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Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) Live Art Workshop

In a context where increasingly artists gravitate towards live art practice and public performance outside of formal training avenues, the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) in collaboration with Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, will host an interdisciplinary Live Art Workshop, under the direction of Jay Pather, in March and April 2019.

The workshops brings local participants interested in developing their work in this field together with master practitioners in specialised areas of practice, as well as programmers of experimental work in the public sphere drawn from Pro Helvetia’s global network.

Intended for cultural practitioners across a broad range of fields – including sociology, political science, anthropology, psychology, urbanism, literature, digital technology– the participants were selected through an open application process managed by the ICA.  This final group consists of South African participants, as well as three artists from elsewhere in the Southern African region – Antananarivo, Harare and Dar es Salaam.

The Workshop programme is facilitated by a group of  artists, cultural producers and educators from South Africa, Mozambique, India, Switzerland, China, Brazil and Egypt (see bios below).  The intended outcome is for participants to present a concept for a new live art work developed during the course of the Workshop, potentially in collaboration/relationship with peers. The results will be reviewed for feedback from  a range of curatorial and programming guests from Pro Helvetia’s global network, offering the opportunity for relevant new work to be circulated through  this emergent network of platforms focusing on the incubation and presentation of challenging work in public spaces.


From sight to sound
Jonathan O’Hear (Geneva) & Bernhard Frederik la Dous (Basel)
Monday 8 April, 13h00 – 14h00

Theatre at the threshold
Zhao Chuan (Shanghai)
Tuesday 9 April, 13h00 – 14h00

Mining the gaps
Noor Abuarafeh (Jerusalem) & Mohamed Abdelkarim (Cairo)
Wednesday 10 April, 13h00 – 14h00

Lovers, Dogs and Rainbows
Rudi van der Merwe (Geneva)
Venue TBC
Thursday 11 April, 18h00 – 19h00

The Live Art Workshops will be held from 29 March to 9 April, with the public presentation of Live Art performances generated during the programme planned for Sunday 14 April at University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus. The ICA will also hosts the visiting artists and cultural producers in their public lecture series from 8-11 April at UCT Hiddingh Campus, venue TBC.

The Live Arts Workshop Programme is made possible with support from the global network of Pro Helvetia liaison offices (Johannesburg, Shanghai, New Delhi, Cairo, Sao Paulo/Coincidencia), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (through its cooperation agreement with Pro Helvetia Johannesburg) and the Mellon Foundation.


Mohamed Abdelkarim completed his Master’s thesis of knowledge engagement at ECAV, Switzerland in 2014. Following this he turned toward producing text-based performances, and became committed to performative practices across multidisciplinary research, concerning the perception of narrating, singing, dancing, detecting and doing. His practice engages with these actions through a focus on travel, locomotion, renegade history and picaresque literature, where a series of non-linear, serendipitous encounters with concepts, fictions, almost truth and what is known as historical facts are gathered to form a script and an archive of events and stories. In this context, his practice aims at producing narratives and exposing the way narratives are produced.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Cairo

Noor Abuarafeh is a Jerusalem-based artist working primarily with video, performance, and text. Her work addresses the memory, history, archive, and the possibilities of tracing absence. Abuarafeh’s videos and performances are text-based and question the complexity of history, howit  shaped, constructed, made, perceived, visualised and understood, and consider how all these elements are related to fact and fiction, and the possibility of imaging the past when there are gaps in documentation.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Cairo

Panaibra Canda is an internationally renowned choreographer and dancer. In 1998, Canda founded Mozambique’s first contemporary dance company, CulturArte, and has since encouraged and fostered many local dance projects and artists. He has engaged in collaborations with artists in Southern Africa and Europe, and his work has been presented in Africa, Europe, the USA and Latin America. Canda won the ZKB Patronage Prize in Zurich, Switzerland in 2008 and the Sylt Quelle Cultural Award for Southern Africa in 2009.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Zhao Chuan is a writer, theatre worker and art critic. His publications include fiction, non-fiction and works on contemporary art history. He is the founder and director of Grass Stage, a leading Chinese theatre company.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Shanghai

Bernhard Frederik la Dous (née Greif) studied communication sciences at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, before studying Applied Theatre Studies (BA and MA) in Giessen from 2007-2012. The focus of his artistic work is on the areas of sound design, sound production and radio play. He is a permanent member of the group Lukas and from Dusseldorf, and worked as a sound designer, among others, for the performance group proposal: Hammer and yuri500, as well as the director Corinne Meier.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg

Jonathan O’Hear trained as a filmmaker in Vancouver, Canada in the late 1980s. Today he lives in Switzerland and works primarily as a lighting designer for performing arts and gives workshops on the use of light as an artistic medium. His interests in light revolve around three main themes: the language of light as an artistic medium, the use of new technologies submitted to human interference, and light emitting objects. His work is often tainted by the belief that human imperfection transcends technological limitations.
Participation supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg

Jay Pather is a choreographer, curator and academic. He is associate professor at the University of Cape Town and director of the Institute for Creative Arts. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Dance Theatre at New York University and since then his work has travelled widely, both locally and internationally, extending across discipline, site and culture.

Vaughn Sadie is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, living and working in Johannesburg. He completed his MFA in 2009 and is currently registered in the PhD Programme at the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology. Since 2010, Sadie has become increasingly interested in the role that artificial light has on our perception and construction of the spaces we occupy. In response he has worked collaboratively with Sello Pesa, Jay Pather and Neil Coppen on various projects, through site-specific work and participatory practice, to develop alternative ways of perceiving and engaging with a city.
Participation supported by the ICA

João Simões (Rio de Janeiro, 1979) is an artist, curator, researcher and educator. He founded, with Cláudio Bueno, the Explode! Platform, which researches and experiences notions of gender, race and class, based on cultural and artistic practices perceived as peripheral, also crossing the fields of pedagogy, urbanism and social justice. He is also a member of the study group Extremidades: audiovisual networks, film, performance and contemporary art, coordinated by Christine Mello at PUC-SP. He has participated in curatorships, public speeches and performances in several cultural institutions.

Kapila Venu is an exponent of the Kutiyattam art form, which is one of the oldest forms of world theatre and the only surviving tradition of Sanskrit theatre in the world. She is a disciple of the legendary Kutiyattam maestro the late Padmabhushan Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar. Venu hails from a family of artists. Her father G. Venu is a performer and scholar of Kutiyattam and her mother Nirmala Panicker is a well-known exponent and scholar of the Mohiniyattam dance form. Along with her parents, Venu runs the Natanakairali school at Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur. Natanakairali is a research and training centre on Kerala’s traditional art forms. Venu is also a visiting faculty at the National School of Drama, New Delhi.

Nelisiwe Xaba began her vibrant career in dance almost twenty years ago. In the early 1990s she received a scholarship to study at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation and the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. Returning to South Africa in 1997, Xaba joined Pact Dance Company and later launched her solo career, working with a variety of esteemed choreographers, including Robyn Orlin. Since then, Xaba has been involved in various multi-media projects, collaborating with visual artists, fashion designers, theatre and television directors, poets and musicians.

Rudi van der Merwe was born and grew up in Calvinia, South Africa. He studied theatre and French at the University of Stellenbosch (1996-99) all the while maintaining independent activity working in theatre, dance and television. From 1999 to 2002 he studied Modern Literature and Cinema at the University Marc Bloch in Strasbourg and partakes in ex.e.r.ce at the CCN of Montpellier.  Since 2004 he has worked as a performer with prominent Swiss artists on a variety of diverse and multidisciplinary projects.  In 2014, he obtains a diploma in post-production from CADSchool Geneva and in 2015 a postgraduate diploma in cinema from Raindance London.

Katia Gandolfi is the assistant artistic director at fitfestival, Lugano, Switzerland.

Hannah Pfurtscheller is responsible for the performing arts at Kaserne Basel, Switzerland, together with Sandro Lunin as artistic director. She worked as a dramaturg at wildwuchs festival in Basel (2014-2017), in the programme board at Zürcher Theater Spektakel (2014-2017), at Gessnerallee Zurich (2013-2014) and as artistic director at Transeuropa2012, a young European theatre and performance festival in Hildesheim. Hannah Pfurtscheller was born in Germany, she studied Cultural Studies and Aesthetical Practice at the University of Hildesheim, Germany (2007-2013) and Dramaturgy at the University of the Arts in Zurich, Switzerland (2010-2011).

The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) is an interdisciplinary institute in the University of Cape Town’s Humanities Faculty.  ICA facilitates new collaborative research projects, particularly in the Creative and Performing Arts. Interdisciplinarity, Live Art and Public Spheres are key themes of the Institute, and projects are imbued with innovation, collaboration and a dialogue with urbanism and community.