'Connecting Flights' - Dialogue with the Diaspora
by Sean O'Toole
'Connecting Flights' is a series of exchanges and cultural conversations between the cities of Johannesburg, London, New Delhi and New York. Initiated by the Arts Council of England and the London Arts Board, the project looks at the theme, "New Cultures of the Diaspora" within an "arts and urbanism" framework.
Although the event does not involve any contemporary South African artists in the Colloquium on Urban Public Art, due to take place on November 1 in Johannesburg, the event is nonetheless of interest. Issues concerning the artistic and aesthetic regeneration of Johannesburg look set to be discussed.
Local contributions include Soweto Dance Theatre's Jackie Semela, together with poet and writer Lebogang Mashile, collaborating with London-based H Patten in a dance/poetry/music partnership. Photographer and multimedia artist, Eric Lesdema, has already visited Johannesburg and will present his interpretations of all four "hub centres" at a two-day conference at London's British Library on November 7th and 8th.
Other events include a global story chain in which 15 writers from around the world pick up a story line from the previous contributor, on the theme, "Back Home". The project will be broadcast by BBC World Service and translated by UNESCO. Whether the varied interactions will have more than a token import for Jozi residents remains to be seen. South African will be represented by a delegation of eight as of yet unknown individuals. The ambit for the London conference is, however, a worthy one, and aims to address relevant issues concerning cultures of the Diaspora, cultural diversity and the effects of globalisation on identity.
For further information on the London conference, visit www.connectingflights.org