Aja Marneweck: Chronicles from the Interior: The Paper Body Collective on Puppets, Porn and Patriarchy.
A visual theatre artist and puppeteer, I look at the creation of women’s multi-modal adult puppetry performance in South Africa over the past 10 years. With a particular focus on the representation of femininity, desire and sexuality, the Paper Body Collective use a complex approach to the layering of performance, content and meaning to transform women’s puppetry and multimedia theatre in South Africa today.
Athi-Patra Ruga is a hastily ascending young artist whose work comfortably straddles the divides between fashion, performance and photography. Ruga’s approach is one of willful confrontation, underpinned nonetheless by a finely honed aesthetic sensibility. Dressed in a dizzying array of costumes, Ruga inserts himself, or rather the characters he is playing, into challenging situations. The artist’s interest in fashion stems from a complex understanding of the body and the politics its dressing reveals. He speaks about body proportions and gender-based preconceptions informing clothing, which render the body rather than simply cover it. His shift into performance has seen him importing this concept of clothing into energised situations, informed by a razor-sharp sense of time and place.
I intend to look at the operation of ‘identity’ in contemporary collaborative practice, based on my own use of pseudonyms and my work within several artist collectives. As someone who switches between the roles of academic, writer, artist and curator, my interest in this presentation is in the elision of a unique and consistent ‘identity’ or ‘place’ within art practice. I often work under the psuedonymn Anne Historical, a fictional Russian art historian with her own performative persona and curatorial agenda. As Gertrude Stein might have said, and I would agree, a name is not a fixed address. This other name, and the consistent practice of collaboration, are the means to re-invent a writer - academic as an artist – curator within the constraints of contemporary South African art’s over-investment in a singular ‘identity’. I will look briefly at some of the collaborative projects I have worked on over the last two years:
Doing it for Daddy: 15 minutes of frame and The Wrong Side of the River Tour You Deserve the Truth: a polygraph test on art, truth and money at the last Johannesburg Art Fair in collaboration with the Joubert Park Project; Do not Take, Do not Eat, This is not my body; Nothing Ever Changes (for the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees 2009) and An Histrionic with Peter Van Heerden and Erf 81 (Spier Infecting the City Festival, 2009).
As an artist I am committed to the ideas of excellence in art, experimentation, sharing, discovery and application of knowledge, to the benefit of the wider and younger community. My choreography thus will always seek to align its content and context to pertinent social issues – as mostly experienced in our country. My aim is to show that dance is a nonverbal and meaningful communication and not random movement. If we apply the same concepts to dance that we apply to speaking, then we do a better job of communicating, and our dance will be more powerful because it has the power to communicate in a universal language. Dance has been recognized as a means of expressing one’s self, celebrating life, or performing ritualistic healing. Now dance is increasingly accepted as a way to help work through one’s problems.
Artistically, I want to do more than engage in expression, I want to refine that expression through discipline, craft, patience and listening. I want people to feel more deeply, express more deeply and I want to lead the audience into unexplored terrain where I have to yet wonder.
Mlungisi Zondi: Performing Conceptual Art: Installations.
...to quote Meredith Monk, ‘I work in between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing, where theater becomes cinema.’ Following this notion of working in-between spaces, I have always been fascinated by the formula of hybrids. Create works of art that while belong everywhere, belongs nowhere. Creating boxed installations while trying to eliminate ‘the box’. The paradoxical qualities of the works are the springboards into which the jumps emanates and then the floating, constant floating looking for a place to belong and yet avoiding any sense belonging. Its that urge to incorporate all I ever loved about art, blend them, beat them, and produce a masala of conceptual artworks incorporating performance, art, video, and installations. These multiple hybrid have their inspirations in childhood memoirs and future aspirations...