According to YDESIRE organizer James Webb, YDESIRE was a resounding success. More than 7000 people attended this art-party hosted at Cape Town's iconic Castle. While some might have complained about the quality of David West's djing capabilities or the lack of temerity in noise artist Wa's fifteen minute sound intervention, the overall feedback from partygoers and art pundits alike is that YDESIRE more than impressed.
Visiting Design Indaba delegate Simon Sankarayya (of Digit London) adequately describes the surprise some must of have felt on entering the castle. "I had been expecting a white space where they served crap wine." Instead he was treated to an all night reverie that went on until four the next morning. "It really gave me a good impression of a city bristling with unexpected creative energy," Sankarayya further commented.
Taking a detour from our usually meditative reviews, two of ArtThrob's senior reviewers offer their views on the evening's festivities - and some comments on the art.
'YDESIRE', in its fourth manifestation, has come a long way from the first 'Softserve' days when it was organised by Public Eye in the South African National Gallery in 1999. This edition was certainly the biggest and best from the point of view of the partygoer; cool dj's kept the music going till the early hours, accompanied by non-stop lighting effects which played over the old walls of the Castle. Everyone loved the party, and most partygoers at least had a look at some of the offerings which filled the handsome spaces at the Castle.
Good art which addressed the central theme of objects of desire hung side by side with less impressive offerings, although one bears in mind always that art made especially for a one-night event on a small budget will generally have its limitations. Not so in a number of cases, though. Dorothee Kreutzveldt and Jean Brundrit's synchronised videos of two girl singers against a background of a tropical island crooning about being crazy in love was immensely likeable - one person told me they watched it 14 times.
Sanell Aggenbach's floating bed with its tulle coverlet and empty picture frame hovered between ghost movie and teenage fantasy, and Peter Robson's morphing people video was engaging. The Odd Enginears, with their athletic performance on bicycle frames in a specially constructed frame set in a torture chamber was an act many missed because of the crowds.
All of these were established art practitioners, though, and one of the most attractive and luminous installations was missed by many anxious to reach the main action: the glass objects at the entrance to the Castle produced at workshops run by Rebecca Townsend (at the Community Arts Project) as part of the 'YDESIRE' programme. Using kiln formed glass techniques incorporating wirework and oxides, the group made a collaborative installation across the moat of the castle, a net-work of wire and light, interweaving glass art elements. Design and construction: Ayanda Ogqoyi, Mbulelo Canda, Kim Wyngaard, Karen Hlaba and Ebrahiem Carr. This piece was all the more gratifying in that it fulfilled one of the original aims of the 'Softserve' projects: skills sharing.
Skateboards. That'd be what I enjoyed most about YDESIRE. I'm not sure if this was the best work there, but it was the one that exerted the strongest pull on my creaky knees. Time and time again I lead my small party to the now electrified front quad of the castle. If one of us went to the men's or ladies, it was 'Meet you at the skateboard ramp'. 'If we get lost, meet at the skateboard ramp'. 'Let's sit down somewhere and have some chow. I know, there's lots of space around over there and we can watch the skateboarders while we eat.' The latter wasn't such a popular suggestion given the dangerous regularity with which polyurethane and plywood arced dangerously off the coping into the unsuspecting crowd. For MFA student Julia Clark, who organised this 'installation', it might well have been about the barely nourished testosterone and raw sex appeal of the skinny-butted, dodgily dressed young men and their flying machines. For me, whose skateboarding career stared with the skinny, wobbly boards of the 70s, it was definitely about that still smouldering ambition to pull off a real styley ollie stalefish to revert.