many here: OppiKoppi, Rocking the Daisies… All-women RoseFest is lit. It’s usually beautiful weather that time of year and nothing beats dancing under the sun – I can’t wait to get back out there.’

    Moonchild Sanelly’s new single ‘Bashiri’ (Transgressive Records) and her EP ‘Nudes’ is out now.

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The architect: Sumayya Vally

    Co-founder of all-female practice Counterspace, the youngest ever team commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London, which is now set to open next year

    How would you describe your philosophy?


    ‘We are deeply inspired by Johannesburg, our city – its challenges, opportunities and people, and the lives they live. Our aim is to find and create design languages from and for Africa. I’m particularly interested in issues of identity, migration and territory, and how these translate into form. I approached the Serpentine Pavilion with the same ethos – looking for inspiration in the fabric of the UK capital and the people in it. I also hope to resume other building projects soon, including an arts centre in the Valley of a Thousand Hills and the conversion of an old NG Kerk church into a mosque in the Johannesburg suburb of Brixton.’

    Which are your top Jo’burg places to visit?


    ‘I grew up walking the inner city on Ntemi Piliso and Diagonal Street, where my grandfather’s stores are – the energy, the colours of the fabrics and sounds of the city are still a deep source of inspiration for me.’

    Who and what is exciting you on the creative scene right now?


    ‘Everything about Johannesburg – its rogue systems and practices, the rituals of the people despite immense challenges, the restrictions, which are a call to arms. In terms of artists, I love what Mikhael Subotzky does working across film installation, video, photography, collage and painting. Also Cape Town-based twin brothers Hasan and Husain Essop, and Igshaan Adams, who explores the intersections of personal identity with place, cultural heritage and memory.’

    Any other local tips?


    ‘Circa Gallery, the Kerk Street Mosque and Diagonal Street for the architecture. For shopping, my go-to jewellery brands are Pichulik and Waif, and Ninevites for textiles. Some of my favourite spaces are The Commune, a radical bookstore, café and reference library, and chef Sanza Sandile’s pan-African Yeoville Dinner Club. I also like to watch the sunset from the mine dumps you find around the city.’


    counterspace-studio.com

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The chef: Katlego Mlambo

    As well as heading up Maboneng hotspot The Marabi Club, this kitchen name to watch scooped the coveted Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star award last year and has cooked for Barack Obama

    Tell us about the South African food scene


    ‘It’s booming and evolving – I think a lot of chefs here have realised life is too short to be serving mediocre plats. My own style of cooking is aggressive, with savage flavours. A lot of different things influence me, from music or a movie to the woman who’s selling street food on the corner. I want to change the world one plate at a time.’

    The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Hour braised beef tongue

    Mirjam Bleeker

    What’s your signature dish?


    My 12-hour braised beef tongue with smoked parsnip purée and pickled mustard seeds – I grew up eating tongue and the recipe is very nostalgic for me.’

    Where are some of the country’s best places to eat?


    ‘I’m a fan of La Boqueria in Johannesburg – the tapas selection and cocktails are phenomenal. In Cape Town my go-to is The Potluck Club: delicious food and beautiful views. And Clarke’s on Bree Street has a lush burger that always puts a smile on my face.’

    Any other Johannesburg addresses to know?


    ‘If I’m looking for a late-night hangout after service I’ll head to Sin + Tax bar, Streetbar Named Desire or the 999 rooftop bar at Hallmark House hotel. I’m a big fan of charity shops: Thrift Vintage Clothes, Junkie Charity Store and Reminiscene – it’s crazy how much cool stuff you can get for close to nothing. Or for old school-style fresh gear, one of the many hole-in-the-wall places in Melville. For LPs, you’ll find me in Afrosynth Records and Mr Vinyl.’

    For more pictures of South Africa, keep scrolling.

    Many of these pictures are taken from the book ‘South Africa: A Road Trip’ by Mirjam Bleeker and Frank Visser, published by Luster (about £36; lusterweb.com)

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  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Zebra in Addo Elephant National Park

  • Dunes in Oyster Bay

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Cape Town residence

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Artwork by Frank Visser

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Colourful houses in the former township of Bo-Kaap

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Dokter and Misses furniture store, Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    On the road

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Beachfront, Western Cape

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    An artist’s home in Cape Town

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Mojo Market in Sea Point

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Sneeuberg Nature Reserve

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Calitzdorp building

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The Surf HQ shop in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Pavement café in Vredehoek,Cape Town

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Couvaloup B&B in Hopefield,Western Cape

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The Surf HQ shop, Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Street scene in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Diesel & Crème diner and motel in Barrydale

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Ceramics at Kraaldoring Gallery

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfonteinin Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Cape Town local

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Private home in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Biker in Little Karoo

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Graphically patterned blanket in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Artwork by Frank Visser

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The Owl House museum, Nieu-Bethesda

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Fieldsin Little Karoo

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Freedom Café in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Street mural in Durban

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Interior at The Owl House museum,Nieu-Bethesda

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Folded Skies installation by Counterspace

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Little Karoo„

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Painting by Frank Visser

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Johannesburg city centre

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Pata Pata restaurant, Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Wall display at The Owl House museum,Nieu-Bethesda

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Couvaloup exterior

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The bar at Hallmark House hotel in Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Pata Pata restaurant in Maboneng, Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Wall hanging in a private home in Calitzdorp, Little Karoo

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Private residence in Johannesburg

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    The home of fashion designer Marianne Fassler

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Soweto Theatre, Soweto

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Johannesburg fashion studio

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Picture of Soweto Theatre

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Vilakazi Street, Soweto

  • The coolest places in South Africa right now, according to the next generation of creatives

    Pata Pata restaurant in Johannesburg