In association with several local and international partners, GIPCA offers members of the Cape Town public two unusual experiences at the Africa Centre’s 2013 Infecting the City Public Arts Festival.
One of the great socio-realists of his time, Charles Dickens captured the joys and tragedies of city life in his little-known non-fiction work, The Uncommercial Traveller. The book features people and places which inspired many of his future works and gives the reader a glimpse into the personal thoughts and opinions of a man fascinated by cities and those living in them. Dickens was particularly interested in the parts of a city which remain hidden from public view, and he could often be found wandering the back streets on late-night insomniac walks.
Using this approach of seeking out forgotten places and uncovering hidden stories, participants in Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre’s workshops explore the city and work in teams to devise, write and record short audio pieces over a five day period. Working with directors Owen Calvert Lyons (Arcola Theatre) and Raquel Meseguer (Punchdrunk), and acclaimed artist James Webb, 15 local theatre practitioners will develop creative and reflective audio-guided tours of locations in the city of Cape Town – journeys that allow audiences to see the city in a new light. The project will culminate in downloadable public guided tours of Cape Town, to be launched at the Infecting the City Festival.
Known in the UK for their innovative approaches to theatre Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre have worked closely with the British Council to reconceive The Uncommercial Traveller as an international project. To date, the project has travelled to Karachi, Melbourne, Penang, Singapore and Portsmouth.
Curated by Winnie Sze, the collaborative project, Under Construction, involves the meticulous construction and spectacular public destruction of a complex wooden structure in the District Six Museum to ask poignant questions around what it means to be a resident in the city.
Scottish artist Aeneas Wilder, currently based in Tokyo, is best known for creating large, complex structures using thousands of pieces of wood. The pieces are not affixed but self-supporting and balanced. After hours of precariously creating his work, it is ceremonially kicked – destroyed in seconds. Resonating with the history of District Six, Under Construction becomes about identity and architecture; self-built monuments that create institutional identities, and how they are challenged; how we read our bodies, relative to our environment: protected and sheltered, or humble and vulnerable.
After the collapse of the installation, UCT School of Architecture lecturers Mike Louw and Kevin Fellingham and their students will turn the wood units into furniture for the communities of District Six and the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay. In this way, the project becomes a cycle of creation, loss, and re-creation.
The Uncommercial Traveller audio guides will be launched on Wednesday 13 March and can be downloaded from the GIPCA and ITC websites. MP3 players preloaded with The Uncommercial Traveller can also be signed out from the Infecting the City Festival Centre (6 Spin Str) between 08:30 and 13:00 from 13 to 16 March, with a complimentary coffee and muffin. Under Constructionwill be viewable at the District 6 Musuem throughout the Festival. Viewings at 19:30 on Tuesday 12 and Thursday 14 March will form part of Programme B. The spectacular collapse of the work is scheduled for 17:30 on Saturday 16 March. Infecting the City takes place from 11-16 March and all works are free and open to the public. The full programme is available from www.infectingthecity.com, for more information on projects presented by GIPCA, please visit www.gipca.uct.ac.za
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Under Construction Photographer: Courtesy of Aeneas WilderPhotographer:
The Uncommercial Traveller Photographer: Courtesy Infecting the City 2013 Programme