The ICA kickstarted its rich 2019 programme on Saturday 16 February, in UCT’s Hiddingh Hall, with the launch of its ground-breaking book, Acts of Transgression: Contemporary Live Art in South Africa. The launch featured an immersive line-up of addresses and reflections by from the Dean of Humanities Shose Kessi, editors Jay Pather and Catherine Boulle, and contributors to Acts of Transgression Bettina Malcomess, Mwenya B. Kabwe and Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga; as well as a performance by acclaimed visual artist Sikhumbuzo Makandula and singer/songwriter Mthwakazi.
Acts of Transgression, published by Wits Press, is a collection of critical essays in which 15 writers explore the interdisciplinary and radically transgressive field of contemporary live art in South Africa. Set against a society that is chronologically ‘post' apartheid, but that continues to grapple with material redress, land redistribution and systemic racism, Acts of Transgression finds representation of the complexity of this moment within a performative art form that transcends disciplinary boundaries and aesthetic conventions. The essays are accompanied by a striking visual record of over 60 photographs. Professor Megan Lewis, writing in the journal Theatre Topics published by Johns Hopkins University Press notes that: “The diverse and passionate contributors to this volume… represent the future of South African theatre and performance scholarship.”
The 2019 Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series launched on 26 February, with a line-up that included acclaimed and award-winning writers, artists, academics and filmmakers. The theme underpinning the series was drawn in part from Kodwo Eshun’s essay, ‘Further Considerations on Afrofuturism,’ in which he writes that ‘it is clear that power now operates predictively as much as retrospectively.’ The present, Eshun argues, is saturated with articulations of the future commissioned by various powerful actors, ‘that are primarily concerned with making futures safe for the market.’ The intention for this Great Texts series was to offer talks that intervened in the production and distribution of these futures. The work of imagining futures, Eshun says, ‘constitutes a chronopolitical act’ – a radical attempt to re-engineer the present.
The series featured:
26 February: Nelson Maldonado-Torres
28 February: Masande Ntshanga, Mohale Mashigo & Lauren Beukes
14 March: Dr Ebrahim Harvey
20 March: Nadine Cloete
16 June saw the hosting of the fifth Black Art & Communities at Heart (BACAH) conversation, titled Exploitation of Black Bodies in the Arts which took place at the Khayelitsha Art School and Rehabilitation Centre, organised by former ICA fellow Mandisi Sindo.
On 17 October, the ICA in collaboration with Michaelis Galleries presented the launch of The Yoni Book, which featured Jay Pather in conversation with editors Reshma Chhiba & Nontobeko Ntombela. The Yoni Book is the second iteration of 'TheTwo Talking Yonis' – a solo exhibition of Reshma Chhiba’s work, curated by Nontobeko Ntombela. In this book Chhiba and Ntombela reflect on their working process, collaboration and collective thinking towards what has become an allied curatorial experience of the exhibition and The Yoni Book.
From 29 March – 14 April, the ICA in collaboration with Pro Helvetia, held a comprehensive interdisciplinary Live Art Workshop under the direction of Jay Pather. The Workshop was aimed at all creative artists, thinkers and practitioners in a range of fields with an interest in experimental practice and performance.
The Workshop engaged participants in a rich programme of workshops and lectures in choreography, sound and lighting design, dance and movement, amongst other disciplines, presented by esteemed practitioners and educators from South Africa, Mozambique, India, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, China, Palestine and Egypt. It culminated in a Public Showing on Sunday 14 April, where each participant presented a concept for a new live art work developed during the course of the Workshop.
Live Art Workshop teachers included: multidisciplinary artist Mohamed Abdelkarim, Jerusalem-based artist Noor Abuarafeh, choreographer and dancer Panaibra Canda, writer and theater worker Zhao Chuan, sound designer Bernhard Frederik la Dous, lighting designer Jonathan O’Hear, choreographer, curator and academic Jay Pather, interdisciplinary artist and educator Vaughn Sadie, performer and scholar Kapila Venu , and choreaographer and performance artist Nelisiwe Xaba.
In July, the ICA announced a call for applications for MA and PhD Study in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art, including the provision of 6 full scholarships. We received over 135 applications! Scholarship recipients will be announced to the public in the new year.
The Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, in collaboration with the ICA, announced two new Honours specialisation streams which will be offered for the first time at UCT starting in 2020: Live Art and Public Art.
Also in July, we invited chapter summary submissions for the ICA’s forthcoming peer-reviewed publication Restless Infections: Public Art in South Africa. This collection of scholarly essays will explore the Infecting the City (ITC) public arts festival, but its vision is also broader in scope, analysing works that have ‘infected’, challenged or transformed city spaces in South Africa within and beyond the numerous iterations of ITC. Where the study of public art in South Africa has often been limited to concrete memorials and statues, Restless Infections will extend beyond this point of interest to explore ephemeral performances, interventions and installations that probe a diverse range of issues. The selected writers will contribute to Restless Infections in their capacity as ICA Writing Fellows.
From 14 – 20 November, Independent Curators International (ICI) in collaboration with the ICA held the Curatorial Intensive in Cape Town. The Curatorial Intensive, a week-long professional development programme, offers curators the opportunity to discuss, among colleagues, the concepts, logistics, and challenges of organising exhibitions, public programmes, and other curatorial models. This programme was the sixth Curatorial Intensive in Africa since 2013, following past iterations in Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Marrakech, Dakar, and Accra. The Curatorial Intensive is designed to immerse participants in a rigorous schedule of seminars, presentations, site visits, and one-on-one meetings that support the process of developing an idea for a project into a full proposal.
On 20 November, the Curatorial Intensive culminated in a Public Symposium presented by the programme’s participants, featuring exhibitions and curatorial proposals developed over the course of the Curatorial Intensive.
The ICA invited students and the public to take part in a 3-day composition workshop with acclaimed artist Teresa Vittucci from 14 to 16 November, presented in collaboration with Pro Helvetia. Titled You, For Instance – On Making a Solo and the Art of Failure, the workshop created a space for participants to explore diverse ways of writing their own dramaturgy. The workshop looked at how practitioners can support one another in the often lonely process of making a solo work, and explore ways to give each other feedback, share artistic practice and collectively develop strategies to understand and utilise the potential of failure. The final day of the workshop included a showcase, where participants performed their solos in front of an audience.
Teresa Vittucci graduated from Vienna Conservatory, the Ailey School, Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD) and the University of Arts Berne where she received her Masters in Expanded Theater. Since 2013 she has developed a solo practice through her works UNLEASH (2012), LUNCHTIME (2015), ALL EYES ON (2017) and HATE ME, TENDER (2018). She was recently awarded the Recognition Prize by the city of Zürich for Work as an Outstanding Performer.
On 18 March the ICA announced that the Infecting the City (ITC) public arts festival would return to Cape Town in November. We invited both established and emerging artists to submit proposals to present at ITC 2019 and received over 100 applications!
ITC returned to the streets of Cape Town on Monday 18 November. The rich six-day programme featured a series of daytime and night time events presented by the ICA, and curated by ICA Director Jay Pather. Working alongside Pather for this iteration of ITC were two Curatorial Fellows: up-and-coming independent curator Amogelang Maledu, and acclaimed dancer and choreographer Elvis Sibeko.
Since 2007, ITC has transformed Cape Town’s communal spaces into spectacular outdoor entertainment venues showcasing an array of provocative and inspiring art forms and this year was no different: the 6 programmes that comprised ITC 2019 traversed the city, from the Company’s Garden to the Cape Town Train Station, from UCT’s Hiddingh Campus to Long Street’s Thibault Square, from the Castle of Good Hope to the Iziko South African Museum, and many more public spaces in between. Across these different geographical locations, the festival made works accessible to a diverse range of publics, inviting possibilities for rich engagement from intentional audience members as well as passersby who have varied levels of access to art.
ITC 2019 attracted excellent audiences, and the ICA quickly began receiving feedback on the quality of the productions, as well as the smooth-running of the festival. ITC 2019 ended with a bang on Sunday 24 November with a night-time programme of dance, interdisciplinary performance, music and more, that covered the five bastions of the Castle of Good Hope.
In June, the ICA welcomed Nolutando (Ethel) Ntlahla as Administrator.
Our projects next year will include the ICA Live Art Festival 2020, several public lectures and performances, a collaborative project titled The Feminine and the Foreign with the Nest Collective (Kenya) and the London International Festival for Theatre (LIFT), a collaboration with Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe) and the European Dance Network, and a collaboration with PEN International amongst many others.