2008 //  100 YEAR W[E]AR  JU WISH / BILAMBA MA BE // Jo'burg

2008 // 100 YEAR W[E]AR JU WISH / BILAMBA MA BE // Jo’burg

This residency was and invitation by the Joubert Park Project, supported by the French Insitute in South Africa (IFAS).

A text by Athi Patra Ruga, Dorothée Kreutzfeldt, & Jc Lanquetin about the project.

100 YEAR W[E]AR

JU WISH / BILAMBA MA BE

[Fash Off Competition/Performances/Exhibition]
Curated by Artist in Residence Jean Christophe Lanquetin & Athi-Patra Ruga & Dorothee Kreutzfeldt
It started with people dressing up in Kinshasa…
In January 2007, French artist Jean Christophe Lanquetin
Jean Christophe Lanquetin staged an exhibition of portraits photographed over a period of two years in the streets of Lingwala, Kinshasa (DRC). The images captured the legendary ‘Sapeurs’, documenting a practice that primarily revolves around street fashion and haute couture, the competitive rituals and performance of dressing up. Implicitly, the practice of ‘sape’ raises arguments around ‘body politics’ and its agency: how to claim one’s own, ‘
clean’ and exclusive space in contrast to a disintegrating city and world at large?

‘100 Year War’ is the name of one of the ‘sapeurs’ gangs in Kinshasa and references the extended series of wars that started in France in the 14th Century. The practice of competing in the streets against other groups, such as the ‘Japanese’, to show off the most expensive clothes and ingenious poses, styles and dances, is a highly popular tradition in Kin’. Each ‘sapeur’ challenges the other’s territory, the codes of display, and the resistance and aspiration towards all that ‘Europe’ represents for them – colonialism, globalism, an affluent world of choices.

And in Johannesburg: Continuing with this theme, Lanquetin is collaborating with Joburg designer and artist Athi-Patra on a series of public interventions that aim to explore the local geographies of ‘body politics’, as they are taken up by the Congolese Sapeurs in Yeoville, the Emo-kids and NuKool skool of Melville to Pantsulas and Swankers of Jozi. Over the next two weeks, the artists will post prints of the ‘Sapeurs’ on the walls of the Fashion District, Yeoville, the Zone and the Drill Hall. These interventions lead up to a final event at the Drill Hall, on Wednesday 30 April : an eclectic evening combining performances, screenings about ‘sape’ in Kinshasa and JHB, and a fash-off competition. The two artists are inviting the public, local groups and designers to witness and participate in a BATTLE ruled by fashion and perfomance. The groups will show off their couture and styles to win the first ‘100 Year War Trophy’ [aka The Mshoza’s].
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A series of exhibitions in the city of Johannesburg
In the CBD (Downtown Johannesburg), fashion district area.
In the Zone / Rosebank.
See a video here
With Athi Patra Ruga we visit the Mole in Rosebank, and especially the Zone, a major fashion place in Johannesburg. It is impossible to stick anything, each surface has been occupied and above all, controlled by video cameras and security gards. We could stick the pictures inside the windows stores as they are the only « free » space, but it would turn them into a kind of trash fashion pictures. We decide to parade with the pictures. The Smarteez, a group of young guys and girls from Soweto, which are dressing up (Lolo Veleko did her shootings with them), participate. The only fact we do this with the pictures of the « sapeurs » makes people react and also the security guards.
In Troyeville (a congolese area).
In the CBD, around the Drill Hall for the final event, the fashion show
See the video HERE
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The fashion show 
100 YEAR W[E]AR / JU WISH / BILAMBA MA BE
See the video HERE .
Participants to the competition  Strangelove, The Smarteez, Athi Patra Ruga, Dead Eighties, 4mat & friends, Elu Kieser, a congolese group from Yeoville. MC: …
And Jean Paul Delore, Joseph Gaylard, Carlo Gibson, Mbuso Kagebe, Dorothée Kreutzfeldt, Nontsikelelo Veleko, France, Vuyo & Djoka.
For the event, I’m drawing a very simple space, which is set up around the Drill Hall. The all event and photo exhibition is taking place around the building, just outside. The space is inspired in a parodic way, by the spaces for tv shows, but here it is built with orange plastic nets, currently used in the streets to protect constructions. The fash off is a street event, made with a few tables as podium. Two sceens are showing the pictures and films from the Kinshasa « sapeurs », alternatively with the live competition.
The Smarteez win the price.