A conversation

A Conversation, The Pilot Edition is a collaborative project between Robyn Nesbitt, Nina Barnett and myself. It is an attempt at exploring our common interests, namely landscapes, land, home and belonging through creating platforms for conversations. So far this has happened in a quite literal sense where we organize loosely themed dinner events or walks, which differed in degree in terms of formality and setting, for specially invited persons. We aim at finding and bringing together artists, researchers, critical thinkers interested in the before mentioned themes. The project was kick started last November 2014, in South Africa. For this first meeting we undertook a road trip together from Johannesburg to Cape town, this with the intention of sharing an intimate space (that of a car and that of a journey). This one months residency resulted in four events: you can read the invitation letter and see some documentation of these events below. The most important outcome however is still residing in the rough material that we have collected: sound recordings of interviews, many pictures, videos of the road and a growing mind map. We are working towards a catalogue, a home page and a podcast. All three things are designed to generate more conversations and to reach out to more like minded, open minded future collaborators.

This project has generously been supported by OCA, Bergen Kommune, Sober&Lonely and Atlantic House. More info to come!

Below, the four events that took place last November, from the first event which took place in Cape Town to the  most recent project.

A Conversation – Pilot Edition, Residency program

24/11/14 – Johannesburg (Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art)

25/11/14 – Karoo Beaufort West

26/11/14 – 27/11/14 Karoo Prince Albert

28/11/14 – 30/11/14 Cape Town

29/11/14 – Cape Town (Atlantic House)  Public Event

1/12/14 – 12/12/14 Johannesburg (S&L)

6/12/14 – Johannesburg (S&L)  Public Event

11/12/14 – Johannesburg (S&L)  Public Event

Between November 2013 – 2014,
Johannesburg / Chicago / Bergen


The Jacaranda is an invasive tree. The glimmering, toxic green surface of the pool of her parents’ house reminds me of the rivers of Nikel in Russia. Ironically, they reveal quite contrary processes. The greenness in Nikel was a result of the accumulation of toxic waste due to aggressive mining strategies. The pool in Johannesburg unveils the rainwater flushing out the chlorine and the pollen and leaves of the purple Jacaranda tree which fall in it, stimulating the growth of algae. The water seems estranged from its surroundings: a surface so seemingly artificial, but which reveals a haunting depth of time and microbiological systems interacting.

When Jacarandas begin to blossom, it’s too late to start studying. Most things are displaced and uprooted – even the Jacaranda tree is slowly dying out.

I remember a certain ease. You were polite, which seemed familiar and attractive. On the second-to-last day in Bergen it was raining. We sat down at Colonialen, the local coffee bar. Then followed a stream of words, many of which I cannot recall. This image of how you temporarily inhabited the island of Utsira, just outside of Bergen, stuck. How you observed the landscape, simultaneously but through different lenses. I was attracted to the idea of sharing this experience of being in a place and collecting landscapes. At once so intimate and fragile, it is something we generally submerge ourselves in alone. While you were describing your subjective and tiny presence on the island, I thought: pity you are leaving already.

Afterwards, we talked about belonging, the remote and the nearby. We were far away from each other: geographically, and sometimes emotionally. Technology regularly broke up the dialogues. Even with difficulties, the desire to share, to attempt to relate, to understand was constant. What is the material of invested spoken and listening time? Is tangible evidence necessary for the conversation to become valid? When is this collecting work and how can it be experienced by others?

We would like to continue this conversation with you. This exchange aims to engender a thought, a trigger or a retelling – sharing our ideas as a starting point.


Robyn Nesbitt, Nina Barnett and Apichaya Wanthiang

29 November 17:00
Atlantic House
1 Perth, Maitland – Cape Town

11 December 18:30
Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art
66 4th Avenue, Melville – Johannesburg

A Conversation, The Pilot Edition Pt.1

Collaborative Interventions in Space
by Robyn Nesbitt, Nina Barnett and Apichaya Wanthiang

Mandela passes / revisiting the village, twice / flooding in South East Asia / famine / exploring East-Africa / Ebola / right wing resurfacing / slowly rooting / home, a room with light / Joburg observations equals heightened awareness and night vision / Malema and red overalls / Oscar Pistorius, Nkandla, Tim Noakes and Radio 702 / Wang’ Thola is formed / Cosmo / boundaries of whiteness and sunburn / seeing the sea / identifying as South African / feeling disingenuous / weighed down by gravity / displaced / a shared, known space of collaboration /unhinged and floating / then folding back upon oneself / as a cure for lucid dreaming we bought a new bed.

The gallery shows some documentation images of the first public event at Atlantic House.

3 December 18:15
Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art
66 4th Avenue, Melville – Johannesburg

A Conversation, the pilot edition pt.2
by Nina Barnett, Robyn Nesbitt, Apichaya Wanthiang

In villages, all activities stop when day turns into night. Families huddle together around the dinner table or sit together to drink or play. These are moments of sharing, storytelling or just silent contemplation. City life is marked by the absence of this daily rhythm.

We would like to invite you to come have dinner with us, while the sun sets slowly.

Evening program 3.12.2014 (Invite Only)

6.15pm            => meet at Sober and Lonely Institute (66 4th Avenue, Melville)

6.30pm            => wine and dusking

7.15pm            => a small Melville walk

7.30pm            => dinner and conversation

(We did not take much pictures this evening due to intimate setting, but an edited recording of the conversation that night is coming soon!)

10 December 18:30
Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art
66 4th Avenue, Melville – Johannesburg

A Conversation, The Pilot Edition Pt.3

Collaborative Interventions in Space
by Robyn Nesbitt (ZA), Nina Barnett (ZA/USA) and Apichaya Wanthiang (TH/BE)

Joburg’s buzzing night life / lively, still commercially driven local art scene / a drive through the prickly Karoo / waiting silently for the sun to set / drawing the mountain flanks of Swartberg / observing landscapes and roadscapes / collecting diverse interviews / a conversation at Atlantic House

We have used the city as a prop, a thing that engenders conversation. We have exchanged ideas with colleagues and friends, discussing topics such as home, belonging and land. These conversations have become the material we would like to share with you at this round-table gathering. We will provide snacks and drinks. Please join us in this social exchange of thoughts and memories.

Evening program

6.00 pm  => meet at S&L

6.15 pm  => wine & snacks, introductions & dusking

6.30 pm  => presentation and round table conversation

7.30 pm  => open exhibition and informal discussion

11 December 18:30
Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art
66 4th Avenue, Melville – Johannesburg

A Conversation, The Pilot Edition PTt.4

Collaborative Interventions in Space
by Robyn Nesbitt (ZA), Nina Barnett (ZA/USA) and Apichaya Wanthiang (TH/BE)

Melville is a strange place. Quite empty by day, the area livens up quickly after the sun sets. Bars and restaurant turn on multi-colored lightning bulbs. Local students and tourists loudly take over this cityscape. The area has gone through many transformations: from being the trendiest place in Joburg to becoming more desolate due to the rise of petty crime. We would like to invite you on a walk with us. To observe these streets and its inhabitants, to share stories and rumors. We are curious about the way you look at this place. We want to hear some of your stories.

Evening program

6.15 pm  => Meet at S&L

6.45 pm => Melville walks

7.30 pm  => Open exhibition and conversation

This was kindly supported by OCA and Bergen Kommune.

Photo credit: Apichaya Wanthiang

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