Diversity kicks in around striptease pole at Grahamstown
THIS year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown has been a melting pot of activity with an eclectic programme of music, theatre, dance and art. Standard Bank’s young artist for jazz, Siya Makuzeni, left no doubt during her performances at the jazz festival as to why she was awarded this title.
The vocalist and trombone player treated audiences to phenomenal scatting.
Makuzeni’s compositions had a distinctly African feel, and moved away from traditional jazz with their use of voice looping and reverb.
The four-piece band, consisting of Mark Fransman ( piano and keyboard), Keenan Ahrende (guitar), Benjamin Jephta (bass and double bass) and Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums) that accompanied her at her second show, gave a tight performance.
Makuzeni proved her dexterity as a musician when she also played trombone during a piece composed by Jephta.
Many of this year’s performances slotted in well with the festival’s overarching theme, Celebrating Women.
A dance performance choreographed by Nadine Joseph for her PhD addressed rape culture and the male gaze. Although the show, called Looking/ Seeing/ Being/ Disappearing, made obvious references to the male gaze and sexual violence, it was also left open to audience interpretation.
“It seems like women are defined through the way men see them,” dancer Craig Morris said. .
“We played with those images. We didn’t want the piece to be overly didactic. The audience could project their own meaning on the piece.”
It began with three male dancers, Morris, Fana Tshabalala, Thulani Chauke and vocalist Daniel Nubian pulling down a large material lilly which had been erected around a strip-tease pole, revealing Joseph.
She spent most of the performance on the platform around the pole while the three men danced, their movements sometimes mimicking sterotypical male behaviour, at other times imitating male expectations of women.
Joseph’s jarring movements enhanced the image of objectification and her reduction to a sexualised being.
An exhibition which also explored violence, vulnerability and conflict, was that of South African photojournalist James Oatway.
Called Enemies and Friends, the exhibition consisted of images taken during conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
It included pictures of the xenophobic violence in South Africa in 2008 and a series of well-known photos of the fatal attack on Mozambican hawker Emmanuel Sithole last year.
The images showed many contradictions: civilians going about their daily business, walking past a bullet-riddled house, Congolese soldiers at the foot of a beautiful moun- tain, and young, innocent-looking child soldiers carrying weapons.
Oatway said although he was sometimes “scared to the bones”, he was driven to tell stories that were underreported.
This year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz, Siya Makuzeni, perfoming at the National Art Festival.