Current Imaginings, performance art, Public Art Project, reviews and ramblings, Vrystaat Kunstefees

Countdown to the Vrystaat Arts Festival has begun…!

July has arrived and that means that the Vrystaat Kunstefees is right around the corner! Not only are we working on some very thrilling projects this year, there are also some exciting new developments as part of the festival that I’m looking forward to, as well as some intriguing and refreshing productions I cannot wait to experience!

You may have noticed that we are working on two projects that will be taking place during the festival: #OnesieWorld and #AreWeTheOne? – more on these later…. 😉

An exciting new addition to this year’s festival is VROST – Vrystaat Open Studio Tour. VROST is an initiative of Vrynge and entails a tour through the art studios of various artists in Bloemfontein. The studios are located on various tertiary institution’s campuses, the inner city as well as in the city’s suburbs. During the tour you get to experience what happens behind the scenes when artists create artworks – you get to see how and where the magic happens.


There are different tour packages you can choose from: you can tour by yourself, following the route provided at the above link for R20. Alternatively, you can go along an in-depth tour which includes a relaxed tour through the studios of the of the Free State’s most acclaimed artists, transportation, a tour guide and a hearty lunch. The in-depth tour costs R250 per person.


vrost map

Lastly, you can also participate in a drawing and ceramics workshop hosted by brilliant local ceramicist Dina Grobler at her art studio. Participation in the workshop costs R200 per person.

This year in its second year, another new addition to the festival is Public Art Project (PAP). PAP is exciting because it moves art into the streets of the city centre, animating social spaces with a range of thrilling artistic happenings, site specific performances, installations, visual art and interdisciplinary collaborations. The intention with these projects is to be thought-provoking, to be supportive of local and national artists and to continue dialogues with international creatives.



PAP will take over Hoffman Square in Bloemfontein from 17 until 21 July and is free to attend. PAP will transform the city centre with public performances, installations, interventions, temporary sculptures, visual art, murals, impromptu flash mobs, mobile art galleries, a clothing exchange and free pap and sous. What an exciting line-up – wow!

I’m looking forward to a few Public Art Projects this year! AFriCanis by local artist Marius Jansen van Vuuren, Twist Theatre Development Project’s Beyond Trust and Dustbins, and Peter Burke’s Air Cabinet all promise to be highlights. Our very own Kezia Gerber will also be doing a live art performance, Perspectives of perception, during the Festival – more on this later!

A performance I’m particularly eager to experience is Wezile Mgibe’s In These Streets. In These Streets – an experimental exploration of live art and dance – is a new work by Mgibe, researched in Richmond, Northern Cape at Modern Art Project (MAP) during the OPENLab Residency July 2016.

I was fortunate to meet Wezile Mgibe a few weeks ago while he was doing research for this performance in Bloemfontein. This Port Elizabeth native uses live art and dance as a means of social transformation, incorporating informal movements to express South African narratives. He interrogates the dynamics of site, culture and place while exploring collaboratively driven, community-engaged artworks.

Wezile Mgibe, In these streets (2017) Research, Hoffman Square, Bloemfontein (PIAD)

The performance interrogates notions relating to being oneself in a world constantly trying to make one into someone else – it is an invitation to be part of a journey of self-discovery, facing one’s fears, forgiveness and being brave enough to leave the familiar behind. In These Streets is a combination of contemporary and improvisational dance which represents South African narratives. Mgibe explains: “It is about different life events of ordinary human beings that we interviewed during the research residency, the aim was to promote self love and self discovery and how they suffered from society standards and how dangerous to be in that situation. We learned that we all wear this kind of mask when we leave our households to be accepted by society, by our parents and friends and often they never knew who we are and what we going through till we bury the mask or the mask buries us”.

Wezile Mgibe, In these streets (2017)  Research, Hoffman Square, Bloemfontein (PIAD)

I asked Wezile some interview questions as well:

Corneli: How did you become a dancer?

Wezile: I always loved art and dance, I even get accepted when I went for auditions, but my parents did not want me to study dance. I was living with my cousin in Durban and went to a dance class for fun. There someone told me about auditions for a Dance Company training programme. I went, got accepted and I was also accepted by the Lottery Dance Programme. I have never looked back .

C: In what way is dance a contemporary art form?

W: Think about dance as the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space. For the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy or simply taking delight in the movement. Contemporary dance incorporates elements from many dance styles including classical, modern, and jazz.

C: How do you use dance to interrogate societal issues?

W: I introduce all the forgotten angles and movements of dance to address social issues. I also present relevant movements that are familiar to the society so that I can engage with the audience within the space and so that the audience can relate to the narrative. The movements that tell their stories provokes the audience’s emotions leading them as individuals to question their societal issues.

C: What advice do you have for prospective dancers:

W: To dancers – get all the necessary training and never stop training, keep going to different dance classes and improve your dancing and creativity

Finding your voice as a professional dancer is very important – it is not about how high you can kick your leg, it is about how high your creativity can reach. Dance for the love of dancing, to heal people and mostly so that you can make a positive change.


Quickfire round:

C: Your favourite meal:

W: “Umphokoqo” Simply maize meal cooked in a special way with sour milk

C: Chocolate or vanilla?

W: Chocolate

C: Bucket list city you want to visit?

W: Bali in Indonesia; Istanbul in Turkey and Chefchaouen in Morocco.

C: What music are you listening to?

W: Jazz and soul music – I also tune into Lauryn Hill



This is merely the first in a series of Festival related posts – keep watching this space!




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