GIPCA’s Live Art focuses on body politics

The Live Art Festival, presented by the Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) overflows with work that is transgressive both in form and in content, with the body as a primary site of contention.

Since completing his studies in Theatre and Performance at the University of Plymouth, jamie lewis hadley has been working predominantly as a solo live artist, showing work in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Lithuania and Croatia. His current practice utilises his former career as a professional wrestler as a departure point to create live art performances, actions and installations that explore, both aesthetically and thematically: deterioration, endurance, pain and violence. He values blood as a communicative tool and attempts to use it to create images that are affective, challenging and beautiful. In this rose is made of leather; competing against, and subverting the use of a stack of ceramic tiles exactly his height; lewis hadley explores the politics of blood and masculinity through strategies of repetition and a display of physical endurance.

Cia Independente (Benjamin Manhiça and Matanyane Abílio) from Maputo, will present their provocative, stirring work entitled A Nudez. A work of quiet and startling vision, A Nudez makes use of a highly fresh and innovative dance and theatre language to convey strong themes of masculinities, tradition, modernity, power and vulnerabilities. Cia Independente’s participation is supported by Pro Helvetia through the regional programme with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

In a merging of diverse skills, Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren present a compelling examination of the manipulation of cultural heritage, and question the practice of looking towards tradition for solutions to contemporary problems. Uncles & Angels not only questions what the Reed Dance has become, but also hints at the sometimes curious relationship between young and outwardly innocent girls and the older, affluent and seemingly respected men that often dominate them. Uncles & Angels premiered at the Dance Umbrella earlier this year, and has since been presented by invitation to no less than six cities worldwide.

Feminine subjectivities come to the fore in various guises. The Future White Woman of Azania is performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga’s latest character construct. Born in 2010 the character has been performed in the Netherlands, Argentina, Johannesburg and recently was part of the National Arts Festival performance that the artist did in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky, to much acclaim. The character returns to Cape Town for a one-night-only performance, where ‘the future white woman…’ will take over the artist’s shopfront studio space on Hope Street.

Inspired by the artist’s responses at seeing white males repeatedly don blackface to play black women in the 21st century, in newly independent South Africa; reknowned actor and theatre-maker Warona Seane puts on whiteface as a counter conversation. The result is Buy This, in which she explores the nuances of visibility and voice in juxtaposition with the strong South African stereotypes of Caring Strong Black Mama and the White Supremacist Meneer.

In world far away (yet so close), where most things are unacceptable if they don’t fit into the Box, Portrait is an act of an individual who discovers that she possesses a secret: a way to get outside of the Box. This piece, by Cape Town-based artist Spirit Mba, seeks to challenge society’s perceptions of the female body, particularly as an object of eroticism and its sexual use in the media. Accepting that while hair exists as a mere fraction of our biological composition, it remains one of the single most dominating markers of our own attractiveness and identity; Strand is a performance art installation, produced by Nobukho Nqaba, Shariffa Ali and Sam Mabaso, that seeks to unwrap these complex relationships.

On the other hand, Thabiso Pule and Hector Thami Manekehla bring together their wealth of collective experience having worked with the country’s top dancers and choreographers, and in numerous international collaborative projects; in their intervention which provides a platform for men to express their feelings as never before. Penis Politics slams the cliché of masculinity perceived in males, by breaking the silence trapped within man, by allowing access to the same scale of emotional expression as is allowed, and deemed socially acceptable, for women. Tebogo Munyai also explores masculinities in his work. Qina ke Qawe is a searing, controversial and highly mediative piece that works with the body and its shadow, confirming this young artist’s growing repuation for works that embody risk, control and aesthetic clarity.

Live Art runs from Friday 30 November to Tuesday 4 December 2012 at various venues in Cape Town. Performances will only be staged once and, as with most live art, viewing room is very limited so members of the public are urged to book early. Tickets are day passes, which will allow audience members entrance to between 3 and 7 works, depending on the programme. In line with GIPCA’s policy to make such work widely accessible, tickets are inexpensive: R40 (students) and R70 (adults) per day. These may be purchased online from A full detailed programme is available from For more information, please contact the GIPCA office on or 021 480 7156.

Photo: Strand by Nobukho Nqaba, Shariffa Ali and Sam Mabaso