Posts Tagged ‘arts’

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“I like leaving things open-ended,” says Monique Pelser, as she stands in the centre of her art exhibition, Conversations with my Father. “Very layered but intentionally framed so that everybody who comes in has a different experience.”

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Porcupine headdresses and flashy fedoras adorned some of the 100 poets and writers from the Eastern Cape who attended the symbolic launch of this year’s WordFest. With beaded necklaces, djembes and cell phone cameras, the parade of participants was a blend of cultures and backgrounds.

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A walk around Festival exhibitions reveals sumptuous delicacies from wafer thin mobiles that float ethereally overhead to tiny paper parcels of images falling down a ladder. Loni Dräger sits in her chair, one of her wooden mobiles hovering overhead. The wood chips appear almost translucent around the edges, summing up the general air of unexpected fragility of her exhibition, Sensus.

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The arts are as much about business as they are about performance. While the Festival literally provides a large platform for productions, ticket sales can’t be relied on as the only means of making a profit. Production companies that come up with innovative ways of making long-term profit also manage to cover the extensive costs of showcasing their work, as well as enjoying financial buoyancy for the rest of the year.

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From colourful mosaics to history-bound collages – the Carinus Annex hosts a small exhibition with a lot of history. Aidan Westcott’s collages share the space with Riona van der Merwe’s mosaics for the first time. Westcott’s collages are made up of materials he has found in antique stores around the Eastern Cape. One main theme found throughout the works is hand-painted fish. The fish is a symbol of the subconscious noted by Karl Jung.

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The stall is full of interesting goodies. Glittering mobiles, intricately patterned bird cages and measuring spoons offering bites of love are just some of the things on offer at the Art at Work stall at the Village Green. Owners Ruth and André Marriott started Art at Work 11 years ago in Somerset West, with a view of assisting women in informal settlements in Cape Town who have been affected by HIV, abuse and rape.

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Down a nameless Grahamstown alleyway two guys stand huddled in hoodies, sketch books in hand, occasionally glancing up at the white-washed wall that is soon to be their canvas. Dieter Schonkenchk, more commonly known as ‘Doc’, is part of a graffiti crew from Durban who are collaborating with local and international top comic artists to create a – legal – graffiti wall on Anglo African Street. It is one of the many events related to the CO/MIX exhibition, the main exhibition of which is currently being held at the Monument.

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If you don’t have time to visit Mathias Chirombo’s Sacred Spaces exhibition at the Albany Museum, there’s always another option. For the first time at National Arts Festival, a virtual gallery tour has been uploaded onto the internet. The Rhodes New Media class, the geniuses behind CueOnline, have uploaded a three-dimensional tour of Mathias Chirombo’s Sacred Spaces onto

This exhibition investigates the overlap between the physical and spiritual worlds, and depicts the traditional Shona custom of ancestral communication. “To our knowledge, it is the first time the programme Photosynth has been used by a South African media organisation,” said CueOnline editor Jude Mathurine. The CueOnline team hopes to produce at least 10 photosynths at this year’s Festival.

Click here to see mathias Chirombo’s Sacred Spaces exhibition

For some people, gazing at an artwork, or even at the accompanying description, is not enough. Some want to ask questions, to talk about the work, to share the experience with others. For these people the Festival offers a series of Art Walkabouts, aiming to bring art viewers closer to the exhibitions.

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What is a home? And who or what defines it? From affectionate relationships to disastrous memories, a range of work at Festival explores the concept – how it can be many things, or nothing at all. Seven young performers from the University of the Western Cape tackle this question in Khululekani Emakhaya (“be free in your homes”). Reliving intimate memories, the actresses explore what home means to them – from a mom leaving her child orphaned because of Aids which she contracted when she was raped, to Granny singing away the sorrow before bedtime, and not fitting in because you don’t speak a language.

These personal narratives show how home isn’t necessarily a room or a place – instead it can live in our heart. It is who we surround ourselves with, and where we are ultimately heading in life. Ann, Anthony and Tess Gadd present visual art in Family Dialogue using their individual art styles in a shared studio. Bound by a love for painting, the Gadds’ art shows how home can let you discover what it means to be a family, as well as who you are as an individual.

Ann’s comedic sheep illustrations are different from husband Anthony’s classical paintings of nude women and daughter Tess’s dancing rainbow figures. And when your real home is a foreign planet, virtual reality may be the answer. City Varsity’s The Domain explores how students from different backgrounds create a virtual paradise they can control. In an increasingly unreal world, thanks to the internet, the production explores what it means to be oneself in a space that can be moulded and dictated.

Home, to some a place that provides comfort and a warm bed, may not be as fixed in a world where your personality and space are always changing. It can be an address or state of being, a real or created way of life, and a mysterious concept that leaves us without an answer.

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