What is LANA?

The Live Art Network Africa (LANA) is a network of African artists, researchers, academics, curators and writers practising and/or researching in the field of live art.

LANA was launched at the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), University of Cape Town (UCT) at three-day event, held from 17–20 February 2018, comprising a symposium, performances and networking sessions.

Read more about the February 2018 LANA symposium, performances and networking sessions.

Download the February 2018 LANA programme.

Why was LANA established?

Live art is an ephemeral art form, which often does not live beyond the few minutes of its performance. Artists have difficulty sustaining careers in performance precisely because it is momentary and unsellable. As a result of this inherent fragility, there has tended to be a lack of infrastructure on the continent to support the growth and longevity of live art. LANA was established to create a platform for live art practitioners to connect with one another and support the development of live art in Africa.

What is live art?

Live art is not a broad term for all or any of the conventional performing arts, although live art certainly blends disciplines such as dance, music and theatre. But its roots are much more diverse and radical.

In Africa, live art is borne of extremity. Its syncretic form has evolved in response to rapidly changing social climates, colonial imposition, cultural fragmentation and political upheaval; its affective tenor of excess and irrationality embodies the unpredictability of crisis. Many artists on the continent – artists like Nora Chipaumire, Jelili Atiku, Christian Etongo, Albert Khoza and Chuma Sopotela – connect contemporary live art with classical African traditions, demonstrating that the presence of live art on the African continent long predates its coinage as a form in the West. LANA proceeds in part from the need to recognise this lineage.

In Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, visual artists, writers, musicians and architects responded to the rise of Fascism with disruptive actions and enigmatic, illogical, often shocking constructions – forming a kind of non-sequitur movement which became known as performance art.

More recently, as artists of all disciplines transgress disciplinary boundaries in new and ever-changing ways, the definition of performance art broadened to include, not only body art, but digitised works whose ‘liveness’ might exclude the living body altogether. So it was that the more contemporaneous and inclusive term ‘live art’ came into being. Transcending boundaries of visual and performing art categories, live art is best approached as art making in the moment. Much live art is also characterised by opacity – on first viewing, performances often appear inaccessible and enigmatic.


See more information below about:

  1. The Purpose of LANA
  2. Festivals and platforms for live art on the continent
  3. The sustainability of live art and initiatives to support artists
  4. The theorising of live art through publications and conferences
  5. Live art education and curricula



Intentions for LANA, why the Network is needed, and how the goals of LANA will be taken forward:

  • LANA resists institutionalisation; the Network is guided by what and who the Network serves, seeking fluidity rather than a rigidly structured organisation
  • LANA seeks to develop a resource database of African practitioners, so that we can begin to archive live art offerings on the African continent, as well as keep up to date with new developments
  • LANA is a space to connect and share experiences, so that as African practitioners we are not alone with our ideas or experiences
  • The Network is cognisant of the need to expand: there must be a significant move towards inviting more artists to become members so that a wider community of practitioners is formed. A way to achieve this is for LANA-related events to be held in different countries on the continent
  • LANA can play a pivotal role in bringing young artists into the conversation
  • Questions to consider:
    • What are our capacities – as artists, academics, writers and members of the public – to sustain this fragile form in the midst of increasingly precarious resources and infrastructure?
    • Do attempts at live art’s longevity inadvertently pervert its form, dull its impact and compromise original intentions?
    • How far does the Network’s multidisciplinary focus extend?
    • How does one sustain liveness even in the archive? How do we bring live art into a digital archive realm?
    • How can LANA help to create viable economic opportunities for artists?


Live art (or multidisciplinary) festivals on the continent – where these festivals are taking place and what are the institutes/organisations that run them?

  • Residencies are important initiatives for artists and researchers to form and sustain relationships with a variety of organisations, places, cultures etc.
  • Money should not dictate the direction and curation of festivals and networking opportunities, but this is a reality.
  • LANA should serve as a ‘bridging the gap’ practice, and a gathering exercise to bring together as many collaborators as possible, in order to increase knowledge of and access to funding streams, residencies, festivals on the continent.
  • We have reached a point as artists where we are tired of hearing predominantly Western thinkers, concepts and theories. Africa has much to offer. LANA is critical for placing the voice of our own continent at the fore.
  • Questions to consider:
    • What organisations assist with travel? Maybe an Art Moves Africa campaign or platform for visibility?
    • How can the few live art festivals that exist on the continent be developed to serve local audiences

Festivals and platforms

A non-exhaustive list of some of the interdisciplinary arts festivals and organisations supporting interdisciplinary work on the continent:

  1. Live Art Festival (South Africa)
  2. ChaleWote Street Art Festival
  3. Insaka International Artists workshop
  4. ExitFrame
  5. John Muafangejo Art Centre
  6. Programmed for Innovation in Artform Development (PiAd)
  7. Journal for artistic research (JAR)
  8. Foundation for Contemporary Art (FCA)
  9. Asiko (Ghana)
  10. Raw Material Company (Dakar)
  11. Roadmap Africa Cluster
  12. Waza (DRC)
  13. Netsa (Ethiopia)
  14. Nest Collective (Nairobi)
  15. CIC (Cairo)
  16. Haraka (Cairo)
  17. D-Caf (Cairo)
  18. PAWA 254 (Nairobi)


Live (or performance) art is a paradox. Transient and anarchic, live art lives inside of its time; it is disruptive, anti-establishment and non-commercial. However, artists have difficulty in sustaining a career in performance precisely because it is momentary and unsellable.

  • Questions to consider:
    • What are the mechanisms that may further its life?
    • Do such mechanisms compromise the intent of live art’s disruptive form?


Conferences on the continent that focus on live art, African journalists, writers and academics who are reviewing and reflecting on live art in critical, generative ways, and books or collections of essays about African live art

  • There needs to be a rethinking of how conferences and/or symposiums work, so as to focus on how we can be seen and heard as artists on the continent. How can we rethink the academy and centralise our place in it?
  • Knowledge is embodied; knowledge lives and grows. How do we transfer this embodied knowledge in a way that allows for other knowledge systems to be seen and heard?
  • Googling ‘’African Live Art’’ yields few results. Of the limited papers and book chapters that explore live art on the continent, many are written by academics from outside Africa. The work of African artists and researchers needs to be better supported, and made more visible and accessible. LANA.com is a first step in this direction
  • Greater access to live art on the continent, and to under-utilised interdisciplnary art archives can, in turn, assist with more representative curricula content and teaching materials
  • Questions to consider:
    • How do we conceptualise live art in order for it to be accessible?
    • How can we bring together artists, librarians, archivists, online archives, and institutions?
    • Can LANA be used as a space for submitting and featuring papers/research withoutgoing through the formal publishing process? This could be seen as a ‘gate-opening’ of the academy.


Curricula that include the study of live art on the continent, and the success of these courses/syllabi in terms of take up from students and the impact on the quality of work being produced.

  • Exposing students to different art forms allows them to explore and understand intersections between disciplines
  • Fellowships and scholarships in interdisciplinary art are critical for building a body of research around live art, and for the ‘opening up’/broadening of the academy.
  • Institutions often reward obedience to the status quo and outmoded curricula, and make difficult the implementation of new and disruptive ways of teaching
  • Academia tends not to keep pace with what is actually happening – what artists are exploring and practicing.
  • Workshops and facilitated methods of teaching are sometimes assumed to be sloppy because they don’t take place in conventional settings, but workshopping is essential to getting knowledge close to practice.
  • Live art should be taught by academics/practitioners who are fully immersed in the form. Academics who do not have an embodied/visceral understanding and experience of live art are likely to misunderstand and misrepresent experimental work.
  • Questions to consider:
    • How does one hold and evaluate the disruptive, anarchic principles of live art inside of a university curriculum?
    • How can research carried out by students in Masters and PhD degrees feed into course content?
    • How can we build the study and practice of live art into drama/theatre curricula?
    • What is the role of education in shaping live art’s potential and, importantly, its future?