We recently sat down with Rolland Simpi Motaung [RSM] to talk to him about an upcoming International Cultural/Artistic Exchange kicking off today. The Azania to DC exchange will see some of SA’s brightest young Cultural and Artistic Minds touring Washington DC between April and May 2015 facilitating workshops, hosting slams and performing at a Slam Festival.
For more information please read on…
[WNS]: What is the Azania to DC trip all about and how did you get involved?
[RSM]: #Azania To DC was born from Jonathan B Turker’s excitement of Split This Rock after his 2013 visit to Tshwane, South Africa, along with a group of slam poets from Washington DC. It’s basically an internationalcultural-artistic exchange made possible through a Sister Cities International Arts Grant from Washington DC Commission of Arts and Humanities,
We are touring Washington DC from 15 April to 8 May 2015, teaching classes, facilitating workshops, hosting slams and performing at the Louder than a Bomb DMV Teen Poetry Slam Festival (LTAB). And from 24 to 28 April 2015, we will visit New York, hosted by Bridges, a pan-African arts movement.
I have been invited as a crafter owing to a working relationship that was established with Split This Rock after their visit in 2013. I will be hosting craft workshops and teaching about entrepreneurial arts business to Washington DC students.
[WNS]: What are you most looking forward to during this trip?
[RSM]: My main objective is to explore the concept of “artrepreneurship”. This school of thought looks at how artists can establish successful businesses by finding viable opportunities in our environment,sustainably satisfying a need and making a living with our God-given creative skill. I am looking forward to meeting and networking with USA artists and learning how they have succeeded or failing in business, and how South African artists differ from or are similar to them regarding our own business models. Otherwise I am excited about interacting with new creative people and spaces, the poetry festival and hosting craft workshops.
[WNS]: You will be attending a slam. What are your thoughts on competitive art like slams? Some have said, putting money or a title up as an incentive for making art tarnishes the integrity of the work. What are your thoughts on this?
[RSM]: Like any artform, poetry is a journey. One goes through stages where your art is challenged and “priced” by the industry. A slam is a great stage that every poet needs to go through, to allow poets to interrogate themselves on the purpose of their art, and to challenge their art as a way to curb the risk of complacency, unnecessary arrogance and stagnation. One has to be brave and ready though, because slams can make poets think their art is not enough to be accepted as “dope or deep” when they get a last place. Poets have to understand the purpose of their work, that it is bigger than a stage – one poem, song or product does not determine the overall value of an artist.
[WNS]: Who will you be travelling with?
[RSM]: Our team includes Vangi Gantsho, Phomolo “Flex” Sekamotho, Bianca Mashile, Ishmael “Phiziks” Sibiya, Sphephelo “ZuluBoy” Mfundo, Refilwe Majoko and Lenah Mashiya.
[WNS]: You aren’t a poet but have been a part of the WNS family for years now. How did the relationship come about and what does your presence add to the poetry movement?
[RSM]: Everyone is a poet. The relationship started with the belief that artforms can complement eachother and from seeking relevant markets for our hand-crafted RORA around Johannesburg. So 2011 became the year in which I started selling at WNS events and eventually became one of the sponsors of the monthly open mic slams and some of the previous WNS festivals.
RORA is grounded on the #PassionIsPurpose belief, which seeks to say that when one is able to discover their true passion, one is a step closer to knowing their true purpose. We would like to be known as such. We would like to believe that we inspire artists to adopt the possibility of making a living through art. We continue to provide quality products to the poetry community, and form new business relationships with arts organisations to find ways of growing the art sector.
Rolland Simpi Motaung is an Artreprenuer at Rollution Creations CC and can be reached via the following platforms:
Facebook page: Rollution Creations
Facebook group: RORA