A Work in Progress is a Performance
During a group research residency in Hogsback, South Africa, we were intensely ingrained with historical archives on Land and Belonging. We visited a number of sites that gave us a differents perspectives on literature, knowledge and performance. At that time, I was in the process of creating new work or perhaps of developing existing work. I guess we were all in a process of discovering something during the residency. That process caught my attention, there is so much vulnerability and honesty in it.
My curiosity with the process of ‘creating’ continued to grow. I like the idea of giving life to something that will have an impact, I also like to understand how things come into existence,like a rising flower, the motives behind them, the mediums that inform them.. This, understanding is part of my artistic practice.
I had an opportunity to have conversations with performing artists who are currently in a process of making or developing work. I was interested in how they position themselves mentally, the spaces they consider their sanctuaries, and what they need to feel balanced and safe in their creative processes.
First I met Lolly Mhlongo, a cultural activist from Pondoland, Musician and a Storyteller. When we were having our conversation I was captured by her role in the arts: to present culture as a mode of decolonizing failed western systems in Africa by discovering, redefining and reintroducing pre-colonial social, economic and spiritual belief systems to their rightful owners.
Lolly speaks strongly about the subject of memory, our history, and how they are transported and produced. In our conversation, Lolly speaks of how strongly she believes in creating new technological, political and economic systems. She explains that we need not to dwell on the distorted western narratives of indigenous African philosophies but revisit them and redefine them in order to restore the African Kingdom.
In our conversation, we dwell on the importance of locating yourself when you are creating new work. We joked about our love and hate with the City and how bad it can effect one while developing work. Lolly boldly shared her background and that she owned a Villa. When I asked, she simply told me about reclaiming yourself from the world as self-love.
Our conversation made me realize it is important to create your heaven on earth and that it should not be based on material wealth but onwellbeing, safety, and love. I believe if you have those things and faith, you are surrounded by grace and your greatness will not be withheld from you.
In 2016, I auditioned at Flatfoot Dance Company (Durban, South Africa) to continue with my formal dance training in contemporary dance. This is when I met Tshediso Kabulu, he was a company member at that time.
Our friendship began on a strong note, I would like to think that is because we were similar, I love his ambitious, carefree approach in dance and his focus on his movement. One of Tshediso’s goals has been to choreograph work on his own terms and introduce new angles. This is very difficult in in the dance world because we are given formal rules,techniques, and tools to be a successful dancer by institutions.
In my interview with ‘Tee’ (Tshediso), I spoke with him about how he combines urban and local moves with contemporary and ballet, and his use of sound to add to his performance work. I appreciate his intentions because most of his work is created around humour, sarcasm. It is enjoyable to engage with whichcreates a welcoming space to relate with his work.
There was a lot of catching up I did with Tee, we both come from the same background and have gracefully landed in our respectful fields. That puts me at ease. I believe everything we touch and use as a tool to produce work has a significant role in our lives although we often refuse to admit it.
Emotions create art and conversation, this is why I went to Asanda Hanabe, a performer and contemporary dancer who has graced us with her presence on stage and on screen.
I was first introduced to Asanda as a performer. Her performance captured me and I became determined to meet her in person.
With Asanda, I spoke about the relationship between the body and the work, how do we build and let go of that relationship? Or is it necessary for an artist to have any kind of attachment with the work or character.
I have always had the belief that we are constantly performing our lives. Asanda’s performance in Cape Town during women's month reminded me how we might revisit traumatic events without building further trauma but by facing and forgiving some very difficult realities about ourselves.
Asanda’s work is built around vulnerability and seeking answers. In her journey, she confronts fear and many other personal things.. I learned that for her, this is not only in performancebut inreal life conversations that never received a seat at the table. Things we don't talk about,that is common in black culture. In her work, she's looking for ways to erase such behaviour and introduce the concept of love.
In my practice and these conversations, I have been deliberate in attempting to highlight voices, bodies, and objects that reflect human behaviour. I envision our performances as opportunities for people to find their voices, despite their marginalization or exclusion from public and social spaces because of their economic status, background, gender, or sexual orientation.