TRAFFIC along Ingonyama and King Mapuru roads in Diepsloot came to a standstill, and passers-by stopped to gape at the unusual street performance.

It was held by community members and learners from Muzomuhle Primary School on Saturday, 2 July, who were celebrating the installation of public art between the taxi rank and the Jukskei River.

The project is expected to be completed in October.

Donned in head-turning costumes, the performers used imagery of the animal kingdom taken from a poem entitled “I love you, I love you not” to tell the story of everyday life in Diepsloot. “I love you, I love you not” was produced by the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network with cast, crew and creative teams drawn from the community and Muzomuhle Primary School.

Using a mix of song, dance and storytelling, the performers marched along Ingonyama Road towards Muzomuhle Primary in a carnival-style street procession.

Sharon Lewis, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) planner and strategist, said the aim of the artworks was to activate the community and help them tell their own stories of Diepsloot. “The performance is a way to involve the community and to help them to start seeing and understanding what is happening in their community.”

The project is being implemented by the JDA and its artwork curator, the Trinity Session, with community-based creative facilitation from Sticky Situations and the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network.

Stephen Hobbs, the director of Trinity Session, said the performance was inspired by a creative art workshop that was held recently to design the public artwork for Diepsloot.

“The performance is a physical manifestation of the ideas generated in the first phase community workshop and will further develop the artwork’s design via the sculptural interaction of bodies within the space outside Muzomuhle School.”

He noted that the artwork would add a layer of cultural meaning that would create an experience that people could relate to easily.

Thulani Mathiba, a participant, described the performance as an opportunity to showcase Diepsloot in a different light.”This is a chance for us to show people that Diepsloot is not a bad place, since we are always appearing in the media for wrong reasons,” said Mathiba.

Lucky Manyisi, another resident, said the performance was the first major activity to be held in the township. “We need such activities to be held regularly in Diepsloot; it will prevent our children from loitering on the streets,” said Manyisi, who hoped that it would become a regular event every year.