Blank Canvas Express: Going Beyond The Burn

Words: Loz Tanner / Photos: as per credit on shot


If you caught the Rieldans performance by the Calvinia Sitstappers and their musician Boeta Gammie on the Friday of this year’s main event at Off-Centre Camp and DMV, I’m sure you were blown away by their stof-kicking dances. If you didn’t, you missed a fine opportunity to participate in some local culture at its best.



Either way, you may or may not know that the performance was just one aspect of a strategic relationship-building process across our host province, the Northern Cape. At this year’s event, ‘Working Title______’, we had a delegation from the provincial and district tourism departments and the local municipality. The Rieldans initiative was instigated by Avril Pieterse of Namakwa District Municipality, who commented: “Being part of AfrikaBurn was absolutely magical to us.”



But why do we care? Well, as co-creators of Tankwa Town, we revel in the sheer beauty of the place. And whilst we play in our temporary autonomous zone, breaking down the default and inverting reality, we can’t ignore the strong connection to the physical, geographical space we inhabit. Its remoteness and beauty is indicative of the Northern Cape – our most sparsely populated province.

We therefore, literally, have to go to great lengths to create relationships with the people around us – many of whom support our endeavours behind the scenes and make it the success it is. The sad fact is that aside from the Tankwa folk, we have very few participants from the Northern Cape and beyond; and so like in the good old days when AfrikaBurn was a toddler, it’s time to get out there and find the friends we’ve yet to meet.

So where to, from here? With the support of the National Lotteries Commission South Africa, AfrikaBurn is taking a hop, skip and a jump across five regions in the vast Northern Cape for a Blank Canvas Express tour to engage with artists and cultural practitioners and share the story of AfrikaBurn and to foster the practicing of imagining.



The first of five engagements begins on 20 June at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley, where Simon O’Callaghan’s photographic exhibition that accompanies his book ‘Burn: Into The Flames of Burning Art’ and the gifted short film ‘Copper Ashes‘ by Dewald Brand, Herman du Toit and Michael Zomer will run until 18 July.

Find out more about the exhibition here.

Some of the AfrikaBurn team will be headed to Kimberley do some creative engagements with artists on the 10th and 11th of July. The brilliantly bizarre Memnoc Collective, who brought us the Wet Dream Aquarium this year, will be creating some cheerful chaos with local performers. We’ll also be popping across the provincial border on 12 July to Bloemfontein for the Vrystaat Kunstefees and more surprises.



To keep up with the info about exact times and locations – check out the brand spanking new Facebook page: AfrikaBurn: Blank Canvas Express.

If you’re in the area – that’s Northern Cape and Free State – and want to participate or can lend a hand, please contact [email protected]

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