CAPE TOWN’S PUBLIC SPACES REIMAGINED AS INFECTING THE CITY RETURNS
9 – 14 MARCH 2015
The countdown has begun to the Africa Centre’s 8th Infecting the City, Cape Town’s annual festival of public art that takes place 9-14 March 2015.
The Festival is comprised of artworks derived from a multitude of disciplines that include dance, poetry, music, performance and visual art. Collectively the body of work seeks to uncover and explore the underlying experience of the human condition. All the performances and programme items for Infecting the City are free to the public and take place in the central city. The 2015 Festival expects to build on the success of 2014, when 419 artists and over 32,000 audience members were in attendance.
The 2015 Festival is being curated to bring freedom of expression and unexpected meaning to the streets of Cape Town, whilst shifting artworks out of theatres and reinventing the notion of how we use and interact with our public spaces.
From the deeply poignant, to the thought-provoking, humorous and curious, Infecting the City’s 2015 programme includes work from both local and international performance artists. Says the Africa Centre’s Executive Director, Tanner Methvin; “Our intentions for Infecting the City 2015 are to provide a unique moment in time when all our complexity can be laid bare and felt by everyone. Where we take that exposure is up to us.”
A sample of the artworks includes: Living Room Dancers by Swiss choreographer Nicole Seilers, in which audiences are invited to view dancers through binoculars as they dance simultaneously at the windows of an apartment block. Johannesburg-based artist, Sandile Radebe, brings us Colour Me In, in which he presents us with an old City map depicting the geographic lines of racial segregation and asks us to redraw and colour in the City we want to see.
Nicola Elliot, recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance (2014), will present a piece called Chalk which explores how the delineation of chalk can change meaning, whilst Jacqueline Manyaapelo and Khayalethu Witbooi ask some important questions about South Africa’s education system in UnEducated. Berlin-based artist Hilla Steinert and Elize Vossgatter will make connections in The Braid by plaiting a braid using grasses they have collected. Audience members are invited to contribute materials to plait into the braid. Other works explore social issues and events such as Marikana and the 2014 kidnapping of 273 girls in Nigeria.
Works in the Festival can be experienced either as part of a route, or independently – and often experienced unexpectedly. Routes will be activated by day and night to ensure there are plenty of spaces to enjoy refreshments and conversation along the way. 90% of the programme has been released online and will be complete by 15 February 2015 – including information on all the routes. Visit and return to http://infectingthecity.com/2015/artworks/ to view confirmed programme items.
This year, the Festival’s curation has changed to a team approach. Several curators; Mandla Mbothwe, Farzanah Badsha, Nadja Daehnke – and Mandisi Sindo, as curatorial intern – join, Jay Pather, who leads the curatorial team. Having curated a number of festivals previously, Pather says that bringing in new curatorial perspectives brings fresh energy to the Festival: “Working with a team of curators allows us to explore further and open some new territory. Each individual curates an allocation of artists and productions that follow various routes through the City, so there is sure to be sharp differences in perspectives from programme to programme, which will serve to enrich this growing Festival.”
Three major sponsors have partnered with Infecting the City this year: the National Department of Arts & Culture, founding sponsor Spier and the City of Cape Town.
The National Department of Arts & Culture’s Moleleki Ledimo notes that Infecting the City stimulates local artistic participation. “It further contributes to growing diverse creative industries – visual arts, music, dance, film, storytelling, whilst bringing Cape Town to its own people. As diverse as it is to its audiences, it gives the public new senses of ‘looking, hearing and language’, as it challenges and engages them.”
Founder sponsor Spier‘s CEO Andrew Milne comments; “Spier is a proud partner of Infecting the City. We look forward to the annual transformation of Cape Town as people from all backgrounds are engaged through the arts and the city comes alive with new perspectives.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Councillor Garreth Bloor agrees: “The City of Cape Town welcomes the Festival’s use of its most well-used and recognisable spaces. It’s a great activation of public space and it furthers inclusivity. ”
Additional sponsors include: Santam, Pro Helvetia, Western Cape Government and the Goethe Institute. For the first time, Infecting the City partnered with crowdfunding platform, Thundafund, to diversify the works included in the Festival by selecting ten works that called for public funding.
About the Africa Centre
The Africa Centre was established in 2005 as an international centre for creativity, artistic excellence and intellectual engagement. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, the Africa Centre’s social innovations extend across the continent.
Africa is confronting a myriad of issues, both real and imagined. These are wide-ranging and include access to employment, education, healthcare, housing, water, power and sanitation. The complexity of addressing these issues is held not only in the facts, or the practical, but also within perception.
Looking at the continent both from the outside and from within, the mainstream message that defines Africa rarely articulates the subtlety and nuance of the people or their existence. The clichés and commonly held notions of Africa and Africans as poor, corrupt and criminally inclined, crowd out a more balanced view of the extraordinary diversity and creativity of everyday existence.
It is within this combination of reality and fiction that the Africa Centre has found its purpose. Africa Centre’s intention is to use Pan-African cultural practice as a tool to: manifest what otherwise would only sit in our imaginations; release new ideas and make them freely accessible to receptive audiences; and ensure that people living on this soil can define for themselves what is possible and what their reality looks like.
Although grand in its ambitions, the Africa Centre is not trying to solve the continent’s challenges, but rather to provide alternative ways of seeing them, offer solutions and create models that can be replicated and applied by others. Today the vision of the Africa Centre is brought to life through a range of programmes presented both in live format across Africa, and through virtual media for anyone to engage with. Africa Centre’s current projects – Artists in Residency, Badilisha Poetry X-Change, Everyday African Urbanism, Infecting the City, Talking Heads and WikiAfrica – all celebrate and encapsulate what it means to be in Africa today and what is conceivable for 21st century Africans.