Cape Town, South Africa. On a misty morning, the clouds covering Table Mountain, the opportunity arose to visit artist collective, FEDE’s exhibition PROCESS. Welcomed by core members Carol and Lebo who shared their knowledge, depth and past exhibition projects. The collective was founded in 2020 and is challenging the traditional white-cube model of what an exhibition ‘should be’. “FEDE seeks to break down barriers of entry by catering to and creating opportunities for a wider range of people, especially for young, black artists.” PROCESS is an exhibition that gives the viewer insight into the artists’ individual techniques, as well as giving us insight into the emotional history each work carries.
If you find yourself in Cape Town, follow the upcoming projects and events the collective has to offer.
Can you tell us about the collective FEDE?
FEDE is an artist-run nomadic gallery founded in 2020. FEDE’s curatorial practice can be defined as space making, to create alternative exhibition experiences in varying environments – to explore how the functions of spaces of art consumption can be met, and even reinvigorated, through experimental means outside of standard practice.
The people behind FEDE are a collective of art practitioners working in different disciplines including art and design, architecture, film and music. Core members include Lebo Kekana, Nthabiseng Mofokeng and Carol Khaas
What does FEDE mean?
Fede is a term used as an informal greeting in Tsotsitaal, which is a type of street slang or vernacular derived from a variety of mixed languages mainly spoken in the townships of Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
Taking on the name FEDE references a creative energy that exists in the townships we grew up in. Street slang is creative, adaptive and evolves through people’s engagement with and use of it – the same can be said of FEDE. Also, FEDE is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and hopes to exist anywhere in the world, however, the name serves as a signifier of provenance.
Who are some of the artists in the current exhibition?
PROCESS brings together artists – Andile Dyalvane, Abdon Studio, Ketlego Phetlhe, Keith Virgo, Kyle Strydom, Luyanda Zindela, Nkhensani Mkhari, Ntokozo Zwane, Reef Sithole, Shakil Solanki, Talia Ramkilawan, Tony Gum, Xhanti Zwelendaba and yarn makers cowgirlblues – to contemplate the intersections between art and design and space and place.
What is the concept behind the current exhibition PROCESS?
PROCESS is an exhibition that honours time and process, in relation to art-making. The show features work that is process-intensive, or that evokes an appreciation for process through the artists’ chosen technique and approach, or through their consideration and use of medium or material.
There exists a constant pressure and demand for output from artists by the art industry. So, to counteract this and the associated culture of high consumption, it felt important to create an exhibition that gives audiences the chance to step inside the process, to highlight the time and effort artists put into their work before arriving at a final idea, product or artwork. The artists participating in this exhibition each explore very individual and authentic ideas through photography, drawing, painting, ceramics, furniture, installation and textiles. However, there exists a common thread in the form of a heightened sense of consideration paid to the processes employed in their work.
Can you tell us about The Sacred Space?
The Sacred Space, also referred to as “The Earth Room”, is an installation that draws from earth as a creative impetus. It’s a collaborative effort between FEDE and two ceramicists, Andile Dyalvane and Kyle Strydom, to create an immersive experience centred around earth, especially considering how earth (more specifically, clay) is the source of their work. It felt particularly important to situate these two artists, who are at very different stages of their respective careers, in the same room. Strydom is an art student, and Dyalvane is a well-established artist, with work existing in galleries and fairs all over the world. This was an extreme case of an intention that FEDE holds dear – being able to bring together both emerging and established artists to find common ground in the same space.
The installation consists of a room with the entire floor covered in raw ochre, rock and soil, sourced from the same quarry where Strydom sources his clay. In the centre is an arrangement by Dyalvane of several ceramic figures resembling the form of a snake – which is his tribal animal. This centre space represents where he and others communicate with the Ancestors. Dyalvane’s forms behave as a collaborative piece with Strydom’s ceramic candle-holders, which are dispersed across the rest of the room, representing portals to the Ancestral plane.
Owing to the spiritual significance of the work and its presentation, there exists a grounding and calming reverence to the room.
Can you tell us about exhibition Volume 1 and the concept of having it in a home?
The gallery’s full name is FEDE ARTHOUSE. This came from and was the title of our first exhibition, which took place in a rental home. The idea to use a domestic environment came from an effort to ensure comfort and a sense of home for all who visited the space. Gallery and museum spaces are typically known to feel elitist or characterised by a lack of diversity. To counter this, we wanted to create a space that felt inclusive and allowed people to exist as their true selves in order to interact with the space and art as best as possible. Although this first exhibition is the only one to have taken place in a home, the sentiment behind its intention is one we try to have form part of all our exhibitions.
What exciting future projects are you working on?
Our next project seeks to expand upon PROCESS, in the true sense of a process. The next exhibition, EXTENDED PROCESS, opens on the 11th of February in collaboration with Lemkus (a leading retailer in premium sports footwear and apparel in South Africa). This exhibition will coincide with the Investec Cape Town Art Fair.
What are some of your favourite reference points? Favourite artists, books, music?
How has being established in Cape Town, South Africa influenced the work that you do?
Cape Town is arguably the art capital of South Africa. There are many art institutions, and thus many art communities, that exist in the city. The space is a breeding ground for creativity and artistic expression, which allows us to engage with art practice and its exhibition in ways that are experimental and conceptually expansive.
Cape Town, however, has a deeply rooted culture of economic and racial inequality. Art spaces are often inaccessible to communities which are generally underserved. FEDE seeks to break down barriers of entry by catering to and creating opportunities for a wider range of people, especially for young, black artists. This challenge creates an opportunity in that we are encouraged to think about the spaces we create in alternative ways as an effort to make them more inclusive and representative of a diverse set of values, to cater to as many people as possible.
Can you give us three of your favourite spots to visit in Cape Town?
One Park (restaurant and sound bar)