Informed by the colonial history of their home country of South Africa, Wolff Architects addresses social inequities and the erasure of Indigenous landscapes and narratives. The film, Summer Flowers, is an extension of Wolff Architects’ 2019 CAB project looking at the life of South African writer, activist, and gardener Bessie Head (1937–1986). In 1969, in Botswana, Bessie Head built her house, Rainclouds, with the proceeds from her first novel When Rainclouds gather. It is in this house that she later, mostly in the evenings, wrote her landmark novel, A Question of Power. Today the house is a Botswana national heritage site and this film attempts to thread together her voice, her writing, her spatial practice and her conversation with the work of South African journalist and writer, Sol Plaatje.
Following the screening, musician and composer Cara Stacey; documentarian and editor Khalid Shamis will discuss the process and research of Summer Flowers with Wolff Architects co-founder, film director, and 2019 CAB Contributor Ilze Wolff. The pre-recorded conversation will be moderated by writer and artist Julie Nxadi. The group will discuss how the use of sound, archival materials, and storytelling bring remembrance to the vast life and work of Bessie Head, and her relation to collective memory of time and space in South Africa.
Directed by Ilze Wolff
Edited By Khalid Shamis
Original Score by Cara Stacey
Cinematography by Heinrich Wolff, Lerato Maduna, and Malik Ntone Edjabe
With kind permissions from the Bessie Head Heritage Trust and the Khama III Memorial Museum, Serowe
Produced by Wolff Architects 2021
Wolff Architects is a design studio concerned with developing an architectural practice of consequence through the mediums of design, advocacy, research and documentation. The Wolff team is led by Ilze & Heinrich Wolff who work collaboratively with a group of highly skilled, committed and engaged architects, creative practitioners and administrators.
Ilze Wolff is an architect working in Cape Town. She co-directs Wolff Architects with Heinrich Wolff, a practice that is concerned with developing an architecture of consequence. In 2007 she co-founded Open House Architecture, a research practice concerned with documenting architecture of Southern Africa and in 2016 she co-founded pumflet: art, architecture and stuff, a publication and research platform concerned with the black social imagination. She is the author of ‘Unstitching Rex Trueform, the story of an African factory, an interdisciplinary study of a modernist garment manufacturing factory in Salt River, Cape Town. Ilze’s main work as an architect is to reconstruct and seek out spatialities of collective freedom in conditions where this has been historically erased, violated and oppressed. Her belief in the ancient technology of storytelling finds its way in various forms of expression: architectural design, creative non-fiction writing, mothering, loving, film, gardening, teaching and prophetic organizing.
Cara Stacey is a South African musician, composer and musicologist. She is a pianist, vocalist and plays southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhoyane). She holds a doctorate in African music, specifically looking at the makhoyane musical bow from eSwatini (University of Cape Town/SOAS). During her PhD, she was an NRF Freestanding Doctoral scholar, a Commonwealth Split-Site scholar, and the recipient of funding from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and the University of Cape Town. Cara holds a Masters in Musicology (Edinburgh), and a MMus in Performance from SOAS (London). Cara studied various African instruments (makhoyane, mbira, uhadi, umrhubhe and budongo) with Dizu
Plaatjies, Khokhiwe Mphila, Bhemani Magagula, Tinashe Chidanyika, Modou Diouf, and Andrew Cooke.
Julie Nxadi is a writer, an artist, and the director of Ruth Arixoma which is a 100% Black, queer, woman owned cultural production and art studio established in 2020 in Salt River, Cape Town. Ruth Arixoma has produced such projects as The Mutha_Ship Landing, an art museum cum project space in Salt River Cape Town, and Ukhozo FM Stereo an online audio-visual variety show, and the company consults in basic and higher education institutions towards the betterment of institutional cultures with histories of exclusion. Nxadi was the 2020 Creative Artist Fellow in the University of Johannesburg Department of Sociology’s partnership with the University of Cambridge as part of the Gendered Violence and Urban Transformation project in India and South Africa, and prior to that was the writer in residence at the University of Stellenbosch’s English Department in 2019 after completing a research fellowship at the Center for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape where she read for her Master’s (Creative Writing) degree in English Literature. Julie continues to customize her career and interrupt the decadence of scholarship with art through film, video, audio, and literary experiments. She functioned as a creative director of programs at the Center for Being and Belonging, a non profit company concerned with institutional reform in the post 1994 South African public and private schooling system and continues to function as an agent of institutional reform. Julie creates for screen with Brown Flamingo Productions, a Black womxn owned production company concerned with rigorous storytelling in film and tv with one directing credit on an experimental feature length anthology film ‘Hyperlink’, and a showrunning and head writing credit for a series currently in developed titled ‘Model-C’. Julie has had writing published across multiple platforms including Huffington Post, Mail & Guardian, Chimurenga Chronic, Johannesburg Review of Books. She has also read work at the Edinburgh International Book Festival as well the Open Book Festival.
Khalid Shamis is a London born, half-Libyan half-South African director and editor of documentary films. Since 1997, Shamis has worked in the film and television industry in the United Kingdom, Middle East, and Southern Africa. Based in Cape Town since 2005, Shamis runs production company tubafilms and completed his first feature documentary Imam and I (2011) and his second film, The Colonel’s Stray Dogs, had its premiere at HotDocs (2021).
Shamis graduated in Film Studies and Art & Design History from Middlesex University in London with upper-class BA Hons, has held an associate lectureship position at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 2006 – 2009. He was an integral part in the running of Africa’s first Rough Cut Edit Lab and holds the prestigious South African Guild of Editors acronym. Shamis is currently a PhD candidate at the CHR at UWC.