The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA, formerly GIPCA) was launched in the presence of over two hundred people on Tuesday, 5 April 2016 at UCT’s Hiddingh campus.
The audience comprised artists and academics from a range of disciplines as well as representatives from organizations such as the Africa Centre, Cape Town Partnership and a range of embassies. The UCT Dean of Humanities, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu opened the event linking the work of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) and the new Institute. The Gordon Foundation was thanked profusely for their extensive support in the past years. The book launch of Relocations – Reading Culture in South Africa, signaled a culmination of GIPCA’s work.
Dr Saleem Badat, Program Director: International Higher Education & Strategic Projects at the Mellon Foundation outlined the imperatives of supporting the Institute. The various speakers (Zethu Mathebeni and Suren Pillay) and artists (iQhiya Collective,Khanyisile Mbongwa, Owen Manamela and Gabrielle Goliath) who followed signaled directions that the Institute will move in. This included a deeper awareness of the context for an Institute within processes of decolonization. Jay Pather, Director of the Institute, said:
“It is becoming clear that the work lies in questioning the boundaries between modalities – this is to say that it is not just music, drama, dance or fine art, where the audiences are not quintessentially one public, but a range of publics where space is not one space, but several, stable and mobile, gazed at and immersive., characters are not singular and homogenous, but complex, heterogeneous, and blur between ‘self’ and the playing.
The decolonizing project asks us for the conservatoires and modalities to be questioned, the simple question of access to a gallery space or a theatre is not answerable with a series of development programmes of bussing children into these spaces. The publics are not the problem, the problem may lie in the conception itself, the spaces, the modalities, the inherited claims to purity, the sets of codes available to a few”.
It was the final performance by Dean Hutton that spoke to these ideas with startling simplicity and immediacy. Hutton describes Goldendean as “an exploration of the fascination with the flesh, in particular the flesh of non-normative queer bodies and how they inhabit space, challenging the values we place on normalisation and assimilation”. Painted in gold body paint, Hutton immersed himself inside of the audience gently but assertively forcing a confrontation with notions of visibility and invisibility.
The programmes for the ICA are a continuation of those championed by GIPCA. There is, however, a stronger research focus with the development of the postgraduate programme in Interdisciplinarity, Public Spheres and Live Art. The following is a brief summary of the programmes:
1.Postgraduate Programme in Live Art, Interdisciplinary Art and Public Spheres
The ICA’s MA and PhD Programme, launched in February 2016, is intended for a wide range of artistic practitioners. Through the integration of creativity and research, the ICA offers students the opportunity to pursue research across disciplinary boundaries. The ICA offers scholarships to enable promising applicants to enroll in the programme.
There were thirty-five applications in 2016; thirteen were selected and nine enrolled this year. Another four will enroll in 2017 and a call for additional applicants for 2017 will be made later in the year.
The ICA recently released calls for six Live Art; two Curatorial; four National and four International Fellowships with an emphasis on scholars from the African continent. ICA has already received an overwhelming number of proposals.
Fellowships will provide artists and academics with time on campus, access to UCT’s facilities, the opportunity to engage extensively with UCT’s research community, and interact with the ICA’s postgraduate cohort.
Fellowships enhance the professional development of fellows by affording them the time and resources to delve into a specific area of their work and will allow the ICA’s postgraduate cohort the opportunity to engage with, and be mentored by, outstanding artists, curators and researchers.
Engaging with questions of intersectionality, postcolonial imaginaries, the postcolonial body, and the decolonisation of institutions and curricula, local and international artists and researchers have responded with challenging proposals. Those awarded National and International Fellowships will interact with the Institute and its postgraduate cohort, in realising interdisciplinary art projects and research, extend critical public conversations. The ICA is currently processing a diverse spread of curatorial proposals from multidisciplinary artists in Brazil, India, Mozambique, Europe, the US and South Africa; from established curators like Thembinkosi Goniwe and artists such as Zanele Muholi, to new voices such as Nala Xaba, and public art activists from the Harare Academy of Inspiration, Khayelitsha.
3. Interdisicplinary Events
The ICA will continue to host unique interdisciplinary projects including colloquiums, performances, exhibitions and film screenings. Past events this year include:
Kicking off the year was intersect, on 12 and 13 February which brought academia and the creative arts together to interrogate the intersecting themes of race, gender, class and sexual identity
intersect included keynote addresses by:
Pumla Gqola – Laughter balanced on a tear: Imagination, Institutions and Irreverence ; Kopano Ratele – The Singularity of the Post-Apartheid Black Condition; Mandla Langa – Before the Time Runs Out and Panashe Chigumadzi – Feminist enough? : What and whose agency counts in African women’s fiction? Participants included Shose Kessie, Elelwani Ramugondo, Zethu Matebeni and Adam Haupt. Also included were performances by Koleka Putuma, Sethembile Msezane and Sbonakaliso Ndaba’s Indoni dancers as well as ascreening of Khalo Matabane’s film Nelson Mandela: The Myth & Me.
b) Infecting the City Sessions
ICA continues to collaborate with the Africa Centre in its Infecting The City Sessions programme, which started on 29 March this year, extending interests in Public Spheres. Infecting the City Sessions continue in April as follows:
- ITC Session 2: 12 & 13 April– St Georges Mall. Starting point: 11:00 – corner St Georges Mall & Waterkant Streets
- ITC Session 3: 23 April– Delft (Kasi-2-Kasi Festival)
- ITC Session 4: 30 April– Khayelitsha (Kasi-2-Kasi Festival)
c) The Third Space Symposium
Taking place from 13 -15 May 2016, this Symposium will explore the imperative to decolonise curriculum, and the role of the creative arts in provoking change.
As a starting point, the Symposium draws on Homi K. Bhabha’s notion of a hybrid “third space” that “displaces the histories that constitute it, and sets up new structures of authority…which are inadequately understood through received wisdom”. Is it possible to speak of an equivalent “third space” in the creative arts?
The ICA has already received a wide range of proposals to present at the Third Space Symposium – both academic papers and creative artworks – from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, Switzerland, Namibia, America and more.
d) Collaborations with IZIKO Museums of South Africa
Commencing with the 40th anniversary of June 16th, ICA and Iziko Museums will probe ideas of intergenerational tensions and dialogue. Events will also take place on Women’s Day (probing further issues of intersectionality) and the In_herit Festival during Heritage Week which will probe issues of inheritance, tradition and modernity.
4.Public Lecture Series
Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series
The Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series is one of the Institute’s most widely known projects. Begun in 2010, the lecture series aims to engender an exchange of ideas and opinion, structured around a specific text or piece of work that is of interest or importance to the public
Interdisciplinary in its approach, the lecture series offers members of the public, and UCT staff and students opportunities to engage with a diverse range of prominent speakers – national and international writers, artists, scientists, public figures, researchers and activists
Medical Humanities lecture series
Presented in association with UCT’s School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, this public lecture series speaks to the growing interdisciplinary field of medical humanities, in pursuit of intellectual synergies and their application to medical pedagogy and practice, as well as the politics of the body and embodied life.
5. 2016 and 2018 Live Art Festival & Symposium
A trailblazer in Africa as one of only a few festivals on the continent dedicated to live art, the biennial Live Art Festival (LAF) has its beginnings in the successfully run LAFs of 2012 and 2014. The 2016 LAF & Symposium will take place in November and both the 2016 and 2018 Festivals will again showcase the innovative and transgressive artworks of emerging and established performance artists
In order to develop a robust and meaningful discourse around live art, the ICA will introduce a discussion component to the Festival – the LAF Symposium.
6. Anthology on Performance Art
The ICA is in the early stages of producing a pioneering anthology of writing on contemporary SA performance art – to be published in early 2017. This anthology will address the paucity of writing on performance art with new critical essays that explore where performance art in our country is at right now, the key themes and issues which artists are confronting, and the wider national and international context in which these performances are situated
For further information, please visit www.gipca.uct.ac.za or call + 27 21 650 7156.
Image: Professor Sakhela Buhlungu opens the launch of the ICA.
Image by Rob Keith