GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 30 September 2014
Category: Features
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GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors, the latest anthology of graphic literature by South African artists, was launched recently in Cape Town at a corresponding art exhibition to which artists, illustrators, and comics creators featured in the book contributed illustrations, sculptures, and paintings.

Last year the inaugural edition of GrafLit: Graveyard Literature In Black & White was launched in Cape Town and I was honoured to have been a contributor to that book, which, although an experiment, was planned as what would hopefully be the start of an annual project showcasing the work of both established and up-and-coming artists, illustrators, and comics creators.

GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition

Happily, this year the book is back with a new team, some new (and a few returning) contributors, and in a new physical format. The 2014 editorial team comprised Su Opperman, Jean de Wet, kEda Gomes, and Andy Mason and was once again a collaborative publishing effort between the Centre For Comic, Illustrative And Book Arts (CCIBA) at Stellenbosch University and Mamba Media, Youngblood Africa Arts & Culture Development, Artfarm, Jean de Wet, and PreZanian Comix.

GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: kEda Gomes, Su Opperman, Andy Mason, and Jean de Wet at the launch of GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors.
The project coordinators learnt from the successes and failures of last year's publication and so this year only 100 copies of the book have been printed to keep costs down. The pages were hand printed by Jean de Wet on his risograph in one colour (black), which also helped to reduce costs, and the cover was printed separately on cardboard using two colours with ink that is slightly raised, which makes handling the book a wonderful tactile experience - in fact, it is absolutely gorgeous to look at, touch, and smell.

GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Three pieces by Sergio Rinquest.
The book comprises work by 25 contributors, including Hanno van Zyl, the cover designer. Most of the work is in comic format and the stories tackle genres as diverse as contemporary life and speculative fiction. For the most part they are set in the Cape, as per the theme for this year, which was localised to the city of Cape Town. The rest of the contributors submitted artworks that also echoed the theme, usually by representing people or places of Cape Town, generally with a social message within the art.



The Launch Of GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors
As with last year's launch, this year it took place at the Youngblood Gallery in Bree Street, Cape Town, and an exhibition of related artworks by contributors to the book was held in the space. Unfortunately the exhibition was only up for just over a week (it technically opened before the book launch), and coincided with both the Open Book Festival and the Cape Town Fringe festival, so with so many events going on in the city it's possible that a lot of people missed the chance to see the artworks before they were taken down.

The opening night was once again a light-hearted event that gave aficionados a chance to purchase their copies of the book and get them signed by some of the contributors, as well as peruse and buy the art. An auction of four books, individually customised by Roberto, Daniël Hugo, kEda Gomes, and Ben Winfield, was also held to raise money for the project.

GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Greener by Nicolene Louw and Urban Interiors by Su Opperman.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Ben Winfield and Andy Mason.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Ben Winfield's interactive display featuring Φυτον.
Ben Winfield submitted quite a few pieces for the exhibition, including a wooden sculpture titled Just Passing Through and an interactive comic strip titled Φυτον ("Phyto"), about a homeless man who lives under a bridge. The full comic, which is printed as a 1.2 metre vertical strip, was on display on a wall but visitors could also scroll through each panel using this interactive device that Ben devised and which he also had on display at the Open Book Comics Fest.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Theodore Key and Roberto.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Luntu Vumazonke with two of his artworks.
Luntu Vumazonke has been a regular contributor to comics anthology This Life, which is an arts project by the organisation Young In Prison that aims to teach life skills to youth at risk. He is an up-and-coming comics creator and I was very pleased to see his work included in GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors as he brings a gritty realism to South African comics in the work that he produces as it explores life in the townships using stories that often start out dark but generally end on a happy note.

Luntu produced three artworks for the exhibition, Gun and Car, which are pictured above, as well as a third that for some reason wasn't displayed, titled Rosary. Luntu showed it to me and I actually think it was the best of the three pieces as the rosary bead chain is loosely lying in the shape of Africa, and one can infer all sorts of subtext from that.

GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Soul Stories by Rayaan Cassiem and Rubixed Out 1 by kEda Gomes.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Close up of The Professor's Dystopian Dream - Mapping The City by Archie Birch.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Three artworks by Anja Venter.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Zola Radiation by Andy Mason on a recycled surfboard.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Behind The Mask by Anwar Davids.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: The Interview by Theodore Key and Up Against The Wall Motherfucker by Daniël du Plessis.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition
Above: Daniël Hugo and Archie Birch.


GrafLit 2014: Urban Interiors: The Launch And Exhibition



Tags: #arts_and_culture, #books, #cape_town, #comics, #horror, #open_book, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction



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