“banothando” is the isZulu word for the shared loving feeling of a community. The title for this work came from one of the project participants when describing what links the people of the Early Morning Market* with each other.
“banothando” is a follow up of the collaboration between Mexican artist Lilia Pérez and Dough Jahangeer of dala that started with the interactive installation, Sawubona, produced in Amsterdam. “banothando” constituted a series of interactive portraits that use physical contact between people (spectators) and images of market traders, as an interface to the stories gathered by Rike and Lilia during, and immediately after, the World Cup. The piece explores the tension between the general enthusiasm for the spectacle of the World Cup, and the concern for the sustained livelihoods of the market traders.
When the spectator approached “banothando”, she was confronted with one of the market traders, observing her from the projected image of their market stand surrounded by the merchandise they sell. From this pose and the framing of the shot, the character seemed to be waiting for a customer. The character would carry on like this, breathing and blinking, sometimes smiling, until the spectator touched the screen. As soon as contact was made, the character started moving, responding with the same gesture, placing her hand and gaze on the user’s hand, following any route it follows. While the virtual and the real hand were touching, the spectator was able to listen to the trader’s stories about the market, life in general and the effect of the World Cup in their life and surroundings. When the contact stopped, the character became silent again. Trapped in this small sequence of gestures, the character and the viewer meet one another in an instance of simulated connection. Physical contact, so natural for the market traders amongst each other, but so rare between the predominantly Indian and Zulu traders, and the very often white visitors of the gallery, becomes a condition for communication as well as an ingredient for emphatic listening.
*The Early Morning Market, a fresh produce market in Durban, turned 100 years on the 19 May 2010. Despite a rich social, economic, cultural and political heritage, the municipality wants to remove the market and replace it with a mall. The municipality, who had wanted the development to be ready by the 2010 world cup, has been temporary stalled by the struggle to save the market. However, the future of the market is yet undefined. dala has worked closely with the Early Morning Market Traders Association for some time and has been involved in documenting the struggle since the first eviction notices in April 2009. As part of this process, Rike has been documenting the history of the market through the stories of the traders.