(Mixed medium close-ups of street vendor life by Xolani Qwabe)
Xolani Hopewell Qwabe is an exciting young artist using mixed medium close-ups illustrating street vendor life. His work will be exhibited in the KZNSA’s Mezzanine Gallery with Augmented In The Streets, a body of mixed media work exploring the realities and details of street vendors' lives.
The artist’s statement is as follows:
“My work is inspired by the lives of street vendors in Durban urban spaces.
I investigate how both South Africans and foreign immigrants who move to the city negotiate the norms in attempting to become financially self-sufficient.
In my work I also interrogate the mainstream of how do street hawkers create informal settlements within the city. I go to the inner city to identify and interview the vendors directly as I get a lot different and similar issues on how these people chose to live their lives as street vendors.
My investigation also tells me that, to a large extent, one can perceive street vending as an act of defiance against the city’s authorities who have in some way neglected hawkers by keeping them marginalized.
I am also informed by my own teenage experiences where I had to support myself as I was raised by a domestic worker single parent. Most of these street vendors are supporting their large families and paying school fees for their children with the little that they make in the streets, resulting from unemployment in this country.
Most job advertisements in the newspapers state that you have to “have experience before you get a job of your qualification”. Some of these street hawkers have Degrees and Diplomas but they cannot get employed and they ended up in the streets business rather than choosing crime which I personally find a positive path.
Street vendors can be identified as icons of the city since they are everywhere, forming a large part of the pulse of the city. My investigation of these issues is enacted through the construction and the use of a mixed mediums. The creation and maintenance of my work can be understood as one large artwork, made up of many parts, each of which focuses on different aspects of the street vendor’s life.”
Augmented In The Streets runs in the KZNSA from April 11 to 30 alongside the KZN Clay Vessels exhibition. Walkabouts of both exhibitions take place on April 15 at 10h00.
The KZNSA Gallery is situated at 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, in Durban. More information on 031 277 1705, fax 031 201 8051 or cell 082 220 0368 or visit www.kznsagallery.co.za