The Harare Academy of Inspiration

Artist: Brenda Skelenge, Valeria Geselev, Naz Saldulker
Location: Harare, Khayelitsha

Year of Completion: 2015
Researcher: Vaughn Sadie

The month long project has ran out Berenda Skelenga house, which opens up on to a recently built public square, which is surrounded by several small businesses. The lounge of the house had been turned into class a room to host the Academy of Inspiration. Brenda is a part-time teacher, runs a small restaurant and has catering contract with Transnet. Brenda had been opening her house up to several people to run programme that up lifted her fellow residents of Harare, Khayelitsha. The project was small and was setup to be an alternative space for exchange and interaction, proposing an alternative imagining of a South African Township. The scheduled lectures and workshops we scheduled to start 1pm each day, with a free lunch served between 3 and 4pm for all the participants.

There was a core group of 10 participants, men who came from other parts of Khayelitsha to share in the programme. The Harare Academy of Inspiration has successfully created an informal space for interacting across all ages and gender, often spilling to the square when classes were full. The project also disrupted the assumed power dynamic of an outsider coming in to facilitate and teach, it set the space up in such a way that it places everybody on an equally level.

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The project is nominated for several reasons, one, it offers great insight to a different conception of public space, which is temporary and structured around the sharing and production of knowledge. Two, it sensitively works within an existing mode of community-determined practices as defined by a resident, clearly understanding how to be present without taking over and disrupting an already established context. Three, it challenges our understanding how knowledge is distributed and created in public space, shifting into non formalised spaces where this type of exchange is based on clear understanding of shifting relationship and a negotiation around shared accountability.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency