By Yonela Tsibolane
A confused “creative”
So, it has been around six months now since I have moved to Gauteng. The small-town girl in me is still adjusting to the distances between different areas, and just the general nature of people who stay here. It has been an interesting and unexpectedly insightful journey for me, thus far.
The biggest adjustment is navigating my way around the creative spaces that
I am trying to break into. Firstly, when writing this I wasn’t even sure what to call myself. The word ‘artist’ seems to belong to certain people, but then again so does ‘creative’. At what point are you allowed to call yourself an artist or a creative? I will use “creative” for now.
One of the first things I noticed since moving here from Cape Town, where I
was studying, was that the creative spaces are noticeably different. In Cape Town, it seemed to me that there was often a certain identity that you
had to take on if you wanted to join the “club of creatives”. This identity includes the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and even the things you tweet about. You had to be at certain events, and sometimes you just had to find certain things interesting. More often than not , I felt like the Cape Town creative space was an exclusive club that only accepted you if you ticked certain boxes. I sometimes felt like an outsider looking in, rather than an individual who could also access these spaces if and when I had the desire to do so. Truthfully this made me somewhat self-conscious
about my art and my creative expression. I was always so critical of what I wanted to do and who I was within these creative spaces, that I eventually just stopped creating outside of school.
I defaulted to simply just watching and praising the people who created the type of things that I wanted to. Often times I was too weary of telling people that I’m also a “creative”, I guess for fear of judgement or criticism – I don’t even know. It was especially difficult for me navigating around these creative spaces as a young black womxn , because we are always expected to do better and be better otherwise you fade away. (Not to mention being black in Cape Town is a whole other struggle, but that’s a story for another day) I haven’t really figured out the creative spaces in Johannesburg, but my experience so far is completely different from Cape Town.
I can say that there is more access to the creative sphere in Johannesburg, because of the different types of identities. You can be a Braamfontein creative, or a Soweto creative – and often times identities can even come together. I thoroughly enjoy that I can find young black creatives everywhere and anywhere I go, and they don’t all look, think and act the same. This has also pushed me to talk to people to discover who they are and what they do. There is however this constant desire to know certain people. People often feel the need to mention that they have worked with so and so’s manager or photographer, I guess to be taken seriously. I am yet to discover how open people are here to collaborating with you , and if they base it solely on who you are and who you know.
Having had experienced these different spaces has made me so much more conscious of myself. At the moment I would definitely say I am experiencing an existential crisis of some sort when it comes to my creativity. I am battling between making art for fun; making art to express myself and also making art to further my career – AKA, getting paid.
Also, what is my art ?
What do I call it and what does it mean? Who do I show it to and what will they say? Why do people’s opinions even matter so much to me? Wow. I don’t
think I’ll ever stop asking myself these questions, but more than anything else I think along the way I will find better ways of understanding why I
am even asking myself these questions.
Hey there !
My name is Yonela Tsibolane. I am a 23-year-old born and raised in the Free State and currently residing in Centurion. I recently graduated with a BA Honours in Live Performance from AFDA Cape Town and did my BA in Film & Media & Drama at UCT. I have a great passion for writing , performance and creating content which is relevant to me and my journey as a young black woman.