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February 16, 2010

Infecting the City: The Spier Public Arts Festival

Infecting the City

Infecting the City 2009, photo courtesy Yasser Boodley

Infecting the City, or the Spier Public Arts Festival, is taking place in Cape Town for the third year, in February.  The theme for 2010 is Human Rites and the idea behind the concept “Infecting the City” is that of infectious enthusiasm, laughter or empathy. The organisers want people to be infected with energy, colour, excitement and surprise at having public art in inner-city spaces, where they may not have noticed it before.

Public art is work designed to be staged in a public space, generally outdoors, and accessible to a wide audience. For the art world, this often signifies ties with work that is site-specific, involves the local community and, in some instances, even sees community members collaborating on the project. 

This year’s event was launched on February 13, 2010, and will continue until February 20. It is presented by Africa Centre, a non-profit organisation that aims to create a platform for Pan-African art to act as a driver of social change. The African Centre is also responsible for the Badilisha! Poetry X-Change, Pan African Space Station music event and Spier Contemporary. Through programmes such as these, they hope to celebrate African heritage, create new models for presenting art in an accessible manner and re-examine the creation, identity and role of art. 

The art forms on view for Infecting the City range from performance art and dance, to interactive installations and debates. Artists are local or from Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Zimbabwe, China, the USA or Greece. As a site-specific festival, all artworks relate directly to the festival’s location – the Mother City – under the theme, Human Rites. It asks questions such as: “what are the dynamics of our society?” and “what kind of society do we wish to live in?” 

This is your opportunity to peer into the heads and hearts of artists in Cape Town. All performances, except for the production, Talking Heads, are free. Some productions and performances on offer include:

  • The Wishing Wall, a huge collage of wishes, opinions and photos from the people of Cape Town
  • Mandala for Healing, which creates a sacred site or mandala (a Sanskrit word meaning, among others, completion) where earth is brought from sites in and around Cape Town where human rights violations have occurred. Bring earth from a site that reminds you of a trauma or loss to the mandala in St Georges Cathedral to start the healing process
  • Jump your cares away on a queen-sized bed, which has made its way through the Mother City with an open invitation to Capetonians to join the likes of Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, Kalk Bay fishermen or housekeepers from the Mount Nelson Hotel, who have jumped on the bed over the past few weeks
  • Grey Matter, which could see a silent flash mob of 27 people appear near you in the streets of Cape Town. Feel the shift in spatial and social dynamics their appearance brings

For more information on Infecting the City, other productions and an event schedule, visit www.infectingthecity.com, or a Cape Town Tourism visitor information centre near you, where you can collect an Infecting the City brochure and schedule.

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