Combining the historic and the contemporary

NAF

The works of this year’s selected performance and visual artists exquisitely combine the historic and the contemporary.

Spearheading the Performance Art programme is 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for the genre, Dineo Seshee Bopape. The 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, Beth Diane Armstrong, explores scale, materiality, process and change in her award-commissioned solo exhibition, in perpetuumDineo Seshee Bopape’s Sa Koša Ke Lerole is a travelling museum that celebrates the contribution of chorale music to the rich cultural history of South Africa. Bopape says, ‘Having grown up with chorale music in both ears, as my father was in the choir and my mother a conductor and director for many years, it evokes my first ideas of positive representation while acting as a nostalgic memory of a community held within the music.’ In Excerpts From The Past, Sethembile Msezane taps into the red-hot conversation about colonial conquest of land in Africa in a performance narrated by sound clips from the colonial and apartheid eras and our current context. Khanyisile Mbongwa’s performance art piece Umnikelo Oshisiwe – Ibandla Lomlindo explores the nuanced and complex relationship between waiting and mourning: ‘To wait is to stay where one is, to be left until a later time, to defer until a person’s arrival, or remain in readiness for a purpose. To mourn is to feel or show sorrow for death, feel regret or sadness about loss or disappearance of someone, to grieve or lament for the dead,’ says Mbongwa.

Armstrong’s narrative refuses to settle for simple and basic answers to her questions, instead she continues to exhaust, push and challenge her material forms

Beth Diane Armstrong’s in perpetuum deliberately denotes ideas of repetition, an on-going, eternal and everlasting cycle – a forever and ever. Armstrong’s narrative refuses to settle for simple and basic answers to her questions, instead, she continues to exhaust, push and challenge her material forms. This serves to not only orientate herself in the world around her but so too her audience, who are invited to engage and perceive and then re-engage with spaces around them. Francois Knoetze’s exhibition Virtual Frontiers uses virtual reality panoramas and immersive sound pieces to tell stories of the past, present and imagined future of Grahamstown. In Footprints, curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, Andrew Tshabangu both contributes towards and subverts Johannesburg’s iconoography. One of South Africa’s most respected artists, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi makes a welcome return to Grahamstown, after winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1989. In They Are Greeting, a series of paintings, prints and sculptures, Sebidi continues the dialogue between tradition and the contemporary, the material and the spiritual, Africa and the West. The multidisciplinary exhibition Abantu beMendi and the performance art piece Sabamnye noMendi Centenary Commemoration explore the centenary, in 2017, of the sinking of the SS Mendi, a ship carrying black South African troops to the Western Front during the First World War.

“Virtual Frontiers” uses virtual reality panoramas and immersive sound pieces to tell stories of the past, present and imagined future of Grahamstown

Abantu beMendi wishes to explore the rich and complex meanings that the Mendi story has acquired through the arts. The story of the Mendi has been immortalised in poetry, most notably in Ukutshona kukaMendi, by S.E.K. Mqhayi.  The exhibition comprises major works by Buhlebezwe Siwani, Mandla Mbothwe and Hilary Graham; rare photographs and documents; poetry; underwater footage of the Mendi wreck; and footage of the ceremony at sea that paid tribute to the families of the men who died in the sinking of the Mendi. Sabamnye noMendi Centenary Commemoration is a creative interdisciplinary and multimedia interpretation of the sinking of the SS Mendi. This evocative live performance, conceptualised and curated by Mandla Mbothwe, goes beyond the theatre walls and into the public space to investigate and creatively interpret SEK Mqhayi’s poem about the sinking of SS Mendi just off the Isle of Wight in 1917, a tragedy in which more than 600 black South African troops drowned. Two exhibitions pay tribute to South Africa’s musical heritage in September Jive; SA Musical Graphics is a fascinating selection of album sleeves that offer a reflection on the country’s social history through the lens of the music industry; and My Favourite Sounds, which combines 47 portraits of musical personalities shot by Dwayne Kapula with online interviews.

‘Sa Koša Ke Lerole’ is a travelling museum that celebrates the contribution of chorale music to the rich cultural history of South Africa

For a short guide navigating through the programme, check out: National Arts Festival programme open for booking or visit one of our pages:

FILM  Disruption, Dissension, Decency, Disobedience & Defiance
THEATRE  Expect the unexpected
TARTUFFE  the story of…
MUSIC  Traditional, innovative & experimental
DANCE  ‘Curious, furious and poetic’
VISUAL/PERFORMANCE ART  Combining the historic and the contemporary
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