Monday, 8 June 2009

4.0 / Stop, collaborate & listen / Abdul Dube

What: Photographer and Zine editor
Where: Århus, Denmark

The story behind the man…
At birth, I was named Abdul Moses. But now I carry my Zimbabwean grandfather’s surname Dube. It’s a long story. The short version is it sounds much better. I’m a born and bred South African, a middle child, from a generation that saw the last explosive days of apartheid and then saw freedom in 1994. Those days will forever have a place in my being.

My dad had a photography book and a camera bag loaded with some cool stuff when I was younger, mostly converters and lens caps. He eventually sold the damn camera for economic reasons. But before that, the bag and book drew me into a world of imagination. I loved playing in it. After I left home, started my first job, got fired and was left to my own devices, I was drawn back to photography. My first camera was an old Minolta SRT with a 50mm lens. The days, months and years after picking up that camera were both expensive and liberating as it gave me another route for expression! This a very scattered timeline, but gives you a picture of what’s what.


The Denmark story – the reason why I'm living here – is the result of a classic long distance love story that stood the test of time. Five years later, Mie and I are about to have our first child.


In that mix I’ve embarked on an education called Kaospilot – known to move people and change systems. Our training is, in short, a mix of social science theories and business – a very holistic approach to remedying corporate and organisational challenges.

I recently spent some time in China as part of my course. My school sent a team of 36 to investigate creative industries over there. We were based in the powerhouse of China – Shanghai – known as the whore of the east, now a wet dream for architects and designers alike. Skyscrapers go up on an almost daily basis. It’s very fast. You can get into the flow if you allow yourself to let go and get totally immersed in the daily ins-and-outs of the mega-city. My team and I interacted and created projects with locals, as far as our no-Mandarin could take us. That’s one thing we think anyone wanting to work there should have a grip on – the language. I found awesome music and creatives there that rocked my world.

A day in his life…
I wake up next to the apple of my eye, Mei. Then have breakfast together, classically Danish – fresh bread with cheese and a cup of java. Then I’m off to school in the famous Mejlgade 35 in Århus. I stay there and get bombarded with new information. I’m open to it all. Personal leadership forms part of our day-to-day experience. The education is known to be one of the most risk-taking in the world.

After school, I cycle home uphill (having daily speed competitions with myself). At home we prepare dinner together if I’m home in time or Mie prepares it. Our favourite sitcoms are The Mentalist, Bones and Mie’s favourite, the infamous Desperate Housewives. I normally get stuck into blogging before bedtime. Soon all that will flip on its head with our newborn’s arrival.
Current projects…
For the past few weeks, myself and two friends, Rikke and Matias have been making a zine for an occupied building in Århus. The session was called Flirkus. We created four zines. On another spin of things, I am in the process of compiling, the China zine, which’ll soon be out. I’ve been hunting down collaborators for a zine that showcases my reflections of an ever-evolving Shanghai.


At school, we’re in charge of designing and executing our exam around the creative industry in Shanghai. I’m always on the lookout for collaborators and zine content. My zines are inspired by the DIY and punk ethic – cut-and-paste, expanding and creating new realities on the pages. Punks don’t die they multiply.
I'm working with a collective called ‘I do art’ – a group of young artists establishing themselves through producing great artworks. I’m trying to infuse a South African element to make that possible.

I’ve also been and still form part of MOPP – Month of Peoples Photography in Cape Town. It’s our fifth year doing it and this year we created a travelling exhibition, hitting four different ghetto areas on the Cape Flats. Five years down the line, with a very political start we’re still making a stand in the art scene in South Africa, moving forward slowly but surely.

Living abroad…
In the north, the systems surrounding art practice are sometimes so well organised it makes it tough because it’s so easy! I’m used to having major restrictions and fighting the powers that be. I miss that. This is a crude generalisation but the experience of boundaries and problems we face in SA is the opposite experience for many people in the northern hemisphere.


The mobilisation of groups here is just awesome. In Denmark, artists and creatives quickly establish themselves and work together, creating a bigger force to be reckoned with. I’m loving it here!
I find a lot of inspiration online. Learn Prezi to help me with Powerpoint presentations, Many Stuff’s graphic design daily, 2Bop, BÄST, Automatic Books, theCaféSociety and now Goodness Greatness! I share my own photography and inspiration here and on my blog, Avant Afro. There are bits you can see at Tiny Vices and Now Now.

On the book-front these are some of my favourites: How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith, Hand Job: A Catalog of Type by Michael Perry, Indie Publishing: How to Design and Publish Your Own Book by Ellen Lupton and all poems by Jit Narain. Magazine-wise, Pigeon about nocturnal activities and beyond (Denmark), Shook (UK) and Vision (China) for art, fashion and more. On the zine front, I consume them and make them. Here’s some of my stuff at TTC Gallery, Long Shot, Nelson Mandela and Photostat.

In terms of music, lots of the Chinese electronica I encountered in Shanghai and Beijing, Pet Conspiracy and The Sugar Jar – a Chinese independent music space.
At school, I’m known as the Copy Man because I’m always with the copy machine. It’s a black and white copy machine and we have really good relationship. So, I'm always working in the copy room at school and in my lounge at home for collage and digital collage. And the shed just outside the house for spray paint, cutting and making a bit of noise.


Collaboration! From Cape Town to Denmark. Anyone who wants to create. I’m here.
Skills to acquire…
Leadership skills. The world needs leaders, not rulers. Creatively, I’m developing a regression in art practice. I’m very curious about all the old methods we’ve abandoned in the photographic process to even older graphic styles and modes of production.
On his modelling days…
From my early days of being a model, it gave me many gifts – stealing with the eye and being able to interact with creatives. It’s left me with a particular way of seeing, of how I perceive the world around me. But mainly, it gave me economic freedom to play around with and explore the many avenues of creating.
Lesson learnt…
There is not just one truth, but many.
Good advice…
The things you don’t like might be the place where you will learn the most.

His dream…
To have a farmhouse with modern and energy saving technologies – a space big enough to host a few artists in residency. Where? I don’t know. But it could be either in Denmark or Cape Town. Most importantly a place where my son can grow up to be what ever he wants to be.
Words of wisdom…
It starts with one step. Do it. Then it’s done.


That Girl Designs said...

Great idea for a blog! Enjoyed this interview.

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