Halakasha! Football scores for art

4 June 2010

The Halakasha! exhibition, on at Johannesburg’s Standard Bank Gallery, focuses on everything visual that represents football in Africa, from memorabilia to old photographs, from barber shop signs to Fifa posters.

“Halakasha!” is a traditional South African celebratory cry shouted by fans when a goal is scored.

“The exhibition – which brings together two complementary components of Standard Bank’s sponsorship programme, football and arts – is a visual feast to be enjoyed by those with an interest in sporting and visual culture,” says Fred Phaswana, chairman of the Standard Bank Group, in the foreword to the exhibition catalogue.

There’s something for everyone is this visual feast – two walls full of dazzling makarapas, almost dancing on the recreated stands where they are arranged. There’s the famous vuvuzela, represented as if it is a relic from the past. And there’s clothing and bumper stickers and other football merchandise.

There are wonderful wooden sculptures of football players; photographs of fans in stadiums across Africa; videos and projections, one showing a group of players playing the game over a set of railways tracks.

There are Fifa posters by world-renowned artists, on sale at galleries; there are barber shop signs by Ghanaian and Congolese artists, each with a football player; and there’s the 1998 Bafana Bafana Salon banner, with a lookalike Lucas Radebe image.

Robben Island

Robben Island political prisoners are represented in the form of documents and handmade badges. Prisoners played football with great enthusiasm on the island.

There are images from Drum magazine depicting soccer during apartheid. Photographs of two struggle leaders – one of Oliver Tambo, another of Dr Yusuf Dadoo, with the caption “November 1953 – Political Football – Nimble Attorney (with the ball) Oliver Tambo of the firm Mandela and Tambo, guides the ball through the proper channels”. Dadoo is described as treating the ball “very gingerly”.

The game was played at “Mai’s farm near Johannesburg”, and the veterans beat the youth 1-0 in the half-hour game.

There are costumes, drums and masks from Angola, Cameroon and Ghana. There’s a collection of soccer balls and boots, and a whole team standing hands on hearts, carved in wood, singing the anthem in the 1996 Bafana jersey.

And then there’s Johannes “Mzion” Mofokeng, Orlando Pirates’ number one supporter. He has a shrine to the club in his house where he prays to his ancestors every time his club is to play. His bedroom is bursting with club memorabilia, including an Orlando Pirates guitar, several makarapas, a skeleton outfit and linen adorned with the Orlando Pirates shield. He is also a Bafana Bafana fan.

“The exhibition is framed mainly around the theme of local and African football supporters, imaging the politics and nationalist sentiment associated with football during and after the apartheid era,” says the exhibition curator, Fiona Rankin-Smith, in the catalogue introduction.

Art collection

Artworks are drawn from the Standard Bank African Art Collection and from other South African collections, as well as loans from international sources; there are also several specifically commissioned works.

Artists represented include Jackson Hlungwane, William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, Gerard Bhengu, Johannes Maswanganyi, Mary Wafer, Durant Sihlali, Kay Hassan, Joachim Schonfeldt and Pieter Hugo.

It was only in 1991, after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC, that the first racially integrated soccer league was formed in South Africa. This paved the way for South Africa to enter the African and World cups, explains historian Philip Bonner in the catalogue.

“Hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ represents the long-awaited final fruition of a dream extending back 100 years,” he concludes.

The exhibition runs until 17 July.

Halakasha!

Source: City of Johannesburg