Prince Albert Arts Festival: An ancient space in the heart of the Karoo, regenerated

Daily Maverick | Marianne Thamm:


The first artists to make their mark near the Karoo settlement of Prince Albert were the Khoi-San, who interpreted this beguiling arid, ancient stretch of territory on the walls of caves and rock faces. In the 21st Century a host of significant contemporary artists will be exhibiting work during the town’s second arts festival from September 18 to 24. 

Prince Albert is not on the road to anywhere. It is a Karoo (from the Khoi word Karusa) dorpie you have to plan to visit. There are three roads to the village; over the breathtaking Swartberg Pass or via Meiringspoort or from N1, linking the Central Karoo to the coast.

Prince Albert, 390km from Cape Town and “home” to the character Anna K in JM Coetzee’s 1983 Booker prize-winning novel, The Life And Times Of Michael K, is a geographical space heavy with intersecting histories and cosmic significance. In Coetzee’s novel, Michael K returns to the farm of his mother’s birth to find it abandoned by its white owners, the labourers forcibly removed, the territory hostile to his very existence…


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