Signs saying ‘Danger Gevaar Ingozi’ may be plastered everywhere in South Africa, warning people away from potential harm, but as the name of the collaborative print workspace on the fringe of Maboneng, it is one of the few places in the country that young artists and simply curious members of the public could engage with printmaking on their own terms. With a focus on linocut relief printing, artists/printmakers/founders Chad Cordeiro, Nathaniel Sheppard III and Sbongiseni Khulu along with business partner and founder Anaz Mia, are seeking to carve out a new space within the cultural art-scape of South Africa.
The print workspace initially arose out of a longstanding friendship that formed between Nathaniel and Chad during their days as Fine Art students at the Wits School of Arts. This friendship was solidified over a shared love for printmaking and a belief in collaboration. This resulted in them collaborating on their Honours dissertation together, not a common endeavour in academic circles. Having been intimately exposed to spaces such as David Krut Projects, where incidentally Chad and Nathaniel met Sbongiseni while working there, as well as other printing spaces around Johannesburg such as Print on Paper and the Wits Print workshop, there is an awareness of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the existing models within South Africa. This is what DGI hopes to tap into, not only to establish themselves in the existing market, but in doing so, to change the game. It is probably this exposure, both to print spaces and galleries, which has impressed upon these three under-thirty-years-old creatives the need for autonomy and control within a system that doesn’t often seem to allow access to emerging artists.
Not only are Chad, Nathaniel and Sbongiseni trained and experienced printmakers, but they are also artists in their own right. Therefore, they understand that it is not enough simply to have a means of production without an appropriate platform for distribution of the work. An empty manor in Houghton that became accessible to them provided a perfect opportunity for a pop-up print show in early May, featuring their own work and the work of a number of other young artists who had printed alongside them at DGI. More such ventures are to come. Most recently, a number of monotypes exhibited in Pebofatso Mokoena’s solo exhibition ‘The Pebofatso Experience’ at Hazard Gallery, were printed at DGI. With Danger Gevaar Ingozi being in operation for just over a year, the space and the vision are still in its infancy, yet already the signs of vibrant possibility are showing.