Design for Performance Research Hub: Performance and Curation in South Africa – Two Perspectives




London College of Fashion 20 John Princes St


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20 Jul 2015

17:30 to 19:30

This presentation and panel discussion builds on Sequins, Self and Struggle: Performance, Pageants and Public in South Africa exhibition and symposium held at the South Bank Centre as part of the Mandela weekend on 17th and 18th July.Professor Jay Pather, Director of GIPCA: Curating the ephemeral: site, spillage, slippage and overflow in contemporary South African performance.

Originally a term of custodianship over objects, ‘curating’ has been squeezed into a one-size-fits- all approach. How much of this slippage helps or hinders time based art and performance? Within the particular context of a troubled, suspended South African present of dreams deferred, Pather also considers curatorial ideas that wrestle with this instability and diverse publics. Drawing examples from Infecting the City Public Art Festival, he considers the performed and temporary remaking of place in a scarcely transformed Cape Town as a metaphor for elusive futures. Drawing examples from GIPCA’s Live Art Festival, he also considers the curation of extreme and visceral performances with relation to the body, its excesses, vulnerabilities and resilience in a time of renewed crisis.

Dr Siona O’Connell: Centre for Curating the Archive, University of Cape Town

In this presentation, Dr Siona O’Connell examines the archive through two case studies from Cape Town, namely Miss Gay Western Cape and Spring Queen pageants in an attempt to think about broader questions of representation, memory and freedom in post-apartheid South Africa.  She suggests a consideration of archives that fall beyond the mainstream. Importantly, she will argue that it is in looking to the practices of the oppressed that we can begin to imagine the production of a different kind of knowledge in how we live after oppression. These questions have profound implications for post-1994 South Africa, as they seek to confront legacies of historical injustice that continue to play themselves out in often tragically violent ways on several socio-economic levels in South Africa. O’Connell suggests that the work of creative and curatorial practice demonstrates that we do not have to work within old categories in our urgent quest for understanding the human.

Dr Sarah Rhodes – Chair

Based in Southern Africa for many years, Rhodes practice-based research re-frames the nature of collaboration between designers and African craft groups, illustrating how co-creational agency can engender successful outcomes. She has contributed chapters on Southern African design to two books: Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today and Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective.

  • Design for Performance Research Hub at LCF

Image credit: Miss Gay, photograph by Ashley Walters The image on the right hand side; Eyes Closed with Piñata conceptualised by Thalia Laric and Steven van Wyk (Underground Dance Theatre) Photographer: Ashley Walters, Performer: Thalia Laric