(Photo: Nelisiwe Xaba in Uncles & Angels, by Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren, photo by Gilles Rammant, 2011)

GIPCA’s ground-breaking Live Art Festival will take place in various venues around Cape Town from 30 November to 4 December 2012, and promises a plethora of provocative and memorable experiences for audience members.

The Live Art Festival, presented by the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts and subtitled ‘Make-up your Mind’, seeks to be a space for interrogation and exploration of contemporary art forms.  Embodying themes of presence, identity and gender, the inaugural Festival comprises 30 artists who emerge from a wide range of fields, often collapsing disciplinary boundaries. This sprawling series of events will take place in various venues, including the Cape Town City Hall, UCT’s Hiddingh Campus, roadside pavements and a farm.

‘But is it art?’ must be the mantra of our time – both an earnest question and a cliché that inspires irritation and impatience. Conflicting ideas about how we perceive and not just what we perceive, the collapse of established systems based on prejudice, and postcolonial subjectivities; have all contributed to a healthy and robust bewilderment around contemporary art, particularly that emerging from South Africa.  Translate that into performance or live art, and the risks are greater, the innovation sharper, the boundaries barely discernible and the befuddlement bordering on vertigo. Now more than ever before, the point of view of the individual spectator is most important in their encounter with fresh work that sits on an edge.

Uncles and Angels, a headline performance by live art diva Nelisiwe Xaba and experimental filmmaker Mocke J van Veuren, typifies the essential interdisciplinary nature of the Festival.  When featured at Dance Umbrella this year, the work was described on Artslink.co.za as “uncomfortable… but done with intelligent intent, wry humour, a superb partnership and brilliant technology”, heralding what will “surely become a signature work in years to come”.

The Festival features a range of established live artists, most of whom will premiere new work, in interesting spaces around the city. These include John Nankin (co-founder of the ground-breaking Glass Theatre in 1979) who will perform at ZINK on Erf 81 in Tamboerskloof; Hlengiwe Lushaba Madlala; Athi-Patra Ruga decked out in a shop front, bathed in purple neon; James Webb and Christian Nerf at the City Hall; Julia Raynham on the Grand Parade; and the formidable Tossie van Tonder, who takes on the towering City Hall Auditorium.

International contributions include those of Swiss director Boris Nikitin who will present two works – Imitation of Life and a startlingly innovative take on Woyzeck. Cia Independente from Maputo will present their provocative, stirring work entitled A Nudez. Nikitin’s performances are presented with support from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg; Cia Independente’s performances are supported by Pro Helvetia through the regional programme with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Jamie Lewis Hadley from London will present a work which Lois Keidan, co-founder of the trail-blazing Live Art Development Agency (UK), called “beautifully conceived and exquisitely performed”. Hadley focuses on using repetition, duration, blood and violent acts as strategies to interrogate the spectator’s capacity for complicity, making work to disgust, excite and provoke and promote spectator autonomy.

An important focus of the Festival is the inclusion of work by young artists, producing fresh new directions. Tebogo Munyai stunned audiences at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown with Right Inside, presented on the Main Programme. Interdisciplinary trio Shariffa Ali, Samkelisiwe Mabaso and Nobukho Nqaba will present an evocative installation involving an endurance performance. Other artists include Murray Kruger, who has already developed a strong presence at events such as the Johannesburg Art Fair; Spirit Mba; the energetic duo Gabriella Pinto and Iman Isaacs; Richard September and Themba Mbuli.

Contemporary approaches to art and technology feature strongly, exemplified in the work of Sanjin Muftic and Richard Antrobus. Audiences can expect anything from sublime installations by light artist Vaughn Sadie and composer Dean Henning; quirky, highly-crafted video by the award-winning Michael MacGarry; and heady, detailed installations by Leila Anderson and Stan Wannet; to the intrusive, anarchic Yaat Party by Trudy van Rooy and Chase Downes; a provocative performance by Thabiso Pule and Hector Thami Manekehla; Warona Seane’s Buy This; and a work featuring three androgynous queens produced by renowned writer and performer Siya Ngcobo, with dancer Llewellyn Mnguni and filmmaker Art.

Free events leading up to the Festival include workshops by Boris Nikitin; and the culminating exhibition by 2012 Donald Gordon Creative Arts Fellow, Jared Thorne at the Iziko South African National Gallery Annexe.  The Festival will also feature the launch of Post-Apartheid Dance – a collection of essays edited by Sharon Friedman including writing by academics such as Xolani Rani, to veteran arts journalist Adrienne Sichel.

The GIPCA Live Art Festival runs from Friday 30 November to Tuesday 4 December 2012. 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 Webtickets.co.za.

For more information, please contact the GIPCA office on fin-gipca@uct.ac.za or 021 480 7156.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to large scale events taking place in the city center, the Live Art programme planned for Sunday 2 December can no longer take place in the City Hall. These items will be absorbed into the programs scheduled on other days of the Festival. The curators have taken care to ensure that no work is compromised as a result.

The REVISED LIVE ART FESTIVAL SCHEDULE with all performance times is available for download.

Live 2012 Art Festival – Full programme available for download.

Live Art Festival Opening audio recording available for download.

Live Art Festival video recordings:


Please see the NEWS section of this website for additional information on performances and themes.

The Live Art Festival is kindly supported by the City of Cape Town’s Arts and Culture Department. “Dance and performance have always formed a significant element of our cultural heritage and it is with great pleasure that the City of Cape Town supports this innovative and exciting festival in bringing cutting edge creative ideas to the public.”
– Cllr Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member: Tourism, Events & Marketing

With thanks to Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Michaelis Galleries, Cape Town City Hall, Little Theatre Complex, Centre for Curating the Archive, Africa Centre and Art Week Cape Town.

Start: 30 Nov ’12

End: 4 Dec ’12

Cost: R40.00 - R70.00


Organizer: GIPCA

Email: fin-gipca@uct.ac.za

Venue: Various venues throughout the city

Phone: +27 21 480 7156