In the Worx
Skorrplap is a South African word whose origins are 'skuur + lap', Afrikaans for 'scouring + cloth'. The usage of this loanword is across all our local Bantu languages, and is quotidian. The skorrplap is the bête noir of the black household- as though captured and enslaved, hidden under the sink or behind the basin, why do we do this?
And yet the skorrplap is an icon, like the bottom feeder. When other rags fall out of favour, they fall to the ground, where they cannot get lower, and there they live until they fray away.
In this chapbook, I compare the skorrplap to its pristine counterpart, the fatuku originally vaat doek (the surface, kitchen cloth) and invite the audience to interact with the imagery through a quiz, to distinguish the skorrplap from other mistakable cloths like the waslap (the washing rag), by looking at its context and applying the new knowledge with which I will provide it.
I thank the original compiler and illustrator of this cultural iceberg for structuring what I already knew but need reminding of. Many of the elements below the surface, I could not attribute to a cause, in instances where I would perceive a culture gap. This diagram has furnished me with vocabulary. My chapbook will look at concepts of cleanliness and rules of conduct, splicing them with my own experiences living with a partner of a different culture. It is my partner in fact who came up with the génial anecdote "Once a skorrplap always a skorrplap'', signalling his understanding of this unassuming cultural object and spurring me to let irreverent humour lead this reflective topic.
Commenced Feb 2022, project in progress.
Mix of media through collaboration with printmaker MINENKULU NGOYI
Minenkulu Ngoyi b.1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa, graduated from Artist Proof Studio in 2011 and now practices as a full-time artist and printmaker at DGI studio at Arts on Main, Johannesburg.
He has been involved in several group exhibitions nationally and internationally with museums, galleries, and art fairs such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Wits Art Museum, Luigi Di Sarro and Latitudes Art Fair, to name a few.
His art questions, challenges, and ridicules colonialism. By bringing to light past wrongs and creating a space for renewed dialogue.
Ngoyi employs words, symbols, and icons of popular media, as well as historical references in his distinctive compositions. His artistic practice incorporates both screen printing and engraving techniques.
Ngoyi also co-founded Alphabet Zoo - a Johannesburg based street-culture zine collective that invites collaboration with artists from across all disciplines.
I left Myanmar at the end of April 2021, after having lived there for more than 6 years, because of the military coup. My happy, immersed life in Myanmar allowed for my gaze, unrushed, to fall and settle. This made for some of my finest work to emerge. Not only do I want to showcase my honest and distinct visual delivery with this book, but I want to show the many fascinating ways Myanmar can be, depending on how you look. I suppose this can be said for any place but I was and still am emotionally invested. My once gaping emotional wound is scarring over and closing up, from the comfort of my initial temporary resettlement in breezy, unthreatening Chiang Mai. Now I am in back in my hometown megacity of Johannesburg. The people of Myanmar however, weather fresh physical and psychological injury and affliction, with death befalling some directly because of war.
I am looking for a publisher for my book. In addition, I am looking for someone to contribute a meaningful foreword.
In the book I would like to comment, with a degree of irony, on the defunct notion of national character with regards to the aesthetic composition of the pictured environment; as well as to examine the style of my photography: is it vernacular or art or both? Somehow Myanmar feels like a fiction, and the heartwarming, offbeat quality I loved about it and that I captured in my photos translates now as eerie and sad. It's as though, through framing, I made up the world in which the pictures were taken.
It would be remiss of me of leave out my unique position as an observer from a country whose exemplary long-lived resistance against a regime continues to be cited and drawn upon for inspiration. My growing up in the rebuilding of a fragmented society has meant that I have witnessed pecularities in Myanmar that existed in my own environment of transformation. My observation of Myanmar comes from a place of solidarity- I am neither western nor white, not male nor old. In Myanmar life, I was a participant and not a savior.
I would like to invite academics who would like to partake in this book, as well as an editor who can bring coherence to my ideas.
Below is a sample of the imagery, I am looking at including 150 original images.
Not much of the project has moved, it is probably that I am not in Myanmar or around people who understand the cause. While shocking new developments as of 2024 include conscription of anyone over 17 and under 35, it is also common knowledge that the Myanmar army is objectively failing. I hope 2025 is the year I am able to return to visit beloved friends and while there, photograph what changes are visible.
My objective remains: I am looking for a publisher for my book.
• • •
Message me here