My Alex team set to showcase Youth Perceptions of Place

The My Alex team at Constitution HillThe My Alex team practising for their upcoming live performances at Constitution Hill.

Fifteen young people from Alexandra township, who have just come through a month-long crash course in artistic/entrepreneurial training facilitated by the JDA, are gearing up to give the public a whole new take on Alex.

The My Alex team at the Diepsloot Arts and Culture PrecinctThe team receive Autodesk Fusion 360 training at the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Precinct.#MyAlex - Youth Perceptions of Place is an exciting initiative by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) to engage with youth aged 18-25 on their experiences of Alexandra and their views on the township's future potential.

The My Alex 15, selected during open auditions held in April, have been mentored in graphic design, social media, performance, photography, online mapping and virtual reality design through a month of intense workshopping facilitated by four creative entrepreneurs.

The workshops included outings to cultural precincts in Newtown and Diepsloot, where the participants were exposed to a wide range of creative media and given the opportunity to engage with artists - including artists who grew up in Alexandra - working in these media.

Sello at work on his zineSello at work on his My Alex zine.The youngsters have also been running the My Alex Facebook page, where they have been recording and reflecting on their learning process and sharing their images, photos and ideas on Alex.

The process culminates with two events, both coinciding with national Youth Month, which promise to give audiences new insight into the perceptions, visions, hopes and plans that young people living in Alexandra have for the place they call home.

#MyAlex at the Basha Uhuru Youth Festival

The first takes place from 6.30pm on Wednesday, 15 June at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein, where the My Alex 15 will be fusing poetry, song, acting, bmx'ing, martial arts and rap in a special live performance at the Basha Uhuru Festival.

The performance will be accompanied by a mini-exhibition featuring photos, photo mosaics, photospheres and engagement panels on which the public can add their own memories and impressions of Alexandra.

#MyAlex - Youth Perceptions of Place exhibition

The My Alex team visit the Newtown Cultural PrecinctThe 15 participants take a lunch break at the JDA's offices during their tour of the Newtown Cultural Precinct.The #MyAlex - Youth Perceptions of Place exhibition takes place at 5pm on Youth Day, 16 June at the Thusong Youth Centre, 138 12th Avenue, off Alfred Nzo Street (formerly Roosevelt Street) in Alexandra.

The exhibition will include a multi-disciplinary performance by the My Alex team, as well as:

  • A photographic exhibition of the team's experiences and perceptions of Alex;
  • Google maps of places that have special meaning to the team;
  • Safe places, dangerous places, places to eat, places to play;
  • A 360 photosphere of their favourite and worst spaces in Alex; and
  • Space/opportunity for the public to add their own favourite/worst places to the team's Alex Google Maps.

The team have also created four zines - one that looks at the past, one at the present and one at the future of Alex, as well as one for Alex kids - that will be distributed both at the Basha Uhuru Festival and at the #MyAlex exhibition.

Project facilitator Mariapaola McGurk says the process was designed to provide a creative platform for young people to express themselves in their own way rather than "the way organisers and reporters would like", thus enabling them to give their best expression of themselves and their experiences.

McGurk says it is the first project of its kind to happen in Alexandra, adding: "I think it will be interesting to see how the final exhibition will look, because it will be guided by the 15 youths."

  • For more information, and to look back on the month and see what the My Alex team have been up to, see www.facebook.com/MyAlex2016 or follow #MyAlex