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Marche avec / walk with Bryan Mtembu (Betty Street)



Auteurs / Authors : Bryan Mtembu, Floriane Jan, Pauline Lepeu, Michelle Monareng, Mégane Mace, Irene Tchernooutsan, Grégoire Zabé, Natasha Christopher, Christian Mukenge

Description : enquête autour du personnage qui a donné son nom à la rue

Axes de recherche / Research axes (Play/Urban)  : People as infrastructure, Game / Play


In situ (may include different times > time 1, time 2, time 3, etc..)/ peut inclure différentes étapes > Temps 1, Temps 2,Temps 3, etc..

Medium : corps

Genre : ballade

Concept : Repérer des lieux suceptibles de laisser apparaître une histoire

Participants : Bryan Mtembu, Floriane Jan, Pauline Lepeu, Michelle Monareng, Mégane Mace, Irene Tchernooutsan, Grégoire Zabé, Natasha Christopher, Christian Mukenge

Durée / Duration : Une après midi

Ville / City : Betty Street, Joburg

Questions : Comment insuffler de la fiction dans un lieu ? Comment entrer en contact avec les habitants du quartier?



Medium : corps, table, caméra, moniteur

Genre : performance filmée puis diffusée sur moniteur

Concept : reproduire la ballade sur Betty Street autour de la table, mettre en avant la démarche adoptée

Participants : Floriane Jan, Pauline Lepeu, Michelle Monareng, Mégane Mace, Irene Tchernooutsan, Grégoire Zabé, Natasha Christopher, Christian Mukenge

Durée / Duration : 20 minutes

Ville / City : Vansa, Joburg

Date : 5 septembre 2012

Questions : Comment s’approprier un lieu?


Analyse critique / Critical analysis : Impossible d’y retourner une deuxième fois (recommandation des étudiants sud africains) pourtant une deuxième visite aurait été appréciable pour pousser le projet.


Protocoles (collectif) d’action / (collective) Action protocols : marcher, observer et poser des questions aux habitants


Récit d’Irène

At the beginning of the day, as the city start to be inundated with sun, we all «players» have to join the king kong’building situated in the new Doornfontein area.

Facing north, this place stays cold and humid. This micro-climate is the stage for our discussions in group and meetings with artists and today Sello Pesa and his dancers are coming.

Brian, one of Selo’dancer is our «godfather». In group, We start to talk  about the dance performance that we saw two days ago in a park. How they were ancored in the context. How they appear and disappear. We also talk about them work on the ground. They often dance at two millimetres distance from the grass and the sand remembering the attitudes of the other nameless passer-by having rest in the park.

So, as a tribute to this dance performance, we choose this two words «appear and disappear».

We start to play.

In one’hat, we collect all the words. An innocent hand has to dig in and with blind eye and chose two worlds.

For our team, the two selected words are «incident» and «death dance». Almost the exact opposit of our primary reflexions.

Brian has to lead us in a place of his choice. It’s not far, thought we still have to get there by car.

We park the car at the beginning of Betty’s street.

We are close from Art’s and main. This place is the fact of one building radiating over two streets.No more. It’s totally occupied by a branch of gallery and tendances shop. Cross the street and you will find yourself into an other dimension. Each street is an new dimension.

As we are walking further, people start to look at us. A bunch of whites and blacks  students wandering in this place is not a usual thing. Betty’s street ends up at Woluter street.

This street has a bipolar aspect. One side is occupied by man. The other by woman. Peolple are looking at us. Some girls of the team would tell me later how unconfortable this situation was for them. Honestly, I didn’t felt any men’look on me. I just felt as a total stranger. A feeling without any kind of nuances.

Our ballad is rythmed by some shops, old garages and laundery. Some chimicals are spread in the street, giving nice colours to the ground.

There are deads rats.There is old shirts. Old skirt. Old trouser. God, it feels like home. Except for the rat. As we are walking, we all have in mind this two words: Incident and death dance. They are giving to our tour a morbide connotation. There is some red and white  tape, like the one the police is using, displayed on the ground, surrounding a manhole.

We need to talk. We need to find a place where we can sit. There is a park. A peacefull place.

We make a link between Alexandra and Betty. Who is betty? Why does this street bear her name? Is betty one of the hidden women living in this place?

Her absence is everywhere.

Somehow a police investigation starts to take place in our mind.

Let’s ask «who is Betty?»Maybe city-dwellers knows about it.

Easy to say. The reality is that the women are not answering to our question; The only man who is incline to speak is slightly drunk.

We collect some clothes, somes records, some photos. Trying to compose a character.

One of the streets we are walking in ends up in a strange public park.

The place is quiet. We are silent. We are in circle.

We are staring at the ground. People start to look at us. They stop. We stare at the ground. We start to put on the floor, one by one all the objects that we found thinking about Betty. A credit card, a letter, a dress…We break the circle.

After 10 minutes, we leave the place without betty’s clothes.

At Vansa’ s we re-enact this death dance around the table. Not to far not to close. Just the way we felt about the space.Divided, looked-at, consciousness.

Grégoire’s photos


It feels as though we have come to know her, her presence still lingers. Yet she is chased away and not wanted just a street above, the men feel as though it is their home. Betty is absent. We walk into the Maboneng Precinct and do not know if Betty would be welcomed there or not but a street bellow, it is Betty’s turf. It feels a s though we morn for a person I feel,yet do not know, all over the streets her characteristics show. Does Betty even want us walking in her street? we are only but outsiders casting our gaze onto Betty and her street.



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