1st Major Announcement: SA’s Longest-Running Public Art Festival Returns to Cape Town November 2023

INFECTING THE CITY makes a major comeback in November 2023 as South Africa’s pioneering public art festival of music, dance, video, visual art, and the spectacular, FREE of charge to all.

After a pandemic hiatus, dormant during the global recovery period and now staging an indelible comeback, INFECTING THE CITY musters the collaborative strengths of the University of Cape Town’s Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) with venues, institutes, and organisations across the City of Cape Town to deliver a partnership that places the Keys to the City in the hands of its artists and redefines the ambition of what a smart city can be.

This two-week fest from 15 to 19 November and 22 to 26 November 2023 promises an immersive experience to reclaim the streets of Cape Town with enchanting performances of excellence in the public realm. This year many of the works are also a re-imagination of social activism and civic existence. Representing the length and breadth of African and international live art talent and ingenuity, the festival’s curators, Prof. Jay Pather, Nkgopoleng Moloi, Maganthrie Pillay and Themba Stewart have put together a collection of artistic vision to morph urban spaces into new vistas that challenge and caress the sights and sounds of the Mother City.

The dynamic festival programme offers artists the opportunity to manipulate and interact with their environment to birth a blend of visuals, sound and technology experiences that transport audiences to new and engaging worlds. INFECTING THE CITY’s historic oeuvre, hails as a platform for established creators and rising newcomers to present innovative work, often on the edge of cultural scenes, that deliver world-class live art to veteran festivalgoers, unsuspecting pedestrians, inner-city communities, and enthusiasts alike.

This year’s overarching theme of social activism places energy into thematic ingredients that overlap, relate, and intersect at varying degrees of experience, including the right to change through changing the city; enduring residues of colonial structures of inequity; migration; housing; civil liberties; queer narratives; sustainability and humanity. Through processes of exploration and discovery, the festival curators chart ways of reconciling the personal, the public, and the private in a remaking of Cape Town where questions of universal rights are given an evocative voice and placed back on centre stage.

ICA Director and Professor at the University of Cape Town, Jay Pather: “Infecting the City Public Art Festival has always been a modest, tentative yet powerful looking glass into a state of nation. Artists take up with great enthusiasm and rigour the possibility of interacting directly with an open space and an unpredictable audience. Consequently, the artwork always feels immediate and direct, allowing currents for electric interaction as well as reflection as one walks on to the next performance and the next chance encounter.”

During the recent pause on public programming, the ICA received overwhelming feedback from stakeholders and creative communities, eager for a re-emergence of site-specific and engaging artwork. This far-reaching sentiment has encouraged INFECTING THE CITY curators to embrace the ever-growing appetite for live art, revealing an evolution of audience demographics within a variety of cultural formats, from the traditional to the avant-garde.

“A return to festivals has been an exhilarating welcome, but as we forge forward into the “next”, we must recognise the future of public art festivals in delivering highest levels of excellence, at no cost to the public, with audiences who maintain a growing taste for a variety of artistic disciplines in crowd-hungry environments – a future that also prioritises the financial hard facts. We are living in a time where a scarcity of sponsors and donorship leaves us questioning the limit to how long the Infecting the City Festival will continue to provide a platform for both public beneficiaries and the creative industries,” remarks Pather.

The line-up of INFECTING THE CITY artists will be released in batches. A full detailed programme with venues and times to be released.

Professor Jay Pather, “This iteration of the ITC Festival is an open invitation to all, not only to conquer Cape Town by participating and experiencing the 2023 programme, but more so to all people to start their own live art festivals in their neighbourhoods, on their streets and in their homes as cultural custodians and creative leaders in their own right and in their own spectacular genius”.


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