WDR, LONG WALK broadcast
first broadcast: 9 October 2009, Studio Akustische Kunst WDR 3 Cologne
re-broadcast by Kunstradio Austria, May 2010
——————————————-A dedicated archive page with resources & background information on the LONG WALK radio drama can be found here : “Listen! Babylon!”
Soziale Soundscapes aus Südafrika
Von Claudia Wegener/ Radio Continental Drift Mit Angela Großmann
Seit 2005 entwickelt Claudia Wegener in Südafrika ungewöhnliche Projekte an den Schnittstellen von politischer Aktion und Medienkunst. 2006 bat sie Passanten jeweils einen Satz aus Nelson Mandelas Autobiografie „A Long Walk to Freedom“ spontan in ihre Muttersprachen und Dialekte zu übersetzen. Für „Radio Armed Response“ stellte sie den Bewohnern der Vorstädte Johannesburgs über Gegensprechanlagen sokratische Fragen zur „inneren Sicherheit“. In „Durban Sings“, ihrem aktuellen Projekt, bildet sie in sozialen Brennpunkten Netzwerke für Bürgerjournalismus, Internetkunst und Oral History. Das Aufnahmegerät ist ihr ständiger Begleiter. Im Hörbild „Long Walk“ zieht Wegener die akustische Quersumme ihrer „dramatic field recordings“ aus Südafrika.
Claudia Wegener wurde in Hamm geboren, studierte Kunst in Münster und London und lehrt an der Camberwell University of the Arts in London. Sie definiert sich als „Zuhörerin“ und „Künstlerin mit Tasche“. Ihre „Street Writings“ und Originaltonarbeiten werden international publiziert und unter dem Projektnamen “Radio Continental Drift” gesendet.
Realisation: die Autorin
Produktion: WDR 2009/ca. 50’ DOWNLOAD Redaktion: Markus Heuger Die Sendung steht nach der Ausstrahlung befristet zum kostenlosen Download im Internet.
a Radio Play produced by radio continental drift
01 nights of departure (6:27′)
02 terminal history (4:48′)
03 zooming into jozi via alex (11:26′)
04 here and overseas (8:05′)
05 inside the belly (5:07′)
06 Azania (9:22′)
07 finale alla parade (5:31)
credits/ Rollen und Darsteller :
(in the order of appearance)
DENNIS BRUTUS, poet narrator
MARIA FISCH, archivist narrator
JOE MURANGI, Herero commentator
MICHAEL ASBURY, “radio continental drift” jingle
PATRICIA KYUNGU, Sophia-town interpreter
numerous RESIDENT NARRATORS, dogs, bells and electric wires in Deepcluff and Sandton (on or off intercom)
numerous TRANSLATORS IN TRANSIT at Jozi’s Park Station, the JAG, Wits Campus and Alexandra Township (reciting from Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom”, abridged edition)
PITSO CHINZIMA, Jozi narrator in the car
FAITH DANIELS, SAfm presenter
WATU KOBESE, SA chess champion
WILLIAM KENTRIDGE, Jozi narrator on the fence in the park
JOHN FLEETWOOD, photographer, Jozi commentator on the fence
ALFRED KUMALO and DAVID, Joubert Park photographers
GEORGE SHIRE, Brixton narrator 1
NADINE GORDIMER, interpreter English, in ‘my father’ (04)
TERRY MAC, Brixton narrator 2 (reciting LKJ’s poem “Making History”)
SOLOMON and various Brixton sound systems
DIANA HYSLOP and ANDREW THABANGU, interpreters in ‘my cell’ (06)
CHARLOS FUENTES, interpreter Spanish, in ‘the science of boxing’ (06)
MATSHEPO MOTSOENENG, Dideridou
STEVEN NKWANA and STEVEN SKOZANA, Joubert Park chess players
JACKIE NGUBENI, commentator SA chess
PAUL STIGLING, Riverlee Park chess player
ANDROA MINDRE KOLO, praise speech on LONG WALK tournament (07)
VUYO and MAJESTY, poetry performance at the LONG WALK tournament
the women of the ANTI-PRIVATISATION-FORUM (struggle songs)
clips from AMADOU SANGARE dit BARI (“l’Histoire de Moussa Tchefari Pere de Sabally 1”)
clips from the album “WAY BACK”
clip of song “Tell the world my story”
jingle “RADIO FREEDOM”
clips from SAfm interview on LONG WALK tournament (18 Nov. 2005)
clip of church congregation on Jozi train recorded by MANDISA M. LEDWABA
special thanks to:
Dennis Brutus (for his poem “Memory”), all the producers of the DURBAN SINGS Project and researchers at the Centre for Civil Society in Durban where this radio drama was edited in September 2009; and in Jozi to:
the Market Photo Workshop, Joubert Park Photographers, Joubert Park Chess Players, Johannesburg Art Gallery, SAfm, Joburg City Parks, the Chess Academy, and the Bag Factory Artist Studios;
the British Council and TrAIN research unit at the University of the Arts in London for travel grants in 2005 and 2008.
acknowledgements of previously published editions:
– “Long Walk (abridged)” was commissioned and first broadcast by the RADIA network and Resonance fm in London in February 2007;
– “Radio Armed Response” was commissioned by the Goethe Institut Johannesburg and first broadcast on Resonance fm in April 2007; a recent edition was commissioned by vibrofiles.com and published by Double Entendre in the “Plastic People Issue” in spring 2009;
– “In the Belly of the Beast” (recordings with George Shire in Brixton Market) were made for the No-Go-Zones audio radio project and published by Double Entendre on the “Influence100” DVD in May 2008.
TEXTS for LONG WALK
questions two minutes:
interview between Angela Grossmann, presenter at the ‘Studio Acoustic Arts’ WDR 3 Cologne, and Claudia Wegener, radio continental drift:
Angela Grossmann (WDR): in comparison with those of your colleagues who visit far away countries and their exotic sound-scapes with their microphone to create in result something beautifully abstract, not involving themselves any further in a local situation nor with the people, your approach seems rather unusual. how would you describe it? as development-aid? activism? documentation? what brought you to South Africa in the first place? and why do you prefer working with a microphone rather than, say, a camera?
radio continental drift (RCD): a microphone lends itself to record the entire space between me and you while we are talking. a camera is more likely to shoot in one direction. the camera man – the man behind the lens – can choose to remain in his ‘proper’ place and pull the strings. a microphone makes space for two-way challenge – which you and i may accept, or decline. my work is listening and moves with it. and listening is, i think, already activism.
(WDR): it seems to me that LONG WALK is not a monolith but a complex (living) organism of audio works; which projects, which themes and methods have come to be part of it?
(RCD): LONG WALK is a radio drama (”listening play”), which speaks and sings of Africa ‘s liberation struggle. its audio-images are alive because that struggle continues. most of the footage originates from my first stay in Johannesburg in 2005/06. its present frame and form developed here and now, in Durban 2009, alongside the on-going work of the DURBAN SINGS project. in the earlier projects, LONG WALK, LONG WALK (abridged) and Radio Armed Response, the microphone is mostly in my hand. in the future, and in a follow-up radio play, this will no longer be the case.
(WDR): is LONG WALK for you a final account? or interim statement, or a reflection of your years in South Africa ? In the piece, there is apart from your own voice also again and again an isolated German female voice. Is the perspective of this woman like the ‘red thread’ in the piece, a line joining the dots?
(RCD): you may call it ‘ Africa ‘ or ‘Radio’ what’s joining the dots in the LONG WALK. it’s one. Africa radiates stories and histories. even though the camera men of ‘History’ don’t want nor wanted to permit it. in the DURBAN SINGS project, we are developing together with 50 young people how it could be realized that the orators, story-tellers and artists in Africa will take all means into their own hands, including recent technology. on-line, it is already now free for anyone who’d like to listen to hear how it sounds when Africa today is ‘writing its own history’ (quote from Lumumba in the piece). Our site on-line: www.durbansings.wordpress.com
Thank You for Listening!
—————————————————————————-drei fragen zwei minuten
interview mit Angela Grossmann, Moderatorin im ‘Studios Akustische Kunst’ WDR 3 Koeln und Claudia Wegener, radio continental drift:
Angela Grossmann (WDR): Verglichen mit ihren Kollegen, die mit dem Mikrophon kurzfristig ferne Länder mit exotischen Klanglandschaften besuchen und daraus etwas formschönes Abstraktes kreieren, sich aber nicht weiter mit der Situation (der Menschen) vor Ort befassen, ist ihre Haltung eher ungewöhnlich. Wie würden Sie sie beschreiben? Als Entwicklungshilfe? Agitation? Dokumentation? Was hat sie überhaupt nach Südafrika geführt? Und warum arbeiten sie lieber mit dem Mikrophon als zum Beispiel mit einer Kamera? (bitte max. 0:30)
radio continental drift (RCD): ein microphon eignet sich dazu den gesamten zwischenraum zwischen mir und dir waerend wir sprechen aufzuzeichnen. eine kamera schiesst eher in eine richtung. der kameramann kann sich aus dem bild heraus- und die faeden in der hand halten. ein microphon oeffnet einen raum fuer gegenseitige herausforderung, der du und ich folgen koennen. oder auch nicht. meine arbeit folgt dem zuhoeren. und zuhoeren ist, denke ich, schon agitation.
WDR: “Long Walk” ist – scheint mir – kein Monolith sondern ein komplexer (lebendiger) Organismus von Hörstücken, welche Projekte, welche Themen und Methoden habe dort Eingang gefunden? (bitte max. 1:00)
RCD: LONK WALK ist ein hoerspiel, das vom freiheitskampf Africas spricht und singt. seine hoerbilder sind lebendig weil der kampf nicht zu ende ist. das footage material stammt zum grossen teil von meinem ersten aufenthalt in Johannesburg in 2005/06. die fassung die es nun in Durban in 2009 gefunden hat ist hier und jetzt mit meiner derzeitingen arbeit am DURBAN SINGS project gewachsen. in den projecten LONG WALK, LONG WALK (abridged) und Radio Armed Response habe ich noch das microphon in der hand. in der zukunft – und im folgenden hoerspiel wird das nicht mehr so sein.
WDR: Ist Long Walk für sie ein Schlussstrich? Eine Zwischenbilanz oder eine Reflexion ihrer Jahre in Südafrika? Man hört neben ihrer eigenen immer wieder eine vereinzelte deutsche Frauenstimme. Ist die Perspektive dieser Frau der rote Faden? (bitte max. 0’30)
RCD: den roten faden im LONG WALK kann man ‘afrika’ oder auch ‘radio’ nennen. das bleibt sich gleich. Africa strahlt geschichten aus. auch wenn die camera manner der sogenannte “Geschichte” es Africa nicht zugestehen wollen und wollten. im DURBAN SINGS project entwickeln wir zusammen mit 50 jungen leuten, wie es verwirklicht werden kann, dass die sprecher, erzaeler und kuenstlers Africas alle mittle, auch zeitgenoessische technology, in die eigenen haende nehmen koennen. im internet kann schon jetzt jeder der es moechte zuhoeren wie es klingt wenn Africa heute “seine eigene geschichte schreibt” (Zitate Lumumba im Stueck): unsere seite im netz: www.durbansings.wordpress.com
Danke fuers Zuhoeren!
Listener Review by Finnish audio artist Sirpa Jokinen
Listening to your sound pieces makes me think how important the sound of someone’s own voice is to understand what this person is saying and what he is about. There are so many TV documents about the situation in Africa where a reporter explains it all and behind his back you can see some African people.
Listening to your sound pieces makes me imagine the scenery and situation, the voices of the people are warm colours, and the rhythms between the talking are the soul of the people. I enjoy listening even if I ‘m not really hearing what they are saying. I’m more picturing the spaces according to the acoustics and what one can hear in the background.
Sounds like there is some kind of big white wall and a fence to separate something or to stop some people from going to some place but then, at the same time, there are these groups of people that are shouting together or talking in rhythm with each other, closely united in their message. In Finland it is very rare to hear people shout together like that, or make music, make sounds together in that close unison. Everyone is too concerned about one’s own individuality to want to melt into the crowd. The only time it is done, is when people are drunk, but then it does not sound nice anymore.
The works also remind me of an exhibition that was in Finland last spring. It was a group exhibition of four artists whose work had political and cultural exploration connotations. I wrote a review of this show, maybe you know some of the artists.http://www.mustekala.info/node/1061
There are much to hear, I need to listen more, thanks for sending these sounds to me.
by Khwezi Gule, curator contemporartry arts, Johannesburg Art Gallery
Anyone driving in Johannesburg or any of the major cities in South Africa will come know how easily even the smallest infringement can drive someone lese into a fit of rage.
Whereas in other countries this may be a case of simple aggression or territorial behaviour or even just tress, I would argue that in Mzansi (the South Africa) this phenomenon has a lot to do with its past and present politics.
It was the artist David Koloane who said that Apartheid was, more than anything else, about space. The word Apartheid itself, of course, denoting spatial segregation – being apart. Fifteen years after legislated segregation was abolished the ‘Laager mentality’ still pervades much of our social interactions. A laager was a half-moon formation of ox-wagons that was used during the epic Groot Trek in the 19th century by Afrikaaners as they trekked from the Cape Colony to the Southern African interior to seek better prospects away from British control.
The laager was meant not only to keep at bay wild animals but also what the Afrikaaners perceived as hostile native Black tribes. On a more subtle level the laager ensured group cohesion amongst the Afrikaaners themselves. It is easy then to see how the idea of a laager is such an apt metaphor for a tendency towards unquestioning group solidarity, towards suspicion of outsiders and toward violent reaction towards anything that threatens this ideological and spatial unity even if its based on a false sense of security.
In today’s cities however, of advanced capitalism the conceptual space of the laager has shrunk to the dimensions of the ubiquitous automobile and the suburban home. In a car one is constantly having to negotiate ones way round other road-users which includes bus drivers, pedestrians, taxi-drivers, trucks. A less sympathetic way of putting it would be to say that one is constantly having to colonise bits of asphalt with missionary zeal.
I have not merely used the term missionary for effect because when drivers feel that they have been wronged it is not only that the other driver has committed an error in judgement but that they have taken something away that is my inalienable right and that they did so maliciously. Hence the wounded driver feels that the only appropriate response is righteous indignation.
The other dimension to this is of course racial dynamics. Just as there were racially designated schools, municipal services, walkways, park benches, toilets, beaches, residential areas and job reservations there were also racially designated forms of transport. In the dark days of Apartheid, for the most part, cars were for whites, buses were for the poorer whites, trains and taxis were for the Blacks.
In the late 80’s as more and more Black people sought to escapes rural poverty and head for the townships and shantytowns the taxi industry experienced an unprecedented boom. Taxi owners switched from sedans to mini-buses. The Toyota Hi-Ace being the favoured make for its agility, carrying capacity (its was a 15-seater) which is important in a market where every passenger counts and of course replacement parts were cheaply available and easy to install.
Suddenly the Black throngs who had been kept at bay by various forms of legislation, including the pass laws and influx control, arrived in white areas with a big bang and the taxis that ferried them back and forth was the symbol of this urban decay and loss of control. If I can use the go back to the laager analogy again the hostile blacks work-seekers were the new threat to white pristine suburbs and shopping areas.
To make matters worse the Black people were no longer cowering and apologetic and were walking freely and confidently around the city and taking up residency there as well. The horror of it! This “problem’ was provisionally solved when the wealthier strata of the white population moved to newer suburbs and shopping malls, something that South Africa had not seen until the 1990’s. The roads then remained the frontline on which these contests over territory are staged.
If you think I may be overplaying the racial dynamics of this fight over asphalt turf you only need to be in within earshot of one of the drivers to hear the racial slurs that drivers regularly hurl at each other.
In South Africa (and this is not that we are different from other countries but that this is the only country I can speak about with any degree of certainty) most social relations are conditioned by race and some of the unfinished business of the past.
Spatial organisation and re-organisation of our cities bears not only the hallmark of capital flows but also of racial proclivity. Add to that mix the constant mutual suspicion, paranoia, and the trauma of Apartheid and persistent violent crime, a radically disproportionate divide between wealth and poverty and you have all the ingredients of an explosive situation.
In such an environment symbolic gestures may seem rather quaint and benign. Real and physical breaking down of spatial and physical boundaries is needed. On the other hand as, my little tour through South Africa’s tortured psyche hopefully demonstrates, people’s behaviours are much harder to change than it is to change legislation and spatial re-design. So symbolic acts are of communion across both physical and ideological divides are not entirely without potency. At the very least they have the power to strip bare the unspoken dichotomies of society and to take a well-aimed jab at the cold heart of policy-makers.
As such the intervention staged by Claudia in the form of a chess game across the fence that lies between the largely Black Joubert Park and the enclave of white privilege that is the Johannesburg Art Gallery, was an act that symbolically and temporarily disrupted the laagerisation of culture.
For a moment there was a glimpse (and we have had a number of such glimpses) of how intractable differences could be contested in a different way to the kind we often see on our roads. The issue of roads and of culture are not merely a nice analogy to use but lie at the very heart of the ongoing contests over space that are staged every single day outside the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
You see, like many art institutions, the Johannesburg art Gallery finds itself in the middle of a vast transport hub that includes busses, trains and minibus taxis. Hence all of its patrons from the northern suburbs have to negotiate or force their way through a throbbing mass bodies and traffic to get to the island of ‘high’ culture that is the JAG. In the many complaints of the visitors to the galleries about the traffic situation are, what I detect, as unspoken wishes for the genteel past where Blacks knew their place.
The contradiction here, of course, is that whereas in other parts of the world such a location would represent a boon for a museum or institution of culture, here in South Africa, it represents a problem. This is in part due to the fact that the throbbing masses out there are not part of “us” and we have little or no interest in understanding what their idea of culture is.
Fortunately, there are also signs that there are people who are prepared to play by the rules that seem to have been prescribed by elitism. This comes in the form of the most unlikely suspects. First, the park photographers who regularly bring their customers to have their portraits taken next to the sculptures in the courtyard; secondly, it comes in the form of bored school kids who come to the gallery not so much to look at the art (which they also do) but more as a vast fantasy land with very strange-looking objects where they can immerse themselves for an hour or two.
Again, these may not be conscious acts of reclaiming space but they represent ways in which contests over terrain can be staged without the acrimony that is so very much at the surface of our national culture.
Perhaps with some visionary leadership, a little good faith as shown by the park photographers, Claudia and the kids, added to a radical spatial and urban de-laagerisation there might be hope for a transformative cultural sphere and on a large scale a more viable basis for a society that is no longer haunted by the trauma of the past and the privation of the present.