‘give and take’ in public spaces

An exciting collaboration between Johannesburg-based choroegrapher Sello Pesa and conceptual artist Vaughn Sadie will be presented as part of the Infecting the City programme. Looking at everyday movements of the body performed in public space, their work explores how these are impacted by space and the elements that constitute it – light, architecture, material and surface.

teka munyika (‘to take and give’ in Tsonga) was first commissioned for Johannesburg’s 1st Conference on Public Art, held at Main Street Life. The performance juxtaposes social practices that pre-existed in the area against those that are being introduced with the influx of newer, middle-class residents. Exploring relatively commonplace actions such as braai-ing, hairstyling and sun tanning, these ‘everyday activities’ are contrasted against a formal event, to create an absurd and surreal experience that brings into question notions of cultural or leisure practices in the context of urban renewal and gentrification.

Having received a scholarship to study at the Northern Contemporary Dance School in Leeds, choreographer and dancer Pesa has carved a career as an internationally respected performance artist. As Artistic Director of Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre, he has been commissioned to create work both locally and internationally, and has toured extensively, collaborating with many artists, but always retaining a South African element in the work. Ntsoana is a dance collective that generates and implements concepts framed within socio political contexts, and that is committed to exploring the diverse and evolving South African cultures and cultural practices through the medium of contemporary dance. Ntsoana’s commitment to exploration of performance in alternative spaces, and collaborations with artists from other disciplines, gives their creations an edge of tension which makes each site-specific performance unique, and helps towards making dance and performance art accessible to a more diverse audience.

Sadie completed his MFA at the Durban University of Technology and lectured at Vega, The Brand Communications School for six years. He has been awarded two residencies: one at the Bag Factory Artist Studios, Johannesburg (2010); and the second with Twenty Ten Reasons to Live In a Small Town, in Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal (2010-2011). In recent years, Sadie has become increasingly interested in the role that artificial light plays in our perception of the spaces we occupy, and in response has developed several ongoing projects around the theme. His Inhabitant, a collaboration with Pesa, explores the impact of artificial light on the body as it moves through urban spaces, and was awarded iDANS Critical Endeavour Award for 2011 at the annual festival held in Istanbul.

This collaboration between Vaughn Sadie and Sello Pesa is presented by The Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. teka munyika will be performed by seasoned artists Sello Pesa, Brian Mtembu, Humphrey Maleka and Murray Kruger at Prestwich Place on Saturday 9 March at 8.15pm (duration 45 minutes).