The Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) is presenting the Hot Water Festival, from 14 – 16 October 2011.

Dance icon Tossie van Tonder, director Kyla Davis, poet Mbali Vilakazi, artist Fritha Langerman and filmmaker Jacqueline van Meygaarden will come together alongside respected scientists Peter Johnston, John Parkington and Babatunde Aboidun in this unique programme which probe the relationship between the threat of climate change and it’s representation in the creative and performing arts. There is a growing consciousness of the abuse wrought on our natural environment. Whether it has been pure greed, mis-management, carelessness or at best, ignorance, the lack of sensitivity towards our only home has come back to haunt us.

The arts are well placed to develop a consciousness of habits and destructive behaviour. As mechanisms for empathy, compassion and awareness as well as pause for consideration and debate, the arts are powerfully placed to contribute to turning the tide on behaviour that may be destroying vital natural resources. Visually arresting, charged with metaphor and symbol, visual arts and performance have the power to move, startle and deepen one’s consciousness.

GIPCA’s Hot Water Festival brings together scientists and artists to look at what needs to be said and what are the most effective ways of saying this. In Panel 1 for example, titled ‘Finding a language’ participants will consider the hard statistics of climate change as well as looking for ways in which this may be formed into aesthetics. In Panel 2 panelists look at how best to communicate effectively the gravity of this subject. This panel features highly respected scholar and media specialist, Ibrahim Saleh, scientist Gina Ziervogel and artist Jean Brundrit. Panel 3 will look at whether structural changes may need to be made in arts curricula to incorporate notions of climate change. 

There are also several performances notably by Tossie van Tonder who will premiere her newest work, The End, and a Poetry Performance at the Opening by Mbali Vilakazi. Also at the Opening, will be Complicit, a performance installation by Brendhan Dickerson. In this work, a larger than life-size, fully articulated swimming polar bear fire-sculpture, weaves back and forth along a cable, 6m overhead, paddling and desperately looking for a chunk of ice; burning up, burning out, fading out and dying. The kinetic polar bear fire-sculpture is operated by two hooded puppeteers (reminiscent in their protective leather hoods, of medieval executioners). On the ground, like a Greek chorus, just outside the puppeteer’s field of movement, an array of singing kettles are set to boil on gas rings. As the bear burns down the kettles begin to emit an ever-increasing cacophonous whistling, piercing and irritating sound intended to evoke a sense of alarm, of impending catastrophe.

While the weekends programme features panel discussions and art works one event that brings these streams together is Earthforum, a workshop conducted by Dylan McGarry on the Saturday afternoon. McGarry describes Earthforum as “a stimulating and productive way of working in small groups to explore how we live together on this planet.” Earth Forum has developed a process of creative thinking and exchange that is not only inspiring, but enables us to go beyond just swapping opinions, argument and debate. Negotiation is useless if we don’t really understand what each other is seeing and saying. Earth Forum is at its most basic, an opportunity to engage with others.

The event will open with curator Virginia MacKenny’s talk about Threshold, an especially commissioned exhibition at the Michaelis Gallery. MacKenny, a Donald Gordon Creative Arts Winner for 2011, will expand on the ideas behind the exhibition which features artists who have created work that deal with climate change and the environment.

For more information on the full Hot Water Festival programme, phone the GIPCA office on 021 480 7156 or email

Tickets are R60 (Students for R40) for the weekend or R30 per day (R20 students) and are inclusive of all performances, the opening cocktail function, all lunches, teas and the full conference. Tickets are limited and can be purchased by contacting Adrienne van Eeden-Wharton on 021 480 7156 / or Gilly Hemphill on 021 880 0889.

HOT WATER 2011 – Full Programme available for download.

Hot Water audio recordings:

Welcome and introduction – John Parkington and Jay Pather audio recording

Opening addresses – Cormac Cullinan, Mbali Vilakazi, Virginia MacKenny

Staged conversation: Tossie van Tonder and Jaqueline Dommisse audio recording

Keynote addresses: Bruce Hewitson and Virginia MacKenny audio recording

Panel 1: In search of a Language audio recording

Panel 2: Communicating the Gravity of the Subject audio recording

Panel 3: Engaging with the Performing and Creative Arts Curricula audio recording

The Way Forward: Marking Networks and Closing comments audio recording

Hot Water video recordings:

Start: 14 Oct ’11

End: 16 Oct ’11

Cost: R20


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Campus 

Phone: +27 21 480 7156 

Address: Google Map 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa