The provision of visionary education, responsive health-care, employment, proper housing, piped water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal to the majority of the country’s citizens living in the shacklands and rural areas has eluded the ANC government 20 years into its incumbency - and the DA in the Western Cape too. But they have managed to deliver T-shirts at political rallies, sod-turnings, government functions and imbizos – usually with a lunch that isn’t free because one’s presence is co-opted for politically cynical reasons.

While Marie Antoinette would have France’s poor eat cake, South Africa’s political elite would have the country’s marginalised starve materially and mentally in party-political or government T-shirts.

President Zuma wanted good stories to tell at his State of the Nation address? We laud government’s and mainstream political parties’ ability to deliver Chinese-made T-shirts to the masses.


There are none as invisible, as those who merely want to be seen” - Title of Tokolos Stencil’s installation at #FirstThursdays in Brundyn+ Gallery and Open City (Church Square).

These photos by Sarah Rohde show Tokolos’ surprise appearance at the First Thursday’s Open City event.

We feel that the entire #FirstThursdays initiative is an exclusionary space meant to help the middle class pretend that their culture is significant and relevant. Instead, First Thursdays merely serves to exclude the poor black underclass. Many of the art installations talk about the poor but rarely if ever do they actually build space of inclusion.

In order to disrupt this space of exclusion, Tokolos deposited an unsanctioned installation of its own: a pota-pota toilet from a Khayelitsha shack settlement. These disgusting plastic laptop toilets are completely unsanitary and yet thousands of people live with them every day. By placing the toilet in the middle of Hipster Heaven, we hope we disrupted the space and made visible, even if for only a few minutes, those who are generally unseen.
Real art makes the privileged uncomfortable

Last week members of the Tokolos Stencil Collective emerged from the decades old cultural hub (but increasingly sanitised and gentrified) community of Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, carrying with us a portable toilet known to Cape Town’s poor residents as a “porta-porta” or a “laptop”.

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Tokolos invited to exhibit at a bourgeois art gallery

Tokolos invited to exhibit at a bourgeois art gallery

To terrorise the powers that be, the tokoloshe emerges from obscurity reminding South Africans, young and old, that freedom and justice remain elusive unless we are willing to fight for it.

Brundyn+ Gallery, in 170 Buitengracht Street in Bo-Kaap, has invited the Tokolos Stencil Collective to exhibit in its space beginning on the 6th of November at 6pm. It has asked us for a short artist statement which, we feel, could be about many things which we normally speak to in our work:

* The predatory capitalist state which exploits and murders miners, farmworkers and poor blacks in general. Remember Marikana; it happens again and again, everyday, across the country.

* The neoliberal South African city, which works for a few, and evicts the rest to dehumanisation zones such as Blikkiesdorp and Happy Valley.

* The slave-master tradition of the white farmer and the black farmworker to which one can exclaim: Larney Jou Poes!

* Eye-Wie! The South African state, mimicking its militarised big brother, the United States, is concocting a ubiquitous surveillance state. We are yet to take note of the CCTV cameras lining every corner, the establishment of RICA, or the expansion of our corrupt police and unaccountable intelligence services.

But we’d rather, right now, speak about how all the above, the domination, the exclusion, and the systems of control, are being reified in the space of the traditional bourgeois art gallery.

We will challenge this space.

The Tokolos Stencil Collective

Marikana, two years on: Cape Town’s protest artists remember the dead | Daily Maverick

We are featured in today’s article in the Daily Maverick:

Two years after the killing of 34 miners at Marikana, no official memorial to the massacre has yet been established. Perhaps a state-sponsored memorial to state-sponsored violence can never be anything more than an expedient gesture. But in Cape Town this week, artists have brought the lives of those slain at Marikana into the city’s genteel streets in anarchic, confronting ways. By REBECCA DAVIS.