Fritha Langerman: Subtle Thresholds.
Subtle Thresholds, an exhibition which explores infectious diseases, examines the complex inter-relationship between zoological, human and microbial worlds. Drawing on collections from Iziko South African Museum, University of Cape Town, and Wits Adler Museum, and including new artworks by Langerman, Subtle Thresholds draws attention to some of the contemporary debates surrounding biomedical images and artifacts. It is primarily concerned with the visual representation of infectious disease, focusing particularly on its position as ‘different’, ‘outside’ and ‘other’, and noting that classifications and representations of disease are culturally as well as medically coded.
Combining elements of science, art and social history, Langerman presents a collaboration between disciplines rarely seen in South Africa despite the many and meaningful links. Situated in the gallery between social history and natural history, the exhibition aims to create a conceptual bridge between the two areas within the museum by presenting a visual network of the relationships between zoological, human and microbial worlds, and exposing some of the cultural and historical mythologies that have contributed to the conception of disease as a state of otherness and separation.
Mandla Mbothwe: Ingcwaba lendoda lise cankwe ndlela. The grave of the man is next to the road.
Told in beautifully poetic isiXhosa with English translations projected onto a screen, this production explores economic migration and its impact, using traditional story-telling, rituals, song, physical theatre and multi- media. ingcwaba lendoda lise cankwe ndlela uses the N2 highway as the background to the play. The N2 highway up the East coast of South Africa links Cape Town and the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape, the traditional home of the amaXhosa. For years the Xhosa people have migrated to Cape Town along this route, and in recent years a flood of new arrivals driven by poverty have poured into the townships surrounding Cape Town, setting up informal settlements and increasing the burden on an already stretched local government infrastructure struggling to cope with the inequalities and backlogs brought about by the apartheid system. ‘We are all searching for somewhere to belong to, somewhere we call home, and it is unfortunate that we will depart this life still in search of that home. What we hunt for is not always what we really desire, so we remain on the road searching for what in most cases is already within us. We search for a fixed point: something to go back to, something to clutch on to, and something that we will leave behind for those following us. Home in an African culture is everything and the place or location is central. It is always associated figuratively and literally with words such as roots, the fall of the umbilical cord, the grave, earth, history, clans, and ancestors. If you don’t visit or don’t know where your home is, it is said that bad luck will follow you. Without home you are not protected. You are not fixed. You are just a wind.’
ingcwaba lendoda lise cankwe ndlela takes the audience on a journey deep into the consequences of migration on the fabric of the family. Drawing strongly on the stories, images and rituals that surround these journeys up and down the N2, the characters are faced with the disappointments and affirmations of the anticipated home, as new and old meanings are confused.
Jay Pather: Between body and text: re-imagining the body in Body of Evidence and text in Caesar.
The deconstruction of the body and of classic texts is a significant feature of post-colonial performance. From classical South African indigenous dances to Shakespeare, such text has emerged as a compelling framework for fresh if fragmented and rarefied reflections on our contemporary lives. The frames are important underpinnings of legacy in a society where legacy is highly contested, but also serve as points of irony, deconstruction and collapse, creating the necessary matrix for subjectivities and self-con- scious critique of a society in flux. In my reworking of Shakespeare’s play - Qaphela Caesar! - betrayals, power struggle, political loyalties and expediencies, prophecy and dislocated identities press against the overarching classical legacy of ubuntu, which was intended to reflect an immediate passionate, political moment.