Taking art to the streets

Artist Rudi van der Merwe will be performing his piece, Trophee, on the Sea Point Promenade. It forms part of the live arts festival being hosted by the Institute for Creative Art.

A collaboration performance piece between artist Hasan Essop and a Bo-Kaap mosque, the oldest in South Africa, is just one of the many events at a public live art festival this month.

The festival is the third instalment of Live Art and is hosted by the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), which is based at UCT’s Hiddingh campus.

The ICA Live Art Festival is a Cape Town-based biennial event that blurs the fields of art, dance, theatre, music and literature to form a unique and boundary-pushing platform for interdisciplinary and live art on the continent.

The festival started on Friday February 6 and runs until Sunday February 26.

Associate Professor Jay Pather said the ICA aspired to make live performance art more accessible.

This year the festival will focus on African art with an emphasis on Cape Town artists.

“Performance art is very often confined to art galleries for wealthy people.

“We want to break away from that,” said Professor Pather.

Performance art, he said, changed perspectives and stimulated discussion.

“Live Art 2017 represents the intersection of visual and performing arts and culture with some of the enduring personal and political themes of our time and provides an arena for these elements to clash, marry, and influence each other. Our efforts to engage audiences and expand their expectations of the possibilities of live theatre and art brings to life some of the most esoteric and experimental work by key African artists,” said Professor Pather.

Rudi van der Merwe is one one of the artists taking part in the festival this month. He will perform Trophee on the Sea Point Promenade on Wednesday February 22.

Originally from the Northern Cape but now based overseas, he said: “I bottomed out during my teenage years and art was a way to reconstruct myself, at first as a spectator, eventually as a participant.”

He hasn’t performed in South Africa since 1999 and is excited about being part of the festival. “It takes art into public spaces where it can be seen outside of an institutional context,” he said. “It expands the possibilities of contact with an audience. The work in itself is expanded by the contact with the outside world.”

Trophee is a choreographic installationthat was created in Europe in the middle of winter. “It unfolds over 300m and creeps towards the audience in a seductive and menacing way. The piece is about conquest and invasion and is informed by my upbringing with guns, hunting and barriers.” .

Another artist taking part in the exhibition Hasan Essop, is well known for his work with his identical twin brother, Husain.

They will be collaborating on a live performance piece with Auwal Masjid in Bo-Kaap, the oldest mosque in South Africa.

A Gadat (prayer recital) will be performed by the family of Ismail ‘Mai’ Khan, and Essop encouraged both Muslims and non-Muslims to come and see the piece at the Artscape Theatre on Sunday February 19 at 5.30 pm. Essop said that both he and his brother had always had a inclination towards art, ever since a young age.

“That was all we cared about. When other kids played soccer on the weekends, we took a taxi to town to go and see the art galleries.”

He started exploring art in the form of photography and painting but has recently started interpreting it into live performance art. He said he wanted to use art to show the love and community spirit of the Muslim religion.

Essop, who grew up in Rylands but now lives in Ottery, said he was looking forward to his second solo show.

His brother has recently travelled to Saudi Arabia to teach art. “Me and my brother have been together for 31 one years so it is not a bad thing for our careers.”

He said religion was an important part of his life and his work. “Islam has experienced more challenges than it ever has in a way. It is important to showcase the love and community spirit in the Muslim community,” he said.

Over the next month, there will be multiple performances in different spaces in Cape Town. All of these events are free but booking is encouraged as space is limited. For more information visit the website at http://www.ica.uct.ac.za/ica/LAFbookingAndProgramme