THE Athenaeum, Numb
City Productions and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) School of
Music, Art and Design presented The Trinity Session’s survey exhibition and
public space intervention in Port Elizabeth, Central and Grahamstown during the
National Arts Festival last week which featured a segment on the diaspora food
experience in suburb of Central.
‘Eat Central’ proved a unique
concept that encouraged “citizen art” through an invitation to students from
the NMMU School of Art and Design, and other keen participants, to venture
through the streets of Central.
The evening chose itself.
With the sundown setting a warm glow, the occasion was met with an unexpectedly
warm winter night.
It all began with an
invitation to students from the NMMU School of Art and Design, and other keen
participants, to venture through the streets of Central. These visitors were
challenged to seek a vendor of their choice, who could offer them a taste of
African foods within the CBD, enjoy an exotic meal and shoot video footage of
They were also encouraged to
engage in conversation with the owners enquiring as to how the food was made
and what it meant to them culturally back home. This experience was envisioned to
bridge a gap between foreign nationals in the community of Central and ordinary
local South Africans living in Port Elizabeth.
The video footage collected was
edited and screened to guests at the recently revamped Trinder Square Park on Bird
Street on the opening night of the Trinity Session “Temporary but Permanent”
exhibition at the nearby Athenaeum.
If you have ever passed a
foreign national restaurant in Central, the air brews with an unfamiliar aroma
that is often unappreciated. The Eat Central screening bestowed on its audience
an appreciation of what delights are actually prepared in these small shops and
of the magic carpet taste experience would-be journeymen can enjoy.
Hosting the screening at
Trinder Park offered a sense of inviting warmth to the occasion, and what a
great setting that was. It gave one a different perspective of the park and of
the potential such communal spaces have in the city. Considering the common
local perception, many wouldn’t expect to see Trinder Square look so beautiful.
Its transformation into an artistic hub - in its final stages of metamorphosis
– has brought out its true character and made it into what it always was
supposed to be.
Described in the words of
audience member Kay Swarts:
“It was wonderful seeing how
one can use the concept of food and how various cultures prepare their food, as
a way of art. The projection was used effectively, instead of the artists
printing pictures or giving a long presentation. One could relax and sit back
while everything was shown to you. The atmosphere was great, and the
presentation of the Ethiopian food was something different. I felt that it was
a good way to expose us to the food of the people of Central.”
It was exciting for the
Athenaeum and Numb City Productions to share in the experience.
-- By Sibo Sontsonga