Nhlanhla Mahlangu is the co-director of Dark Noon – a brutal reimagining of the history of America coming to Aviva Studios in March 2024. We discuss what art can do during turbulent times and what inspires him to keep making.

What do you think the role of art is in times of upheaval? 

Just like the Dada movement, Art gives a voice of humanity in times [of] capitalism. It gives human expression in a mechanised society, it calls out the senseless and futility of war and violence. Art is an expression of human fragility.

Why is it important for you to make art against the backdrop of the current moment?

Because art reminds us that after all we are human. It is also how we make sense of the world as artists.

South Africa fought for its liberation in four-part harmony… This is an expression because we sing for all occasions.

Nhlanhla Mahlangu

What issues does Dark Noon address and how?

Racist’s ignorance, land theft, distraction of family units and culture, the sickness that is white supremacy. Dark Noon addresses these issues with humour, wit, strong aesthetic which allows accessibility and entertainment whilst [being] thought provoking.

What art do you return to in difficult times?

Song! This is in a true South African spirit, a country that fought for its liberation in four-part harmony… This is an expression because we sing for all occasions… Could it be the reason why Apartheid lasted for so long in South Africa? Because They may have thought we were enjoying it... because we sang all the time… But that’s not completely true… There was blood.

Dark Noon - fix+foxy - © Sõren Meisner

What makes you feel empowered? 

Having a voice, having to travel, being the vessel to allow my ancestors to speak back to Europe through my body and voice.

Can you remember a time where art shifted your perspective? And how? 

The South African Struggle songs sang in the streets with fists in the air, sang to the armed forces. It made me believe music is godly – one can never lie in a song and he who sings prays double.

Is there an artist/collective who is speaking or responding to the current moment that you admire?

Centre For the Less Good Idea and fix+foxy – am I being buyouts? Yes. 

Is there a song that inspires and drives you forward?

Not Yet Uhuru by Letta Mbulu

Dark Noon - fix+foxy - © Sõren Meisner

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