This is perhaps the most exciting blog I’ve yet had to write! My BFF and co-director, Kezia Gerber is doing a live art performance, called Perspectives of perception, during this year’s Vrystaat Arts Festival. Her performance, which is part of the PAP projects happening on Hoffman Square, takes place over two days – Monday 17 July and Wednesday 19 July.
Kezia and I met while we were both students at the University of the Free State. Nowadays, however, she lives in Jeffrey’s Bay, in the Eastern Cape, where she divides her time between painting and photography and organising music festivals, including this year’s Bring The Swell Festival as part of the JBay Winterfest.
As photographer, she focuses on experimental film photography; as is evidenced by the two performances she will be undertaking during the festival, Kezia is an abstract painter, drawing particular inspiration from the automatist creations of Joan Miró, the spiritual abstraction of Wassily Kandinsky and the French Surrealist movement, Salvador Dalí in particular.
With Perspectives of perception Kezia will take advantage of a performance art display to create a painting in front of a live audience. She aims to interrogate the notion of perspective from multiple angles, and therefore she will purposefully paint on a large-scale circular canvas laying on the ground. In particular, she aims to also involve her spectators and to make them aware of the differing implications and connotations relating to notions of perspective – both in their way of perceiving an artwork and their way of perceiving the world-at-large.
The choice of a circular canvas is vital since the circle evokes notions of wholeness and fulfilment. Therefore, as audience members move around the canvas they are also made to feel an awareness of unity – that despite our differences, and our different and unique perspectives, we are nevertheless part of the same whole. The circularity of the canvas emphasises the idea of unity and our own interconnectedness.
The setting at Hoffman Square and the execution of Perspectives of perception as a performance piece (rather than a finished work simply displayed horizontally on the square) is key. A central feature of performance art is that it allows interaction between artist and spectator, often also actively involving spectators. With this performance, Kezia aims to stimulate conversations – about art and the multiple metaphorical meanings of perspective, among groups of spectators who do not often engage with the arts in their day-to-day existence.
Kezia will place a large-scale – 5 meters in diameter – circular canvas on Hoffman square, laid down on the ground. This simple action immediately changes the perspective from which one views the canvas. Plus, because the canvas is placed on the ground, it becomes possible for spectators to physically move around it. As spectators move around the work, their perspective constantly changes – the notion is continually emphasised.
Perspectives of perception is a performance piece, involving the key elements of time, space (in this case, perspective in particular), the presence of a canvas, and Kezia’s own body as she moves around her canvas. She exploits performance art since it is an effective way to challenge audience members to think in new and unconventional ways, leading them to reassess their perspectives on art-making, themselves, their society, and how these notions are interlinked.
Sourcing inspiration from the automatic methods exploited by such Surrealists as Joan Miró and André Masson, Kezia will tap into the collective unconscious of the spectators surrounding her and watching her as she creates and paints her canvas. She will allow their emotions and sensations to act as a form of spiritual guidance as she enacts her performance.
Sitting in our office at PIAD, one winters evening, still working because the festival is about to begin (#geesbydiefees), I interviewed Kezia to find out more about her reasons for exploiting performance art and abstraction. She creates performance art since it involves using her entire body to make art – Kezia explains that, to her, a performance piece becomes almost like a dance. Performance also allows her to make art in alternative spaces, like on Hoffman square, and it allows her to engage with her audience in a direct and active manner.
Kezia reveals that abstract art feels more honest to her soul, it is ‘her’. Abstraction permits her to forget about the so-called ‘real’ world, so that she can paint what is real to her. Kezia calls herself an empath – she taps into what she feels. This is important, she believes, since our eyes can deceive us, and what we see in the world is not always true and real. When the spectator looks at abstract art, often they see something there that only they can see and in that sense, it is more honest.
Perspectives of perception is exciting, not only because it is an abstract performance piece, but also because of the large-scale, 5-meter diameter, in which Kezia will be working. She chose this scale so that both herself and her spectators can be fully immersed in the work. Kezia explains that, when one looks at a painting that is life-size (or bigger), it is easier to step into that world, to become lost.
I asked her if she has any advice for upcoming artists, and giggling she replied they must contact Audeamus Studios. Seriously, she says “Be true to yourself”, and remember that talent is not everything – if you are prepared to work hard, you can get anywhere. Don’t be afraid of the blank canvas, embrace the opportunity to create a new universe!
For the quickfire round:
Favourite meal? Bella Casa used to have a Bruschetta starter, that I hope will make a comeback thanks to this blog. Also my mom’s cooking and spaghetti bolognaise
Chocolate vs vanilla? Chocolate, although I love a vanilla cheesecake. I don’t think chocolate cheese cake works
Artistic goal? When I was younger I wanted to be an intern at the MOMA in NY, which honestly, is still a dream. To make art all over the world – my next goal is to do residencies everywhere. Lastly, to build our artistic empire, that creates a self-sustaining system for all artists
Bucket list city? Not only a city, but the whole continent of South America. I want to see all of them hahahah 😊