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04
DEC
7am

Painting the other, painting the self — considering Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil and Irma Stern in South Africa

Part of the Joburg Contemporary Art Foundation’s mandate is offering viewers ‘a considered engagement with art’, and in this, ‘Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South’ succeeds.
There are only three paintings on view in Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South – one by each artist – and it’s all the exhibition requires. For the Joburg Contemporary Art Foundation’s (JCAF’s) final instalment in its three-year series around woman artists in the Global South, the preamble is as important as the artwork itself.
Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil and Irma Stern were all successful painters in their own right, working in different parts of the world and with different ways of configuring and making sense of their own modernity. Here, their use of portraiture as a tool for reconfiguring identity becomes the central curatorial thread.
As the exhibition text reminds us, Kahlo was born in Mexico City to an immigrant German father and a Spanish-Mexican indigenous mother, Sher-Gil was born in Budapest to an aristocratic Sikh Indian father and a Hungarian-Jewish mother, and Stern was born in Schweizer-Reneke (in the then Transvaal) to immigrant German-Jewish parents.
These complexities of place, class and identity both frame and animate the exhibition. Entering the space, three different scenes occupy whole walls, each one a vital site for the artists. The paintings in the Ajanta Caves of Maharashtra are said to have been a huge source of inspiration for Sher-Gil, while Kahlo would have walked in the shadows of the looming Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico on her way to school. Elizabethville (now Lubumbashi) is the geographical marker for Stern, who would have visited the city on one of her solo trips to the Congo.
But for all of their scale, and with their grand evocations of place, the black and white images lack the emotional charge found in the other sections of the exhibition.
Identity Formation is the second part of the exhibition. Here, a number of objects, personal effects, reproduced items and archival images relating to the artists’ early careers and interests are on display.
The footage of the artists seems almost like snippets from home videos — a candid shot of Sher-Gil reaching out to an elephant, Kahlo sitting outside of The Blue House (where she would produce the painting included in this exhibition), and Stern working away at her garden-republic home and studio, The Firs, in Cape Town.
Charged with anecdotal history
Reproduced items like diaries or ...
02
DEC
3pm

Grytviken, where a polar hero’s remains rest amid an ecosystem in recovery

Revered polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s grave on the island of South Georgia is luring hundreds more tourists since the discovery in March this year of his sunken ship, Endurance, in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. But the hero’s final resting place is also a stark reminder of man’s cruel indifference to our natural world.
Light snow is falling as we trudge up the hill to the small, fenced graveyard at Grytviken, South Georgia, where Ernest Shackleton lies buried. The sky is the colour of Pinotage, the tussock grass slippery as we follow a route that zigzags over muddy bog and around slumbering fur seals.
We’re thrilled to see these fat, doe-eyed sea mammals because during the late 19th and early 20th centuries they, like whales, were hunted almost to extinction. Since the whaling industry’s collapse here in the mid-1960s (there were too few whales left to hunt), seal numbers have recovered to an estimated four to six million and many hundreds now make Grytviken their home.
It strikes me as woeful that Shackleton should be buried here: an extraordinary hero with a deep love for this wild region laid to rest where thousands of animals were butchered with little care for the impact their decline had on the ecology of our seas. But we know that South Georgia played an almost mythological role in Shackleton’s Endurance expedition and the island was very dear to him. His wife determined that his body should lie at Grytviken.
Shackleton’s rough stone monument lies top left of the cemetery, engraved with a line from this Robert Browning poem: “I hold that a man should strive to his uttermost for his life’s set prize.” Though he never did reach the South Pole, Shackleton is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest polar explorers, celebrated for his leadership style, his courage and tenacity, and his charisma. He died of a heart attack shortly before attempting his fourth journey to the Pole.
Alongside Shackleton’s grave is a stone plaque set in the grass. It covers the spot where the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton’s Endurance expedition second-in-command, are buried. Wild participated in five Antarctic expeditions and died in Klerksdorp, South Africa, in 1939 but it took him more than 70 years to join his compatriot. His ashes lay forgotten in a vault at Braamfontein Cemetery until discovered in 2011 by a historian and, in accordance with Wild’s deathbed wish, were finally laid to ...
02
DEC
3pm

A free video-based learning app to get new skills

With sky-rocketing youth unemployment rates plaguing South Africa and the continent at large, some companies are working toward solutions. TRACE Academia, a new video-based learning app, is aimed at empowering the youth population, providing them with tangible skills and connecting them with opportunities for employment.
South Africa’s youth unemployment rate has reached a staggering high – it is now the highest in the world, and more young people are unemployed than employed, reported Daily Maverick at The Gathering.
The main reported reason for inactivity of young people in the job market is discouragement – they have lost hope of finding a job that suits their skills or in the area they reside, according to the statistics department of South Africa.
“We need real, concrete, multistakeholder projects to address this challenge – partnerships that generate full-time opportunities,” said CEO at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator Kasthuri Soni. “Unemployment is the crisis of our lifetime.”
Read in Daily Maverick: The Economy and Business Environment – without a silver bullet, we need collective action on the youth unemployment crisis
TRACE Academia, a free new app and youth education initiative stemming from TRACE TV (the most popular Afro-pop music channel in Africa), is implementing strategies hoping to change these youth unemployment statistics.
Addressing the root of the problem
Launched in May 2022, the app offers a plethora of free digital courses, aiming to “remove entry barriers in employment opportunities and increase access to information” for the young people of South Africa, according to its managing director, Femi Taiwo.
There is a “strong linkage” between education and employment, Taiwo explained.
For most African students, opportunities to prepare for the world of work mostly happen at high school level – but the quality of the majority of African high schools is “not sufficient or qualitative enough for this kind of professional preparation”. In a number of African countries, he added, only about one out of five young people has the opportunity to attend university.
Read in Daily Maverick: Our unequal education system is not a fair fight, it’s an ambush
“One of the major dimensions of the problem is the lack of opportunity to build relevant skills that are in demand and needed for the market and each line of work,” said Taiwo.
An ambitious plan and educational programme
TRACE Academia currently offers more than 200 courses across industries and sectors, and plans to have up to 500 by next year – topics include soft skills and hard skills that ...
02
DEC
3pm

Mountain Zebra National Park – back from the brink

An 18th-century wildlife tragedy becomes a 21st-century success story.
The best time to be at the Mountain Zebra National Park outside Cradock in the Eastern Cape Karoo is at dawn. As the sky turns from black to pink to blue, the clear morning light sweeps up the ironstone krantzes of the Bankberge in dramatic silence.
A Karoo chat drops lightly to Earth and flexes its wings in a swift curtsey. A ground woodpecker takes up its post beside an ant nest. A pale chanting goshawk banks and circles overhead. Glossy lizards begin to bustle among enormous boulders, split by decades of intense heat and cold.
Our friend Michael Antrobus of Long Acre farm outside Cradock loved going to the park with us. We’d always stop at a certain spot on the Rooiplaat Plateau, where he’d point out seven visible magisterial districts. On a clear day, you could even see the distant jut of the Compassberg near Nieu-Bethesda.
Antrobus told us about the layering of the ironstone and sandstone in the mountains, the fertility of the earth and the nutrition in its grasses, showed us the places where dassies had their strongholds and where their mortal enemy, the Verreaux’s eagle, circled in the sky.
He introduced us to the hidden history of the Mountain Zebra National Park. More than a century ago, massive migrations were recorded sweeping periodically across these dry plains; millions of animals following an irregular and unknown path. Except for the quagga, the component members of those historic herds are still here.
Teeming with life
German hunter and explorer Henry Lichtenstein writes of not finding much to hunt near Cape Town after he arrived in 1803. But once he ventured over the mountains and into the hinterland, he came upon the Karoo. And it was teeming with wildlife.
“Here also the larger sorts of game, as hartebeests, elands, ostriches and quagga were to be seen wherever our eyes were directed.”
Captain William Cornwallis Harris, who arrived in South Africa in 1836, speaks of wildlife “pouring down like locusts from the endless plains”.
In the mid-1800s, Scottish hunter Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming wrote:
“I beheld the whole country, as far as my eye could reach, actually white with springboks, with here and there a herd of black gnoos or wildebeest, prancing and capering in every direction, whirling and lashing their white tails as they started off in long files on our approach.”
These words of admiration were to be followed by fusillades of ...
02
DEC
2pm

‘Strange World’ review – impressive animation but a family adventure that falls flat

Pitched as a tribute to the pulp adventures of yesteryear, ‘Strange World’s’ character work and eclectic visuals are not enough to save the story and adventure shortcomings of this animated Disney dud.
In a strange turn of events, Strange World has arrived in cinemas with barely any fanfare. A Disney theatrically released animated film is usually an annual event right up there with Pixar releases and MCU entries. And this new movie is led by Don Hall, the director and co-writer of the critically acclaimed Raya and the Last Dragon.
Ignoring the radio silence from Disney in the marketing department, Strange World has all the hallmarks of a solid family adventure with a charismatic cast and an on-brand premise. But despite all the ambition and stocking up on essential supplies, this family adventure struggles to get off the porch to explore even the front garden. Even with very good intentions and the promise of new discoveries, Strange World never takes off, and instead falls back on ideas and story elements we’re all far too familiar with.
It’s been 25 years since the great adventurer and hero Jaeger Clade (voiced by Dennis Quaid) left his young son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), to traverse the mountains that surround their hometown of Avalonia. Searcher, now a local hero himself for discovering a new energy source, is a farmer leading a quiet, non-adventuring life with his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and his own son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White).
All is peaceful right up until Avalonia’s president, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), calls on Searcher and his family to join her on a quest to save the town from an unknown threat – an adventure that will propel them across a mysterious and breathtaking landscape very different from what they know. Along the way, some new friends are made and some family ties are rediscovered, prompting Searcher to contemplate his role as a father and what it means to uphold his family legacy.
Right during the opening prologue, Strange World starts to fall off its axis with very shaky character motivation. The rift between Searcher and his father comes off as extremely forced and not backed up by the circumstances that precede it. What detracts from that rift further, and one of the film’s biggest running issues, is some of the worst spoken dialogue heard in a Disney movie in a long time. Characters recycle talking points throughout and state obvious facts, not ...
02
DEC
2pm

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ continues the series’ quest to recover and celebrate lost cultures

Whereas the first ‘Black Panther’ film celebrated an array of African cultures, the follow-up seeks to also highlight the rich legacy of Mesoamerican cultures destroyed by colonial conquest.
As someone who teaches and writes about Afrofuturism, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” I’m particularly excited about the introduction of Namor and the hidden kingdom of Talokan, which he leads.
The first “Black Panther” film adhered to a longstanding practice in Afrofuturist stories and art by engaging in what I call “acts of recovery” – the process of reviving and celebrating elements of Black culture that were destroyed or suppressed by colonization. This practice is often linked to “Sankofa,” an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana that roughly translates to “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”
“Wakanda Forever” pulls from the past in the same way, but with a twist: Talokan is inspired not by African cultures, but by Mesoamerica, a vast area that covers most of Central America and part of Mexico.
A theory of time
The idea that African knowledge and contributions to science and culture have been erased and must be recovered is central to Afrofuturism. The term, which was coined in 1994, describes a cultural movement that pulls from elements of science fiction, magical realism, speculative fiction and African history.
On its home page, the Afrofurist listserv, an email list organized by social scientist Alondra Nelson in 1998, pointed to this process of recovery as a central tenet of the genre:
“Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, cultural producers of the African diaspora composed unique visions on the world at hand and the world to come. This speculation has been called AfroFuturism – cultural production that simultaneously references a past of abduction, displacement and alien-nation; celebrates the unique aesthetic perspectives inspired by these fractured histories; and imagines the possible futures of black life and ever-widening definitions of ‘blackness.’”
This fascination with uncovering the ways in which Black contributions have been erased and suppressed means that Afrofuturist works often mine the past as a first step toward creating visions of the future.
Afrofuturist scholars such as Kinitra Brooks even describe Afrofuturism as a theory of time. For her, the “present, past, and future” exist together, creating the opportunity to push against the systemic devaluation of Black people that occurred during slavery and Jim Crow segregation, and persists in contemporary anti-Black ...
02
DEC
1pm

Five things science has told us about the mummy of Tutankhamun

The discovery of Tutankhamun’s ancient Egyptian tomb in 1922 thrilled the world. But people know more about rumours of a curse than the amazing things science revealed about the boy king.
One hundred years ago, our understanding of ancient Egypt changed forever when the tomb of King Tutankhamun was found on November 4, 1922 in the Valley of Kings. Born around 1305BC, Tutankhamun only ruled Egypt for about ten years. Yet his tomb was furnished with never-before-seen riches.
Our fascination with mummies is understandable. Gazing on the face of a prehistoric Egyptian king makes these ethereal and majestic rulers seem more real. The discovery of Tutankhamun in his original resting place, complete with all his possessions, makes us feel a connection to a primeval past. It transports us back in time to the funeral of a young king.
Studies of Tutankhamun’s life are often overshadowed by the sensational rumours that surround the discovery of his tomb, such as persistent whispers of a curse. But if we allow the gossip to get in the way of seeing Tutankhamen the person, we’ll miss out.
1. Tutankhamun’s death is still a mystery
It’s difficult to find out why someone who lived a long time ago died. Tutankhamun is no exception. People in ancient Egypt lived shorter lives because they didn’t have the same healthcare as we do. But Tutankhamun died at around 19 years old, which was young even for ancient Egypt.
Recently, studies using x-rays, CT scans and DNA testing showed Tutankhamun had malaria, along with some other medical conditions such as a cleft palate. He also broke his leg just before he died. This information helps us build a picture of Tutankhamun’s health before his death. It doesn’t tell us exactly how he died though, except that there is no sign he was murdered.
2. He was buried with flowers
When Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922, he was wearing a collar made of flowers. They were in good condition because they were sealed inside the coffin with him. Funeral bouquets have been found on other mummies. But this is the only royal burial where all the flowers were found just as the ancient Egyptian mourners left them.
Flowers were important to ancient Egyptians, who painted pictures of flower gardens on the walls of their tombs. Flowers were admired for their beauty, their perfume and for symbolic reasons. Studies of the flowers and fruits used in the collar show that ...
02
DEC
1pm

Three reasons strong perfumes give you a headache

No two people will react to the same smell in the same way.
Humans can smell over 1 trillion odours. But no two people will react in quite the same way to the same smell. While there are some smells almost everyone agrees are unpleasant (such as paint thinner or rotten food), our reactions to other types of smells can be far more personal.
Take perfume. While one person may find the smell of a strong, floral perfume to be heavenly, another person may find it gives them a headache. There are many reasons why people can get a physical reaction to strong smells – but here are the three most common ones.
1. Emotions
Of all of our senses, only smell has a direct line to our emotional system. It’s thought the reason for this link is because smell evolved first of all of our senses. This means we don’t just perceive smell based on the odour chemicals presented to us, but together with all our memories of that smell – including the way it makes us feel, our past memories, and how we presently feel.
So let’s say you smell something you associate with a negative memory. Perhaps it’s the smell of cleaning chemicals used in a hospital, or the same perfume your ex used. One whiff may cause all those negative emotions to come rushing back to you, leading your body to generate a fight or flight stress response.
The fight or flight stress response is your body’s way of reacting to stress, anxiety or danger. It causes a number of physical changes, most of which are triggered by the brain going into high alert. One of the first changes you may notice during a fight or flight response is tension around the head and neck area. The reason for this is due to a vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) which allows more blood to be diverted to the brain and parts of the body that need it.
Vasodilation also activates sensory receptors embedded in the blood vessels, which we perceive as headache pain if the blood vessels in the head and neck are the ones widening.
How we respond emotionally to certain smells is very personal, and based on a myriad of experiences. It may even be triggered by smells we may not even be conscious of smelling or consciously aware of our reaction to them. But if you tend to get headaches ...
02
DEC
12pm

My dad was from a different world, but was close to me in ways that cannot be expressed

Kamini Pather is a South African chef, food blogger and television and radio personality. She won the second season of ‘MasterChef South Africa’ in 2013 and hosted the food travel series ‘Girl Eat World’. Here, she tells the story of how her dad influenced her.
Dads have always confused me. Mine was part of the “strong, silent-type” brigade, so we didn’t have that typical father-daughter relationship. As a man of Indian heritage who was a young adult during the apartheid regime, his brief as a father was to be a provider, which he did amazingly. But for most of my childhood I felt something lacking because I wanted the type of father who wanted to play ball or cuddle. Sure, we were our own thing, our own “team”, if you will. On a Sunday morning my dad and I would wash the cars while my mum and brother made us breakfast. We discovered that we were alike, he and I. Elements of our personalities were strikingly similar, far more than our almond-shaped eyes and delicate cheekbones.
After spending 15 years out of my childhood home, my relationship with my father grew and blossomed. The phrase “parents are people too” allowed me to see that we were each having a human experience as we both grew up side-by-side. My return to Durban after 15 years in Cape Town changed our relationship. I will always treasure our secret coffee dates or trips to a hardware store. In the two years before he died, I got to feel that I was his favourite, the way it was when I was a child. One of the things I will miss most about him not being around is the feeling that, irrespective of what I did, I was his favourite person in the world.
In the wake of my father’s passing, I am reminded of his meagre beginnings. I am reminded of how hard he worked to give me the life that I have and the opportunities that have shaped my worldview. He didn’t understand me sometimes because the world that he grew up in and my world were so different, but the fact that we shared a similar palate – I always knew what he would like on a menu – made us close in ways that cannot be expressed. The connection was never about words, it was always about acts of service.
My father’s untimely death has ...
02
DEC
12pm

Make the most of your air fryer

Three fool-proof recipes from the runaway hit The South African Air Fryer Cookbook, that will make dinner time a lot tastier.
The air fryer – essentially a small countertop convection oven that cooks food quickly and efficiently – has gained tremendous popularity in South Africa over the last few years.
The South African Air Fryer Cookbook – a current Daily Maverick Top Ten Best Seller – is a collection of easy-to-follow, mouthwatering, family-friendly local recipes. It’s a must-have to add to your cooking repertoire.
The book includes helpful tips and tricks for any size or brand of air fryer, and suggests some essential accessories.
Steak Gatsby
Tuck into this home-made version of the popular take-away treat.
Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time
Air-fryer temperature: 200°C
Cooking time: approximately 25 minutes
800 g minute steaks
5 ml ground turmeric
30 ml leaf masala
5 ml paprika
10 ml barbeque spice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
15 ml grated ginger
15 ml brown vinegar, plus extra for drizzling
5 ml sugar
60 ml canola oil
2 onions, sliced
750 g oven-baked chips
1 large French loaf, cut in half lengthways
Sliced tomato, lettuce, coriander, chilli sauce (optional), to serve
Place the pieces of meat between two sheets of plastic wrap and hit gently with a rolling pin or meat mallet to flatten.
Mix the spices, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sugar and 30 ml oil together and spread over the meat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Put the onion slices into a bowl and add the remaining oil. Toss well to coat.
Preheat the air fryer to 200°C. Put the onions into the basket of the air fryer and cook for 8 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking time. The onions should be slightly charred when they are done. Remove from the air fryer and set aside.
Reduce the heat to 190°C and cook the oven-baked chips for 10 minutes until done. Toss once during cooking. Set aside. Drizzle with brown vinegar and season to taste.
Increase the air fryer temperature to 200°C and add the steak to the basket. Cook for 3-5 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
To serve, spread the bread with butter. Top with tomato, lettuce, coriander, chips, steak and onions. Add some chilli sauce, if you like. Wrap tightly in foil and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes so the flavours can mingle. Cut into pieces and enjoy.
Moroccan-spiced butternut and naartjie salad
Serve as a side salad or add cooked chicken or chickpeas and enjoy as a light main course.
Serves: 4
Preparation time: ...

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