Salim Djefari “Koulolounisation”(Circa 2023)
The Institute for Creative Arts hosted their bi annual event over the weekend of the 16 -19 February 2023. Based at the University of Cape Town the wing formerly known as GIPCA, the multidisciplinary institute. organised their performance gathering. This year was also an opportunity to launch the Live Arts Network Africa website. Under the directorship of professor Jay Pather and academic Refilwe Nkomo, the gathering featured artist from Africa and the diaspora with performers and theatre practioners from Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
Concerning the website the plans Jay Pather revealed that they want to make it interactive with the audience and cater for different languages with its themes related to feminism, memory, history and health. Audience members will suggest a performance artist, the goal being to expand the network with the these strategies. Since it is interactive it will also have an educational element, teaching people who are not exposed to different forms of performance art. Ritual, transgression and presence being forms that are prominent and the hope is to utilise the website for not just networking, but to connect with festivals and awards like the FNB prize here in South Africa. It will be launched in August this year.
Some of the works and performances in the gathering featured South African mutlidisciplinary artists and partners Simon Wood and Dr. Meghna Singh. Their video piece “Container, was staged in conjunction with as a site sepcific work p “In the Wake” a facet of the Gathering. The video is experienced with VR goggles was placed at Clifton 2 because this site is historically relevant due it being the site of a shipwreck during the colonial era. “Container” was also shown at the 78th Venice Biennale and the Tribeca Film Festival 2022. Another South African artist who performed during the gathering Qondiswa James, her work “Retch”.
Bernard Akoi Jackson has been performing since 2006, and held a residency at Stedelijk Studies in the early 2000’s. His work interrogates borders and beauracratic thresholds. The work has overt political overtones, the artist creates fictitious countries but uses traditional beauracratic strategies in a performance that compels the audience to participate. He also had audience members driven to different historic sites around Cape Town with the instruction to come back with information that stands out. Titled “Destinations – with anthem for the union…and where, from birth, would they have berthed, should a dearth of destinations have prevailed “. The work interogates movement and boundaries in urban settings through the logic of political beauracracy.
Algerian born and Belgium based artist Salim Djaferi performed his piece titled “Koulounisation” about the impact of colonial language on culture and the psyche. It is an experimental theatre piece that interogates the historic erasure that has ensued in previously colonised countries and the inevitable isolation individuals experience in the diaspora. “Boujloud: Man of Skins” is another experimental theatre piece by Moroccan artist Kenza Berrada. This powerful and emotionally wrought piece explores the impact of sexual abuse in African families. Told using a ritual Boujloud, a time when men wear sheep skin in honour of this mythological figure. Berrada’s work is poetic with a minimalists narrative structure unlike a traditional piece. Using visual elements like Vidoe, poetry and body movement.
The gathering also featured discussions about visibility and dissemination in relation to performance art. A discussion between Khanysile Mbongwa and Mlomdi Zondi took place on Friday the 17th around issues related to festivals and writing about this art form. Kenza Berrada, Qondiswa James and Nelisiwe Xaba held a discussion about their processes to create their works. This was in the spirit of multidisciplinary that anchors ICA in an intense day and evening of performances and talks. After their talk the audience made its way to Salim Djaferi. The gathering addresses issues of dissemination and exposure for artists in the diaspora. Running alongside the commercial Cape Town Art Fair it is a fresh alternative and perspective on the variety of art that the vibrant community in South Africa has to offer.