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Sibuyel’ emphakatini | The 2023 My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival is back in the community

By Creative Feel

The 2023 My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival (MBMS) returns to a live event in the Emakhazeni community during Human Rights month, under the theme of Sibuyel’ emphakatini (we are back in the community). This year’s programme is dance and performance-specific, taking place from 22 to 25 March at venues in the area and at The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s (FATC) Ebhudlweni Arts Centre.

  • My Body My Space Public Art Festival Vincent Mantsoe
  • My Body My Space Public Art Festival Thulisile Binda

FATC’s PJ Sabbagha explains that, though the pandemic years gave way to some unique moments of innovation and adaptation, the return to a completely live festival of public art is welcomed.

“The MBMS team is looking forward to welcoming both the public and performers to this year’s festival, given that the last three years of COVID restrictions were a challenge to us, and although we successfully ran the entire festival online in 2021 – a global first – there is no comparison to live performance,” says Sabbagha. “This year our programme includes an evening performance at Ebhudlweni Arts Centre, and programmes running in Machadodorp. Sibuyel’ emphakatini (we are back in the community).”

My Body My Space Public Art Festival 2023 Mcebesi Bayi Sibikwa
Mcebesi Bayi of Sibikwa PHOTO John Hogg
My Body My Space Public Art Festival 2023 Thapelo Kotolo of Sibikwa
Thapelo Kotolo of Sibikwa PHOTO John Hogg

The large-scale international festival, curated by FATC, has put out socially and environmentally conscious work since its inception in 2015. This year’s edition will bring artistic works curated around Human Rights issues, based on each artist’s interpretation.

It includes site-specific performances with one night at Ebhudlweni Arts Centre on 24 March, and the day of 25 March in Machadodorp (eNtokozweni).

Commissioned public arts-styled, site-specific performances, called The Central Nervous System Programme (CNS), will run on 24 and 25 March. This is a programme with a difference, as audience members are guided on foot or travel by car through the streets of Machadodorp to see the diverse performances that involve both established and community-based artists.

The Arteries Programme is a fringe programme shaped by community activations and performances in Machadodorp/Emthonjeni, Belfast/Siyathuthuka, Dullstroom/Sakhelwe and Waterval-Boven/Emgwenya, and runs from 22 to 24 March.

My Body My Space Public Art Festival 2023 Lulu Mlangeni
Lulu Mlangeni and Khaya Ndlovu in KGANYA. PHOTO by Shudufhadzo Lubengo

Audiences can look forward to performances and iterations by Vincent Mantsoe (SA/France), Ashely Jordan (UK), Oupa Sibeko (SA), Frederic Dussoulier (Reunion), Jabu Makuwa (SA), Smangaliso Ngwenya (SA), Nicholas Aphane (SA), Lulu Mlangeni (SA), Thulisile Binda (SA), Kasi Shack Theatre (SA), Drama For Life (SA), Thapelo Kotolo and Mcebesi Bayi of Sibikwa (SA), Vuyani Dance Theatre (SA), Moving into Dance (SA), The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative interns and local cultural dance groups (SA).

This year’s programme features performances and workshops aimed specifically at children, youth and people with disabilities. It also includes performances by FATC’s Local Education in Arts Programme (LEAP) participants. Over the years, Drama for Life has become a core partner in working alongside the festival and the FATC to reach more than 2 000 learners in schools and centres over a one-week period, preceding the commissioned performances that will be part of the CNS Programme.

  • My Body My Space Public Art Festival 2023 Smangaliso Ngwenya
  • My Body My Space Public Art Festival 2023 Moving Into Dance

Sibuyel’ emphakatini is an invitation to all the residents and visitors that travel through to join in person, to debate human rights, and to celebrate and support the artists and creatives who have been in lockdown.

Emakhazeni provides various accommodation options with leisure activities to choose from including trout fishing, horseback riding, and hiking. Should you not be able to join the festival live, follow MBMS and FATC on Facebook and Instagram for glimpses of the festival.

The 2023 My Body My Space Public Festival, Sibuyel’ emphakatini, is made possible with the support of the National Arts Council, Business and Arts South Africa, and the British Council amongst others enabling free access to performances. Creative Feel is the official media partner for MBMS2023.

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