Vusumzi Nkomo



“ekse gazi this cat is dope damn ridiculous delivery. his attention to the imagery, you know.”


“you think the sonic is ahead of the photographic?”


“if we are to entertain the dichotomy my dude, you know, yes. beyond the word even, the filmic, the architectural. just ahead joe.”


kwa sec egugs chit chatting breakingbread baskin’ in the sun blackboyin’ blackjoy gin joy & jazz & spaza & some slick spitting from ndlulamthi. cape town hip hop royalty. thembinkosi think ndlulamthi is on to something. ageing finely this cat a proper g pensive in person but penetrating insights into the ghetto experience. black hard living, like slaghuis. abattoir aesthetic too, i chip in.


“that tune is dark”, he tells me, referring to ‘abahlali,’ “gory the gall to be so uncompromisingly dark man can’t stand it so sick.” how do we reconcile black sites of leisure, for instance, the tavern as cultural institution but also as abattoir? it is that + more. i refuse to let this go so i ask again. a collective native here the biopolitical gugulective athi joja dathini khanyisile mbongwa zipho & kemang wa lehulere and some other cats operated in an operational tavern kwa-mlamli. with a common understanding of the tavern, its role in production of knowledge, culture resistance & protest & dissent. and more, including violence.


“primarily the tavern isloti is a site & source of trauma i return to it to think about processing that trauma its therapeutic capacities recuperative potential.”

Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo, Slaghuis II_Fleeting Feet, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.


Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo, Slaghuis II_UNTITLED X, 2020. 

Courtesy of the artist.

recording a feeling

ndlulamthi’s set is sick hot, punctuated by brief contextualisation, explanatory gestures by igrootman gems from substance ep. opening song ‘amajita’ is in critical dialogue with walter rodney’s groundings with my brothers. making life, being in community with amajita. ekasi eghetto, grounding, being together in ethical communion. 


so we here after the boy begged me for a spin grounding getting surgical with slaghuis. something ghostly about the images, spectral haunting limbs all over the series incomplete like meat in butchery pickaxed into pieces chopped like wood & transformed. ripped apart voices. death into many dead things. 


i ask what did you mean by the “silence” in the photographs? “i think silence is not necessarily ‘quiet.’”


i guess what i’m getting at, which is troubling me, is the tavern as the loudest place in the hood (apart from its competitor, the church): screams rattling gun-dubula slaughter isghubu din of the juke box. if we are to listen to your photographs, what are we to hear? 


“i think it's obvious that the work is autobiographical. the photo essay would’ve succeeded if you can hear all the sounds and musics as i heard them from the house, the window, be they the kwaito and the chaos that animated the tavern. in short, what poet moten calls the 'aural aesthetic of the photograph' i believe is what you are asking me."


true. was it SLAGHUIS II_UNTITLED XXXIV you were writing about when you said: “As a young kid, my earliest encounters with the violence of the space were through the window. I’d look through the window to see if my parents were okay, but there was always something obstructing the view, like the curtains, the burglar bars, the congested movements.”


in this other chat with robin kelley, poet moten talks about the centrality of the window in the west’s philosophical tradition, the window as an opening, as symbolic of hope & possibility, but the window is not that in slaghuis. its function is inverted. it signifies a technology to peek through the horror trauma, the ghastly of|in the ghetto. it is a hole to hell that robs you of all innocence baptising thru the vile the violence? would you agree?