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Sucker Bearing Beastie
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The MessengerThe Messenger - Raval Bar. C. Dr Dou 19. Opens January 19th - 8pm
MissYucki the character is a little pavement princess from Johannesburg, South Africa. She lives with her muti monsters, magic trolley and all the other gutter beasties that lurk in the city She loves to dream travel and concoct potions because she is a little witch doctor in training. MissYucki's ultimate ambition is to be crowned queen of all the little miss beauty pageants. She wants to be the ultimate glam yucki princess and spread pageant power far and wide. MissYucki loves to play dress up. She is a master of disguise and her super power is in fact her pageant power.
Muti and Magic
MissYuckis' muti monster minions, her gang of little yuckis, are intrinsically inspired by two widespread facets of African mysticism and folklore. Notably the legend of the African Tokoloshe as well as the practice of using Muthi (pronounced muti) to divine, cure, curse and heal. The tokoloshe is a perplexing entity. There are many varying reports which try to define the exact nature and characteristics of the tokoloshe but the over riding essence of them all deal with it being a paranormal creature. Mischievous in nature but not necessarily malevolent.
Some reports claim that the Tokoloshe is a dwarf like zombie. Some say that it has sharp teeth and a long probing tongue. Some say that it is a shape shifter, or a creature that only children can see, who puts a magical pebble under its tongue to make it invisible to adults. Some say its is a creature designed to tempt and mislead one Some say it is a debaucherous malefactor. All in all the Tokoloshe is as enigmatic creature of legend and dreams. Often feared, often manipulated and infinitely curious and beguiling.
Muti is more a mode of fact than legend. The word is used broadly throughout South Africa and essentially means medicine. It is a type of traditional non western style of medicine. It employs both sympathetic magic as well as brews of remedies conjured from blends of herbs, animal remains, sometimes human remains and always with a hint of enchanted faith, either auspicious or gloomy.
MissYucki mythology draws on the African urban landscape for inspiration and one should seek an understanding of Johannesburg in order to understand MissYucki.
Since the late 1980s Johannesburg has experienced a downward spiral of negative inner city trends such as high unemployment, poverty, deterioration of the built environment, rapid urbanisation, overcrowding and crime. However, Johannesburg is still the economic powerhouse of Africa and multitudes of people from all over the African continent arrive in Johannesburg to seek their fortunes. Trans-national migration has resulted in the most culturally and ethnically diverse Johannesburg ever.
However, the internationalisation of Johannesburg has given rise to a large measure of xenophobia. African foreign nationals are blamed for an overcrowded informal trading sector, the growth of the narcotics trade and general physical deterioration. This may or may not be true, but the fact remains the dynamics of inner city Johannesburg are as complex as they are varied and allow much room for an artist´s response and social commentary.
Neighbour is piled on top of relative in rows of dilapidated apartment blocks. The main roads are crammed with cars and there is always a taxi or a police van obstructing the flow of traffic. Street vendors jostle for position on the crumbling sidewalks to sell everything from individual cigarettes to vegetables. Car guards in faded garments whistle after potential customers. Groups of school children play on the pavements or crowd the arcade-game shops. Telephone lines crisscross balconies and reach down into the street. Informal telephone operators provide a service throughout the day and contribute to the complex social, economic and technological networks that cover continental Africa.
While this is characteristic of many cities throughout Africa (and the world), Johannesburg has recently experienced an intensified urban regeneration drive with varying degrees of success. This has resulted in islands of gentrified corporate developments amidst a sea of chaos. As the corporates fight to regain the inner city and the poor cling onto their livelihoods, downtown Joburg has become a space where high-powered businessmen can brush coats with the homeless and the destitute. This contributes to the creation of a multiple, dynamic, diverse, hybrid and fragmented spaces and identities. The streets of Johannesburg can be as cold and ruthless as exotic and vibrant. In this self-absorbed city, where the focus is always on winning the rat race (and score is measured in economic gain), people often become faceless and there is little room for sympathy.
About the Artists
MissYucki is Alba Poretti and Kathleen Cameron. Their work straddles an assorted range of artistic output including illustration, accessory and character design. Alba and Kat met while studying Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1999. With a shared love of all things sparkly, cute and yucki they began working together in 2003 on the Miss Yucki project.
From Johannesburg they have embarked on numerous intercontinental adventures and shown their work in South Africa, Mozambique, the USA, Rotterdam, France, Japan, and beyond.
Kat is currently living in Barcelona, studying Spanish and working as a freelance illustrator. Kat has worked for the Barcelona Metropolitan Magazine, she has illustrated several children’s books and is represented by the London based creative agency Advocate Art.
Alba completed a degree in Fashion studies from Parsons the New School for Design in New York in 2009 and lives between San Francisco and New York. Alba has worked as a freelance print - textile designer and is currently working as an apparel and accessory illustrator and game artist for the social network gaming company Zynga.