Review: Tea and sweeteners at Gavin Krastin’s 12 Labours walkabout – beautifully presented exhibition at 2022 National Arts Festival, Makhanda- no entrance fee to view
I was privileged to attend Gavin Krastin’s 12 Labours walkabout at the 2022 National Arts Festival, Makhanda, on June 26, in the Sun Gallery, at the Monument. It was sold out. The 2nd walkabout is on July 2 and is also sold out. However, the exhibition is on for the duration of the festival and is open for anyone to browse. There is “an online audio version that acts as a guide to the exhibition. This will contextualise the approach and speak to what people are viewing in the exhibition.” [Interview with Gavin Krastin https://thecaperobyn.co.za/preview-gavin-krastin-interventions-and-labours-personal-and-solo-at-naf-2022/] 12 Labours is comprised of “twelve individual performative acts and public community interventions.”
The walkabout was fabulous – with Krastin taking us through the various labours of the project – public and his own personal interventions. In terms of public service, a team of gnomes, worked on various interventions to fix and renew aspects of Makhanda, in the lead up to #NAF2022. Krastin has described the gnomes as “a collective of ordinary queer people who approach acts of service as a kind of love language in an arguably corrupt capitalist economy.” The gnomes laboured on a derelict traffic circle. They brought in soil, plants, and rocks and spruced it up. Sadly, it was vandalised and had to be redone. They worked on a bus stop and painted it gold- like a throne. That bus stop has been let relatively intact. A big labour was a pothole project. Potholes are a feature of Makhanda. It was indicated to the team that limited public pothole refurbishment would be taking place, at this juncture. Team 12 Labours was welcome to go potholing. They were cheered along for that one. They cleared a rubbish dumping site of plastic as cows and donkeys like to meander and forage for food.
In addition to enacting the public labours with his gnome colleagues, Krastin spoke about his recent back surgery and how that led him to explore images of exploring roots in the project (check out the sweet potatoes on plinths at the exhibition). He spoke about his gratitude for his mother and how she has always supported his work and his gratitude to one of his lecturers who recently retired. At the midpoint of the walkabout, Krastin served us tea – a nod to his British family roots. He mused that tea makes us feel better. It gives us a moment, to breathe and decompress. There were a selection of teas- including Earl Grey and Rooibos, sweetener, milk and soya milk. It was lovely to be served tea at a walkabout. It felt like we being welcomed by the artists into his space.
I have a lot more to say about 12 Labours but this it for now. It is a quickie alert. Do not miss this beautifully laid out exhibition, lit in shimmering fluorescent pink light, in the Sun Gallery at the Monument. It is on until July 3. There is no charge and there is a generator at the Monument, so the exhibition is not impacted by loadshedding. Here is the link: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/gavin-krastin/
❇Featured image: Gavin Krastin at his 12 Labours walkabout at the 2022 National Arts Festival, Makahanda, on June 26, in the Sun Gallery, at the Monument. Pic © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen