kagablog

April 29, 2017

Helgé Janssen

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 8:57 pm

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Photographer: Gerald Botha (Stella Nova Studios, Kloof, KZN)

Model, make-up, innovator, designer and construction of garment: Helge Janssen.

May 11, 2016

GO! PLAY!

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 10:33 am

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first published here: http://durban.getitonline.co.za/2016/05/10/go-play/#.VzJEA3BNJJM

January 8, 2016

Shayne Leith and Helgé Janssen, Rumours, Durban 1982

Filed under: helgé janssen,kagaportraits — ABRAXAS @ 10:44 pm

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July 20, 2015

helgé janssen reviews decolonising wits

Filed under: 2015 - Decolonising WITS,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 10:05 pm

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illustration by eva spook

first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=38361

June 22, 2015

helgé janssen vs. the department of education kwazulu natal

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 2:43 pm

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May 27, 2015

helgé janssen reviews the cedric nunn exhibition

Filed under: helgé janssen,photography,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 10:07 am

Screen shot 2015-05-27 at 10.05.45 AMScreen shot 2015-05-27 at 10.05.32 AM

first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=38053

May 17, 2015

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Filed under: helgé janssen,politics — ABRAXAS @ 10:07 pm

Margie Burns

At the age of 21, Sophie Scholl was executed by the People’s Court in Germany on Feb. 22, 1943, during the Holocaust, for her involvement in The White Rose, an organization that was secretly writing pamphlets calling for the end of the war and strongly denouncing the inhuman acts of the Nazis.

In May, 1942 German troops were on the battlefields of Russia and North Africa, while students at the University of Munich attended salons sharing their love of medicine, Theology, and philosophy and their aversion to the Nazi regime. Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, and Sophie Scholl were at the center of this group of friends.

Attending the same university were two medical students, Willi Graf and Jurgen Wittgenstein, who had served in a military hospital in 1939, with Hans, Sophie’s older brother. Along with Christoph Probst, a married soldier and father of three, they eventually joined The White Rose.

Sophie Scholl was born on May 9, 1921, in Forchtenberg am Kocher, where her father Robert Scholl, was mayor. At 12 Sophie joined the Hitler Youth, but became disillusioned. The arrest of her father for referring to Hitler as ”God’s Scourge,” to an employee, left a strong impression on her.

To the Scholl family loyalty meant obeying the dictates of the heart. ”What I want for you is to live in uprightness and freedom of spirit, no matter how difficult that proves to be,” her father told the family.

When the mass deportation of Jews began in 1942, Sophie, Hans, Alexander and Jurgen realized it was time for action. They bought a typewriter and a duplicating machine and Hans and Alex wrote the first leaflet with the heading: Leaflets of The White Rose, which said:

”Nothing is so unworthy of a nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by a clique that has yielded to base instinct…Western civilization must defend itself against fascism and offer passive resistance, before the nation’s last young man has given his blood on some battlefield.”

Members of The White Rose worked day and night in secrecy, producing thousands of leaflets, mailed from undetectable locations in Germany, to scholars and medics. Sophie bought stamps and paper at different places, to divert attention from their activities.

In 1933 Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. Many Germans who were uncomfortable with the anti-Semitic ranting of the Nazi party, appreciated Hitler’s ability to bolster pride in a shamed nation.

The second White Rose leaflet stated: ”Since the conquest of Poland 300,000 Jews have been murdered, a crime against human dignity…Germans encourage fascist criminals if no chord within them cries out at the sight of such deeds. An end in terror is preferable to terror without end.”

Sophie’s brother Hans spent two years in the military, studied medicine at the University of Munich, and was a medic at the Eastern front with Alex, Willi and Jurgen in 1942.

Jurgen transported stacks of pamphlets to Berlin. The journey was dangerous, ”Trains were crawling with military police. If you were a civilian and couldn’t prove you’d been deferred, you were taken away immediately,” he recalled.

No one in the United States can comprehend what it is to live under absolute dictatorship. The party controlled the news media, police, armed forces, judiciary system, communications, education, cultural and religious institutions.

The third leaflet demanded: ”Sabotage in armament plants, newspapers, public ceremonies, and of the National Socialist Party…Convince the lower classes of the senselessness of continuing the war; where we face spiritual enslavement at the hands of National Socialists.”

The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 had demanded expulsion of anyone who was not Aryan, declaring Jews as non-citizens. The international press had begun to report beatings in the streets, so Hitler moved the arena of cruelty away from cities to concentration camps.

On November 9, 1938, 30,000 Jews were beaten and arrested, and Storm Troops burned 191 synagogues on Kristallnacht, ”the night for the broken windows,” causing 200,000 Jews to flee to the countryside.

When Alexander Schmorell was asked to swear an oath to Hitler, he asked to be discharged from the army. Willi Graf turned to passive resistance like the rest, after serving as a medical orderly in Yugoslavia. He was assigned to the Second Student’s Company in Munich, where he met Sophie, Hans, Alexander, Christoph, and Jurgen.

Christoph Probst was the only member of the White Rose who was married with children, so the others tried to protect him. In the fourth leaflet they wrote: ”I ask you as a Christian whether you hesitate in hope that someone else will raise his arm in your defense?…For Hitler and his followers no punishment is commensurate with their crimes.”

After the German defeat at Stalingrad, in 1943, and Roosevelt’s demand for unconditional surrender for the Axis powers, an Allied invasion was weeks away. That night, Hans, Willi, and Alex painted ”Freedom” and ”Down with Hitler,” and drew crossed-out swastikas on buildings in Munich.

Their philosophy professor, Kurt Huber, was shocked when he learned of the state-organized atrocities committed in Germany, and he worked on the final White Rose leaflets. He was also motivated to lecture on forbidden subjects, such as the writings of the Jewish philosopher Spinoza.

Each leaflet was more critical of Hitler and the German people than the last. The fifth mentioned: ”Hitler is leading the German people into the abyss. Blindly they follow their seducers into ruin…Are we to be forever a nation which is hated and rejected by all mankind?.”

The Gestapo had been looking for the pamphlets’ authors as soon as the first ones appeared. As the language in the leaflets became more inflammatory they stepped up their efforts. They arrested people at the slightest hint of suspicion.

Sophie and Hans brought a suitcase of the final leaflets, written by Professor Huber, to the University, and left them in corridors for the students to discover and read.

Jakob Schmidt, University handyman and Nazi party member, saw Hans and Sophie with the leaflets and reported them. They were taken into Gestapo custody. Sophie’s ‘interrogation’ was so cruel, she appeared in court with a broken leg.

On Feb 22, 1943, Sophie, Hans and Christoph were condemned to death by the ‘People’s’ Court, which had been created by the National Socialist Party to eliminate Hitler’s enemies.

Hans Scholl’s last words shouted from the guillotine were, ”Long live freedom!” In an unprecedented action by the guards, Christoph Probst was allowed a few moments alone with Hans and Sophie before they went to their deaths. After months of Gestapo interrogations to obtain the names of his co-conspirators, Willi was executed. His final thoughts were: ”They shall continue what we have begun.”

Alexander Schmorell was arrested in an air raid shelter and executed at Munich Stadelheim. Kurt Huber became one of the defendants at the trial of the People’s Court against the White Rose. Survivors remember Huber’s last words, an affirmation of humaneness.

Jurgen Wittenstein was interrogated by the Gestapo, but they couldn’t prove his involvement so they let him go. He got himself transferred to the front, beyond Nazi control and was the only one to survive. After the war, he relocated to the United States, became a doctor and received an award from the Government of West Germany for his bravery.

”How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause,” Sophie said. ”Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go,” she continued, ”but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

”The White Rose is a radiant page in the annals of the 20th Century. The courage to swim against the stream of public opinion, even when doing so was equated with treason, and the conviction that death is not too great a price to pay for following the whisperings of the conscience,” writes Chris Zimmerman in The White Rose: Its Legacy and Challenge.

Two hundred German schools are named for the Scholls, and politicians such as former New York Mayor David Dinkins invoke their names, and visit their graves. With the rise of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and violence against foreigners in Germany, the anniversary of the executions is a powerful reminder.

Sophie Scholls sister Inge Aicher-Scoll wrote: ”Perhaps genuine heroism lies in deciding to stubbornly defend the everyday things, the mundane and the immediate.”
Bibliography

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, by Jud Newborn.
Oneworld Publlications, Oxford, 2006.
www.JudNewborn.com
They Died to Defeat the Reich
by Gabriella Gruder-Poni
New York Times – June 12, 1993
A View From Within The White Rose
German Life – May 31, 1997
The Story of a Rose: The Remarkable Life of Sohie Scholl
by Elizabeth Applebaum
Baltimore Jewish Times – November 24, 1995
The White Rose: It’s Legacy and Challenge
By Chris Zimmerman
www.bruderhof.com
Rescuers – Germany during WWII

April 21, 2015

earthshattering

Filed under: art,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 8:56 am

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Title: Earthshattering

medium: oil on canvas

size: 460mm X 610mm

March 19, 2015

maxine

Filed under: art,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 12:44 pm

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February 5, 2015

helgé janssen on the disaster of the south african education system

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 2:26 pm

In 2007, the ONLY person with whom I shared the most intimate moments of my life for eight years (Brain Vincent de Kock) was killed in a horrific motorbike accident. I have spent the last eight years writing a novel of these times set against the decline of our Education system: I returned to teaching in 1997 and it struck me that the classroom was the ‘coal-face of change’ and I felt intensely privileged to be in this space during this time. Bearing in mind that in 1997 there was a strong sense of euphoria in education….and I was dealing with a generation of South Africans that had, for the first time in their lives, access to a quality education. Yet by 2001 things began to get hectic. Changes that swept through grade 8 and 9 Natural Science syllabus were disastrous where content became a dirty word: it was all about process. For eg. it was not WHAT the graph depicted it was the UNDERSTANDING of the graph that was important. Not a single educator at any of the workshops understood this concept. There were no standardised textbooks for any of the years that I taught Natural Science. As a result the CASS assessment tasks were meant to be set so as not to favour any one school. Many schools could not complete the tasks causing the assessments to be meaningless. Initially, the over zealous Education Department in Natural Science created assessments that took about an hour to mark a single script – and with 300 Grade 9’s? Compare that with other subjects like Home Economics (for eg.) that took about 5 minutes to mark! The irony of those same children needing CONTENT for the Matric exam escaped them completely. Changes that swept through grade 10 to 12 Life Science syllabi were mostly phenomenal and headed in the right direction but were too fast, too uncoordinated, badly delivered. Adding to the confusion, between 2006 to 2009 Biology was changed to Life Science and the syllabus was changed three times. And, by introducing Evolution and Environmental studies (two fantastic moves which represented half the year’s work) the Education department blithely ignored the fact that they had just rendered all Life Science educators under qualified. What this says about the Education Departments contempt for educators is alarming – without so much as a murmur from the press or parents. To me, this was the REAL reason why the pass mark was lowered: Educators had to get up to speed while floundering with new content…….and a high failure rate would have made them (the Ed. Dept.) look like idiots.

Stepping into a matric classroom in May 2009 (after 3 ½ years at a deaf school) was a shocker of note. That coalface had become one-dimensional, immature, unknowledgeable. I was facing a form of xenophobia and began to believe that the pupils thought they had stumbled upon the very person who had master-minded apartheid. Malema was in full cry taking private spats with the white right into the public arena. There was constant pandemonium in the school: learners wondering around corridors during lessons free to interrupt at will, strikes, sit-ins by pupils and parents to have the headmaster re-instated. He was suspended pending an investigation regarding him caning a pupil. These strikes and sit-ins were arranged by the ‘illegitimate’ GB. Added to this it was utterly impossible to have a class discussion on evolution, to discuss the dynamic of abortion being seen as a method of birth control, to discuss the effects that alcohol and drugs have on the nervous and muscular system….all standard discussion topics…..to mention but a few! And, if you realise that discussion is a time to exercise knowledge, broaden one’s perspective and plumb some ‘commonaltiy’ of perception, you may get some idea of how dysfunctional that school was.

January 31, 2015

helgé janssen answers six questions about art in south africa after marikana

Filed under: art,helgé janssen,politics,six questions — ABRAXAS @ 4:22 pm

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1. Do you think art can be didactic in a good way?

Perhaps being/becoming didactical could be seen as the artist’s (those that try to make a real difference at any rate) last stand without becoming fascist? I think the left has failed because it has shied away from a fascists’ determined energy.

Animal Farm springs to mind.

However, I am at a point now where I am seeing that the suppression of art globally (through any channels – parents, teachers, governments, religions, mainstream media) has been entirely and supremely successful. In spite a plethora of anti war art/films/novels/poems/plays/dances/documentaries/photographs/articles/exposures etc etc etc WAR still proliferates, the warmongers still have willing fodder, fascism constantly morphs into a new guise. Capitalism continues to be the modus aperandi. How did we end up with these shameful world leaders? We have no leaders of conscience. The one’s that have get taken out.

Thomas Sankara springs to mind.

The left has not learnt to recognise the underlying immutable truths of fascism, or if they do, the message is suppressed. Incredibly dark forces are determined to befuddle logical thinking, rational deductions, and sound values.

This has lead me to the conclusion that no matter what political machinations humans are presented with, we are all at different stages of consciousness and hence perception. Without knowledge, information, mankind is manipulable. The majority of people do not know how to make their own decisions and the ballot box has effectively been reduced to an illusion of ownership. Being able to discern a lie from the truth seems to be impossible to learn in a society that has been conditioned to abdicate their responsibility of thinking for themselves. The primary role of ALL education should be about addressing these issues. We have regressed and education has failed the free world.

It is a vicious cycle……

There is sufficient proof in history that man (collectively) cannot learn from his mistakes, has failed to remember the past in any constructive way. This is either a built-in trait of humanity…..or humanity has become so punch drunk with mind manipulation, relentless financial onslaught that binds them to the grindstone, that they have become willing participants of their own destruction. Nobody in any effective political position seems able to learn that violence breeds violence. Politicians get into power and then seek revenge. Deeply negative traits of human nature constantly triumph….

Perhaps this is all very simple really: the world is overpopulated.

While there is evidence (?) via FB that the world is waking up, how much of that is just a smoke screen to make the left think ‘something is happening’ whereas in fact its business as usual? I don’t think we should ignore this aspect. I am thinking of those memes where we see “Happening in New York right now!” and we see an image of 1000’s of people marching through the streets? If these things were true, why do we not see EFFECTIVE CHANGE? Look at the hypocrisy of “je suis Charlie”.

I think it is beyond the 11th hour.

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2. What is this need to document? Of what use is it?

I think that the NEED to document is driven by a creative urge to make sense of, to ‘order’, to understand aspects of ones existence. To extract the light from the dark. I think it is a fallacy in psychological terms to say that light BANISHES the dark.

The mere act of thought (stemming from self knowledge) and writing it down becomes revolutionary.

Documenting is a statement against invisibility.

Documenting is participatory, an affirmation.

As a child, all my creative endeavours were given no credit to the extent that I was ‘frowned upon’. My father was mostly absent and my mother gave absolutely no encouragement. I suppose I can blame them for me becoming ‘multi-talented’ as no matter in what direction (singing, making dolls dresses, creating a ‘nature book’, making up plays, getting high marks at school) my creative endeavours unfolded, they were simply not impressed…..hence I kept exploring. I therefore took my creativity for granted (which I still do) and generally need to galvanize myself into creation. I always face an inner panic. In that sense I am a reluctant artist/performer/creator. Strangely, I feel this has helped me survive apartheid – where my drive to create was not matched with a drive for recognition. In 1998 my solo play The Come-Uppance of Punch came up against a total onslaught at the Grahamstown Festival.

Even with ‘Faces’ and my 15 year career as an ‘alternative’ dj I have very little, if any, personal photographs of that time. All the photographs I have (for example) are those that were given to me.

Of the Body of Despondent Artists (1984-87) the photography (mostly by Peter Hart-Davis and Andrew Yates) was done for press release, rather than for the purpose of documentation. It never struck me that any of this should be ‘documented’.

However, I kept diaries for many years – from around 1980 up to 2000 at which time I acquired a computer. I thus had a lot of material for the writing of my five plays – three with the Body of Despondent Artists: I HAVE NO! (1984), MASTERS OF CEREMONY (1985), DARK CORNERS OF A NEW MIND (1986). And then of course my two solo plays BLOOD (1988 -1990) and THE COME-UPPANCE OF PUNCH (1995-1999). Today I cannot read those diaries – they are filled with utter pain, excessive compulsive repetitions, insanity.

I have only recently acquired some photographs of my parents and I do not have a single photograph of my maternal grandmother who parented us (sister and brother) over a five-year period. I have very little knowledge of my maternal and paternal grandparents. Males did not feature in my family set-up. I have very little sense of ‘ancestry’ via conventional family ties. Given that my fellow black South Africans in particular live THROUGH ancestry I struggle to understand the import of ancestry to one’s existence. I feel that IF I have any ancestry it is the link through other artists. I respect my parents deeply, but they were totally dysfunctional as parents.

I was immensely disturbed by the apartheid mindset to the point of a manic and morbidly obsessive interest and had little idea at the time of the universality of my understanding (and hence depiction) of fascism. Looking back at those times (and particularly since writing Tell Tale – Pine Slopes Publications 2005 ISBN 978-0-9584874-1-2) I have realised I was psychically out of control and painting/writing/djing/fashion prevented me from spinning out completely. My oil painting “Beyond Good and Evil” is a particular example of this depiction/survival: an attempt to gain distance and rationality from the turmoil and the ever conjoined dynamic of the ‘opposites’ merry-go-round.

It was from 1990 that I felt a need to begin documentation of my performances and thus have videos of my solo play BLOOD filmed at the Natal Playhouse, a fashion show at 330 (1992) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogkT67B34Fs&spfreload=10)

and the ‘Come Uppance of Punch’ filmed at the Bat Centre 1999 amongst others.

In 2007, the ONLY person with whom I shared the most intimate moments of my life for eight years (Brain Vincent de Kock) was killed in a horrific motorbike accident. I have spent the last eight years writing a novel of these times set against the decline of our Education system: I returned to teaching in 1997 and it struck me that the classroom was the ‘coal-face of change’ and I felt intensely privileged to be in this space during this time. Bearing in mind that in 1997 there was a strong sense of euphoria in education….and I was dealing with a generation of South Africans that had, for the first time in their lives, access to a quality education. Yet by 2001 things began to get hectic. Changes that swept through grade 8 and 9 Natural Science syllabus were disastrous where content became a dirty word: it was all about process. For eg. it was not WHAT the graph depicted it was the UNDERSTANDING of the graph that was important. Not a single educator at any of the workshops understood this concept. There were no standardised textbooks for any of the years that I taught Natural Science. As a result the CASS assessment tasks were meant to be set so as not to favour any one school. Many schools could not complete the tasks causing the assessments to be meaningless. Initially, the over zealous Education Department in Natural Science created assessments that took about an hour to mark a single script – and with 300 Grade 9’s? Compare that with other subjects like Home Economics (for eg.) that took about 5 minutes to mark! The irony of those same children needing CONTENT for the Matric exam escaped them completely. Changes that swept through grade 10 to 12 Life Science syllabi were mostly phenomenal and headed in the right direction but were too fast, too uncoordinated, badly delivered. Adding to the confusion, between 2006 to 2009 Biology was changed to Life Science and the syllabus was changed three times. And, by introducing Evolution and Environmental studies (two fantastic moves which represented half the year’s work) the Education department blithely ignored the fact that they had just rendered all Life Science educators under qualified. What this says about the Education Departments contempt for educators is alarming – without so much as a murmur from the press or parents. To me, this was the REAL reason why the pass mark was lowered: Educators had to get up to speed while floundering with new content…….and a high failure rate would have made them (the Ed. Dept.) look like idiots.

Stepping into a matric classroom in May 2009 (after 3 ½ years at a deaf school) was a shocker of note. That coalface had become one-dimensional, immature, unknowledgeable. I was facing a form of xenophobia and began to believe that the pupils thought they had stumbled upon the very person who had master-minded apartheid. Malema was in full cry taking private spats with the white right into the public arena. There was constant pandemonium in the school: learners wondering around corridors during lessons free to interrupt at will, strikes, sit-ins by pupils and parents to have the headmaster re-instated. He was suspended pending an investigation regarding him caning a pupil. These strikes and sit-ins were arranged by the ‘illegitimate’ GB. Added to this it was utterly impossible to have a class discussion on evolution, to discuss the dynamic of abortion being seen as a method of birth control, to discuss the effects that alcohol and drugs have on the nervous and muscular system….all standard discussion topics…..to mention but a few! And, if you realise that discussion is a time to exercise knowledge, broaden one’s perspective and plumb some ‘commonaltiy’ of perception, you may get some idea of how dysfunctional that school was.

Attempts to document the court procedure (2010 to the present) of ‘unfair dismissal’ from the Ed. Dept. has become a major 5-year ‘installation’ artwork. I found support structures ineffective, out of touch and dismissive. I have had to constantly wade through mounds of paternalistic presumptive attitudes and formulative responses from presumably intelligent people. No lawyer was able to engage contextually with the matter at hand. I had to laugh when, three weeks before my court date (19th November 2014 – the judge ruled that my case be sent back for arbitration!) I had a two-hour interview with a top Durban advocate (who was white, by the way). I told him that I found that the notion of CONSEQUENCE to be a virtually non-existent concept amongst lawyers when he said, not without some pique: “The legal system is about consequence.” In spite of an extremely positive meeting, three days later he backed off from this case.

The court papers, all of which have been done by myself, serves as a LEGAL account of this insanity. This procedure has pushed me beyond the limits of endurance. I have had to look to Mandela’s statement: “It is you who must take the defence of your rights, your aspirations in your own hands.” – and to take control of my understanding of the constitution. Mandela’s message has become alarmingly cryptic in the light of the bizarre twists and the perturbing failure of leadership in the ANC. I have been driven by the fact that I would not die in peace if I did not follow through with this abuse until justice has been served. While this procedure has been understandably fraught, it has been empowering….and I am supremely happy with this work. The more I researched, the more I delved, the more ‘truths’ came to light. I am currently awaiting a second arbitration hearing and I have already been subjected to collusion in this new setting. The impunity is shattering…..and seemingly endless.

I would like to add that I feel that change has dragged out so because people do not/have not taken personal responsibility for change and have absolved themselves through a collective amnesia and collective bargaining which has smothered the real issues we as a nation need to face.

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3. Can art be a means of historical elucidation, an apparatus for constructing truth?

My paintings/plays/writings are a direct application of this statement. ‘Art’ has to be an apparatus for constructing truth: it has no choice. But, as in my opening statement, it has struck me that art has been successfully suppressed by the corporate states globally. We have become blinded by the big bling billboard. The Ray Bans on Cape Towns Waterfront? We are also at an extremely dangerous juncture in terms of global mind control and manipulation. The vilification of Muslims which began almost forty years ago and which has gone unchecked, has lead to the ardent drone annihilation of the Palestinians and the bizarre wars in the Middle East.

And, since the demise of apartheid, I constantly encounter the vilification of the LIBERAL where there is a determination to confuse liberals with closet racists. It is all coming very close to home.

If there is ONE immutable truth that apartheid has taught me it is t his:

“A lie is a lie,

no matter how much you try

and look at it with fresh eyes.”

What does this mean? Apartheid was premised on a lie. The Apartheid Regime bent over backwards trying to prove the lie to be NOT A LIE and all they did was poke more holes into their own façade. It is bizarre, now, 20 years later to even have to say this!

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4. Is South Africa a productive field for art today? In what way? How would you describe the art scene here?

There is creativity taking place in SA today……inevitably so….but very little of it is taking place in mainstream circles.

Twenty years into our new dispensation silly people with silly agendas are still muddling to control art. The art market (as in any country I suppose) is determined by curators who need to make money out of artists. This has lead art astray and has undermined the deeper power (in the short term at least) of what art is about.

The art scene hence lacks risk and is thus anything but vibrant. There is a huge lack of viable critics who carry any effective weight in their perception of art i.e. the gap between artists and public is a gaping chasm.

In Durban in particular I am seeing too much predictability when it comes to people getting ‘important’ appointments where they have no sense of the past, let alone the present, let alone a ‘radar’ for what is needed. They might have once HAD a radar: but that radar has become tainted with compromise of the wrong sort. They are simply being paid to maintain the status quo within the realm of appearing new and different.

Instead there is a DEEP sense of everything that is OPPOSED to art: amnesia, selective memories, closed circles, ideological miss-wiring….middlemen muddling the way…..

Political events seem to pointing me in the direction of once more becoming a ‘performance terrorist’….of which the image of the RED BULL 1983-2005 (representing the blindness and fear mongering of apartheid) and the APARTHEID DEMON (1988 – 1998) have become the most iconic.

Art has proven that it is too dangerous to be left in the hands of artists.

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5. What is the role of music in film?

Music to film is like walls to architecture.

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6. What can art tell us about Marikana? What can art do with Marikana? With “democracy’ after Marikana?

I think your film “Night is coming” – a threnody for the victims of Marikana, expertly answers all aspects of this question and for which I wrote the following review:

http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=35297

What has struck me most deeply these last 20 years is that for democracy to function there is a desperate need for people to be well informed, open minded, able to debate, to be transparent so that you are not driven by a need to hide information, to be honest and not corrupt, to not be threatened by differing view-points. How did the ANC get this so wrong?

I don’t think anybody understood the concept of democracy. The first thing the ANC should have done was set up task teams knowledgeable in the hands-on functionality (i.e. import) of democracy and these should have been sent to schools to educate educators, to pupils, to parents in an onslaught of dissemination, consistently, over a five year period. Instead all we had were (for eg.) seminars on ‘conflict management’…..and a misguided/mishandled policy to get ‘old school’ educators to remove themselves from the system by taking huge severance packages laughing all the way to the bank. Who thinks these things up? Well it’s way too late now to be bothered!

October 25, 2014

a message from helgé to braxi

Filed under: caelan,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 8:55 am

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June 17, 2014

helgé janssen reviews taylor rain is dirty girl in “velvet”

Filed under: helgé janssen,kaganof short films — ABRAXAS @ 8:54 pm

0Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 8.49.44 PM

first published here: http://dyehard-press.blogspot.com/2008/08/aryan-kaganofs-velvet-helge-janssen.html

June 8, 2014

threatening?

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 5:54 pm

Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 5.54.55 PM

May 21, 2014

night is coming: a threnody for the victims of marikana

Filed under: 2014 - Marikana Symphony,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 10:37 pm

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 10.36.30 PM

April 28, 2014

helgé janssen reviews night is coming – a threnody for the victims of marikana

Filed under: 2014 - Marikana Symphony,helgé janssen,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 9:11 pm

Marikana reminder0

first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=35297

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March 29, 2014

helgé janssen reviews the vuvuzela murders

Filed under: 2013 - the vuvuzela murders,helgé janssen,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 9:29 am

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first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=35146

March 28, 2014

Mindscapes and Mindfulness – Lee Scott Hempson

Filed under: art,helgé janssen,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 7:18 am

reviewed by Helge Janssen

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Helgé Janssen: Lee’s latest work brings contemporary art up to speed, while being revisionist in its execution.

Amongst a collection of individual works (one of which is an outstanding self-portrait) are six sets of celebratory triptychs, paying homage to growth, transformation and realisation. This triumph of consciousness is no mean feat.

Lee Scott is a lecturer in the Fashion and Textile programme at the Durban University of Technology where she teaches drawing and illustration, printing technologies and supervises post graduate students. This has informed her interest in contemporary culture, which has infused her art.

Lee’s ability to look at the past (be it personal or impersonal) and to glean what is valuable, and to hence develop her strengths, is what sets her on a unique and integrated artistic path. Her work is not just about technique: it is about engagement beyond the self into a perceived collective experience. This ‘perceived experience’ is experiential and unashamedly subjective but that subjectivity has been processed through the artist’s intuitive grasp of current political affairs, the evolution of female emancipation, the process of healing the wounded psyche of our apartheid past, giving credence to psychological perceptions and transformations – all of which resonate within the collective unconscious.

I last encountered Lee’s work at her “daily narratives” exhibition held at the DUT Art Gallery (2012). Here the vital point was the realisation that when people tell their story – prompted by pictographic cards which are used as triggers – and that they are being heard – they become humans with less anxiety; they become individuals as opposed to being swamped by perceptions of bland categorisations which is always dangerous in an unaware/uneducated political context. In telling their story, people become people via shared emotions: pain, laughter, trauma, victories. That exhibition formed a vital link in the understanding of the continuing transition from post-apartheid trauma to a mature democracy.

Lee’s latest work, her references and symbolism, cover a vast array of histories, evolutions, growths and, essentially, incorporations! Lee’s intrigue with life-as-her-guide, accompanied by an expansive consciousness does not allow her to see change as threat but rather as growth and stimulus – would our general population please follow suit?

I have always been in awe of Lee’s ability to dress (layer) her work. Rather than just be satisfied with painterly technique, she has constructed her paintings via an influence of ‘installation’ (construction, design, placing, cut-outs, anarchic combinations reminiscent of the Dadaists and famously popularised by William S. Burroughs) while at the same time giving expression within her radar for ‘instillation’ (focus, compassion, thoughtfulness, integrity). This ‘assemblage’ and ‘remix’ invites the viewer into her expansive narrative and hence her articulation or current influences. Lee’s work is thus firmly framed (forgive the pun for Lee *mostly* eschews the frame) within a socio/political context.

For me, the pièce de résistance of this exhibition and is a break-through work, is “Divided”: while the space between the two silhouettes (strongly resonating with the burgeoning EFF?) creates the wholeness of the image, that image is an image which speaks of many things: the necessary fusion of black and white, while still being divided; the need for space to create the whole; how we (South Africans) are all part of an intricate puzzle: that the puzzle need not mean the need for a perfect fit, but rather a willingness to associate; through this association there is meaning i.e. the whole image takes shape… and I could go on… and is possibly a message to the EFF to please get it right?

I am fascinated at Lee’s use of shadow in particular. Some paintings have a shadow painted on them (the black outline) and the silhouette of the cut out creates a shadow on the gallery wall. This ‘double shadow’ thus gives a subliminal prod to the ever-present ‘double consciousness’ that Lee speaks of in her ‘artist statement’ release notes. The one consciousness is dealing with array of everyday functional matters, and the other is the artists consciousness that expands into her rich imagery.

This latest showing at ArtSpace, Umgeni Road, Durban entitled “Fusion: Routes and Roots” is thus a must see exhibition and is not to be missed by any person interested in the development and contribution that Durban artists are making to the national art scene.

Helgé Janssen
Multimedia performance artist and freelance Journalist
holydadasnake@gmail.com
084 764 0794
https://www.facebook.com/helgejanssenmultimedia

first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=35011

February 3, 2014

warning – artists at large

Filed under: art,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 4:09 pm

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December 25, 2013

some insight into mind manipulation

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 8:57 am

This is how the nefarious aims of mind manipulation work: remember you read it HERE first

1. Start out with a statement that is undeniably (most likely) true i.e. most people know it and accept it.

2. Follow this with a SEEMINGLY LOGICAL statement which is ‘probably true’ (but certainly not false) and is thus LINKED to the first statement.

3. Follow this statement with the LIE you are hoping people will swallow.

4. End with a conclusion which affirms your LIE.

Most people will swallow it because they assume that the logic, which they unthinkingly have accepted, follows a rational (and thinking person’s) perspective.

Nobody (or only a very few) has the time to stop and rationally unpick the statement and hence to expose it for the nonsense that it actually is…Inline image 1

November 15, 2013

helgé Janssen reviews an inconsolable memory

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first published here: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=34323

November 14, 2013

Helgé Olle Jassen is an Artist with SouthAfricanArtists.com based in South Africa.

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 12:56 pm

This is a self portrait 09/05/13

I had a novel published 2005 by Pine Slopes Publications called “TELL TALE” ISBN 0-9684874-1-3. This novel deals with the ‘alternative (music) scene of the ’80’s and ’90’s. TELL TALE has just been republished as an e-book: lulu.com/spotlight/ll3322. Get YOUR copy today and READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Art was not an option for study at High School. During my Biology teacher training, drawing those microscopic details began to stir something within my creative urge. However, I only began painting when I later studied fine art at PMB University. During this year there were disagreements with some of my lecturers. I then left for Europe on a one way ticket! HUGE changes occurred in my ‘psyche’ during my travels. However travelling made me realise how ‘African’ I was and I returned to South Africa at the end of 1975.

Back in this country, I had a driving need to transform my “European experiences” into a particularly South African CONTEXT and began to pursue whatever creative opportunity presented itself to me. There were absolutely NO formal structures in place that could meet my needs, so I subsequently formed my own dance groups, or worked entirely on my own. My novel has documented much of what life was like during this time. It is a mixture of docu-reality and histro-practicality, the deeply personal and the utterly insane!

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I have written and performed in 5 “avant-garde” plays. In 1984 I founded an avant-garde performance group (together with Gisele Turner, Gisele Stafford, David Mulvey, Peter Hart-Davis, Simon Stengel) called the Body of Despondent Artists and we were active as a group until David’s departure for Ireland in 1987. Joining the group in performance and/or creative energy/classes were Collen Castelijn (Seer in ‘I Have No!’), Ruby Bogaard (Dark Corners of a New Mind), Andrew Yates (photography), Aryan Kaganof (Ian Kirkhof), Rosemary Jones (Through a Lens),Ilse Biel, Mikhail Peppas, Andre Oosthuizen, Jessica Ramsden, Eldon Swallow. I gave classes free of charge, directed, made costumes and masks for the group, choreographed, experimented with performance/dance styles. This was a period of INTENSE growth and experimentation and research into theatrical techniques. I subsequently pursued a solo career performing in two self penned plays “BLOOD” (1988 – 90) and “The Come-Uppance of Punch” (1995 first performed at the Windybrow Festival, then 1998 and ’99 Bat Centre). “Punch” featured a prologue and epilogue based on the NEMESIS archetype written by Eldon Swallow.

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I spearheaded the ‘alternative’ music scene through the ’80’s and mid ’90’s (15 years) djing in various clubs in Durban (starting out at Rumours which eventually became Faces) under the title of “PLAY”. I introduced fashion shows, performances into the night club scene. People dressed up and fantasized with their garments on a weekly basis, without having to resort to quick fix solutions by hiring costumes. I produced a fanzine entitled “Facet” in which the focus and direction of the ‘alternative movement’ had a ‘voice’. The criteria was essentially non racist, non homophobic, non sexist. I, together with BODA, became a member of the ECC in 1985.

Between ’82 and ’88 in particular, the club was a target of the security forces, where harassment and police raids were the order of the day. These were extremely trying times to put it mildly!

I see my paintings as PSYCHEreal or SUPRAreal as opposed to surreal.

I have been influenced by JUNG – particularly with the discovery of various ARCHETYPE IMAGES which have recurred in my paintings. I was a member of the Jungian Society and attended regular monthly lectures/meetings/workshops under the guidance of Gloria Gearing. This was indeed a privilege. My work has been concerned with the PSYCHIC state of apartheid (with specific reference to the ‘collective unconscious’) and the ravages of this UNSUSTAINABLE political/social/cultural state. These paintings therefore represent a particularly dark phase of South African history from a completely unique perception, and serves as a telling document of the time.
I have not painted since 1996.

I re-entered the teaching profession in 1997. Looking back now in 2013, all I can say is that I have learnt much. In 2009, experiences at a High School in the Umbilo area have left me devastated. Malema was in full cry! I stepped into a ‘pocket of insanity’. The turmoil within the school was unprecedented. I was given classes to teach where a teacher already existed in that post – Grade 10, 11 and 12 Life Science – the post advertised in the press. I found the teaching situation within the school untenable. At least one teacher that I know of was caning pupils. The Headmaster was suspended pending an investigation, so the GB, parents, some teachers and eventually the learners held sit-ins and strikes to have him re-instated. To my knowledge there is no workable POLICY either via the Ed. Dept. or via the UNIONS to address Educator concerns. The Headmaster had offered me a permanent post. After six months of daily abuse my sanity was about to collapse and I was placed on sick leave. I refused to return to that school and submitted reasons to relevant authorities. The headmaster ‘invoked’ a ‘fixed term contract’ to have me dismissed, yet this contract is NON EXISTENT!! I had an arbitration hearing. The ELRC issued TWO AWARDS! ONE in my favour, and (15 minutes later via fax) one in their favour….without informing me. I discovered this wonderful adjustment to justice three weeks later when I enquired as to why I had not been paid! I have taken the matter to the Labour Courts. The Ed. Dept. have failed to prove that I was on a fixed term contract. In fact they printed out a contract in May of 2010 claiming that I had not signed it and that was why it was not in my files! However, they forgot that the computer printout was DATED and that the ‘contract’ had my UPDATED salary scale! Legal procedure in this country is criminal in itself. No wonder so many criminals get away with their crimes as many people cannot be bothered to report them. These experiences with the Ed. Dpt. (who should have stepped in a long long time ago) simply emphasises their sad state of affairs, and the contempt with which they treat their employees.

UPDATE: The lawyer who has taken up my case 9 months ago has been joined by another lawyer. It is truly a blessing to have found such considerate individuals, working on contingency. My faith in human nature and in the ‘long arm of the law’ has been given a huge boost! We had a very positive meeting last week. And now, another 9 months later? Still no nearer a court date. The oponents are pulling every trick in the book to delay, delay, delay! Draw your own conclusions!

My latest art project – a 48:48 minute documentary on Americana songstress Jaspar Lepak – has been rejected by Encounters Documentary Film Festival in CT. I am currently preparing for a retrospective exhibition opening 15th June at Chilliplum Bistro 3 Abrey Road, Kloof. The Bistro is not open Saturdays or Sundays. However, I will be giving a walkabout this coming Saturday 29 June 11:30 for 12 noon. On view will be a selection of paintings between 1983 and 1991, fashion garments, hand made fabric wallets (which I currently sell at Shongweni Farmer’s Market on Saturdays (weather permitting), and a series of slogans called ‘Shooting from the hip’. The exhibition will close on 19th July 2013. Good news: this exhibition was reviewed by Aryan Kaganof (artist, film maker, poet, novelist) and was published in the September issue of ART SA! Yay! :-)

October 24, 2013

journey to the self: an intimate portrait of jaspar lepak

Filed under: helgé janssen,music,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 1:06 pm

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Journey To The Self: an intimate portrait of jaspar lepak is helgé janssen’s astonishing portrait of a singer-songwriter whose life provides an apt metonym for our times. Her exquisitely beautiful voice plangently declares that “all of this violence we witness to women is the shame that we carry for bearing the fruit”, situating misogyny in the crucible of judeo-christian theosophy. Lepak talks about “the sense of loss of growing up in a religion where the pronoun is masculine” and humbly states, “this world wasn’t made for such sensitive things” (as women). “I’m tired of violence being entertainment” she is not ashamed to declare and watching this labour of love that is indeed intimately filmed by janssen, on the same day, as i did, as i watched the ghastly new isaac mutant video, kak stirvy (dookoom), i couldn’t help thinking how utterly lost this country is.

Lepak’s world is a realm outside of the machinations of the marketplace; “i’m still trying to figure out how to be in the world”. Unfortunately the world as it is is not a place any sensitive person would choose to be in/ But we don’t have a choice do we? Janssen made a choice the moment he heard Lepak’s voice at a live concert, he chose to follow her rigorously, filming gigs, recording sessions, soundchecks and, most presciently, a series of intimate conversations with the singer that make you feel like you’re sitting next to her and she’s talking to you for the first time about subjects that are of grave import to her, that are necessary. How she overcame her shyness, “the voice really got stuck inside”, and found her singing voice is a section of the film that will grab you by the throat and have you swallowing back tears and the descriptions of her fight to battle an eating disorder cannot but bring to mind the tragedy of karen carpenter and her battle against anorexia nervosa. “Hunger is a voice that needs to be listened to.” Indeed.

Journey to the self is a film that needs to be seen.

aryan kaganof

contact Helgé Janssen for your copy : holydadasnake@gmail.com

October 21, 2013

helgé janssen on the fringe of…art?

Filed under: art,helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 7:17 pm

In the ‘80’s fringe events were the measure whereby the apartheid state stood accountable for their ongoing selective inbreeding of an enforced culture. It sent the cultural minders into a frenzy of existential fear: the fringe had to be stopped. The Body of Despondent Artists stands as testament to their folly….and the treatment meeted out to me with my solo production “The Come-Uppance of Punch” in 1999 at the Grhmstwn Fstvl by the organisers bares shocking testament to their determination to silence me. As myopic as they ever were and ever will be, they failed to see how important the fringe was to the ‘credibility’ of their mainstream events – the fringe created a vibrant dynamic against which the mainstream could draw its energy and value…or (as in the apartheid case) its lack of value.

I credit the grhmstwn fstvl for singlehandedly destroying avant garde theatre in this country (for e.g.)

And, like polution in our environment, if you create poison to discredit the very thing that creates life, you set yourself up to reap those rewards: hence your observation: fringe events have been reduced to being ineffectual (isolated) and by so doing the art world has devalued itself.

I saw the death coming in 1996 when I spoke to a group of art tech students who were thinking they were being very daring by holding exhibitions in rooms of houses yet would never for one minute question the established system for fear that they would get nowhere in the art world itself. And yet, looking back, I see none of them anywhere anyway. But the poison remains, and sadly, our cultural minders have proven themselves as weak and in the dark when it comes to matters of cultural conscience/importance.

It is not possible to have a vibrant art world when it self righteously predetermines what is or is not art based on narrow minded criteria. In the same way you cannot create a culture of human rights if those human rights are only applicable to some people and not all.

We (the artists) continue to do what we need to do.

October 1, 2013

Filed under: helgé janssen — ABRAXAS @ 1:50 am

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