On Fire – Artistic Exchange

Artistic Exchange with South African Artists on Gender and Tradition

Curated by Constanza Macras and Tamara Saphir.

Thanks to Georgina Thompson and the Dance Forum team in Johannesburg, PJ Sabbagha and the Forgotten Angle Theater Collaborative, Stevenson Gallery Johannesburg and Cape Town, Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, S.-R. N’Sonde, Kimba Mutanda Andersen andTayaka A/free/Collective, Tatiana Saphir and many others.

Supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin – Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten.

With the friendly support of the Dance Forum South Africa and the Dance Umbrella Festival.


“Stating the plurality of the singularity is perceived as one of the most effective means to negotiate the Babel of races, cultures and nations, that has become unavoidable through globalization’s long history.” Achille Mbembe “De la Postcolonie”.

In his foreword to “On the Post-colony”, Achille Mbembe describes a movement coming from the margins and gaining its place at the core of different artistic disciplines and social studies. A movement that have been developing its own lexicon, theoretical arsenal, and different methods to analyze and interrogate “paradigms on the subject of race and diasporas (critical race studies), on sexuated difference (feminisms, gay issue), on post colonialism and subaltern knowledges (subaltern studies), and on the contemporary circulation of all sorts of flows (public culture)” (Achille Mbembe, “De la Postcolonie”, ed. Karthala 2000).

Short before the 20th anniversary of the first multi-racial democratic elections in South-Africa, a prolific variety of talented south african artists and thinkers are engaged on these interrogations, questioning the norms and processes that assign categories and values, the never- ending negotiation of identity constructions in the specific cultural, historical, socio-economic and political landscape of the Rainbow Nation. Taking them seriously, is a choice to believe in Mbembe’s promise for deepening a reflection on the democratic order, the politics of recognition and inclusion and our relation to the other and the world.


A special focus in the program will be given to south african LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi -and Trans- Intersex) activists that are questioning the norms of gender/sexuality identity constructions, working in the space between the most progressive legislation of Sub-saharan Africa to this regard and a reality that remains conflictive. In a country that belongs to the so-called world’s “Champions League” in terms of gay marriage, the phenomena of corrective rapes and the specific vulnerability to violence for LGTBI’s and women are still a severe reality. Moreover, homosexuality is considered by some as “un-African”, namely a “decadent” import from North America and Europe. Paradoxically, this homophobic belief is a relic of a Puritan legislation inherited from the period of British colonial era. Yet, in order to craft narratives of a south-african identity that includes LGTBI it seems still hard to avoid dealing with more complex processes related to religious practices and powers, as well as the cultural and political interpretations, re-interpretations and sometimes an instrumentalization of tradition and heritage.

On the other hand, the re-evaluation of heritages and traditions long related to segregated cultural groups are being articulated in new ways with urban life, and with self-defined contemporary practices and productions, that we want to include in this program. This often links to a subaltern reflection on post-colonial/post-apartheid ongoing power struggles and the artistic deconstructions of colonial/patriarcal imageries of the other.

28.02.2014 – 01.03.2014


“She is not a girl, she is not a boy” will question the interstices between the public space of performativity and the intimacy of the body’s inner perceptions. What remains once ambiguity has exploded all categories? An exploration of the significance or in-significance of words and movement. A language within language haunting us back, as the fantom of what it should and should not had been.


Kieron Jina did an extensive field research on the “invisible” male sex workers from Cape Town. Sebastian Suba collected statements, anecdotes and legends of male porn stars. Miki Shoji joins them for creating an interdisciplinary performance work about hidden transactions and overexposed bodies, confessions and professions, witnessing and peeping. On the performativity of sex and the instability of gender.

07. – 08.03.2014


Choreographical collaboration: Miki Shoji

In “Leleme”, the expression “mother tongue” is taken literally, as a departure point to explore how colonial language can be experienced physically. A negotiation of space is at stake, in the dynamics of hiding and revealing, enclosing, restricting, protecting. The prevailing themes in Lerato Shadi’s current body of work are a performative investigation into the politics of transformation, or transition, from absence to presence, subject to object, inclusion, exclusion and vice versa. Knitting, installation, video and sound are some of the media she uses to record this topical inquiries.


Shades of a queen… is an experimental work investigating the constructs of identity. It evolves around rituals as important signifiers, and a fascination with intercultural exchanges that is certainly rooted in globalization. The creative process is based in personal experiences in public spaces i.e. conversations in taxi ranks, subway stations, airports, markets. “Omang? Who are you?…Who am I? I am a dusty feet traveller…An immigrant, a refugee, a traveller, a transient being, moving, shifting, crossing, riding, giving, taking, displaced and removed, a spawned street kid.” ‘I was spawned as the shoot of a veined directive relieved itself. Spawned as regret settled before rushing rivers of blood quietened. Spawned before whispers of my coming were ever muttered. Tuunikohaa!’

28. – 29.03.2014


Between the inhabited body of the ritual and the rituals of the technical performance, a duo work at the moving edges of trans/cendant states and immanent formal virtuosism. Lucky Kele and Ronni Maciel will interrogate what moves them and how to move together.


If you don’t wash the dishes, no ballet for you today.
But I took my swimming costume and ran …
Me and her, you and them, us both.



Co-curated by Marie-Hélène Gutberlet and Tobias Hering

Re-encounters with African cinema in joint film viewing sessions are a central component of the translocal research project Visionary Archive. On 30.3 four South African artists will be our guests. They are currently resident artists of the Constanza Macras/Dorky Park’s performance project “on Fire” in Berlin. The films MUEDA, MEMORIA E MASSACRE (Mozambique 1979) and COME BACK, AFRICA (SA/USA 1958) will open up associative approaches to discuss body politics, working on history and the role of performance art in “stating the plurality of singularity” (A. Mbembe) in southern Africa, with Lucky Kele, Mmakgosi Kgabi, Zanele Muholi and Mamela Nyamza.



The performance SIFELA I AYIKHO – which is a Zulu expression translated loosely to WE ARE BEING KILLED FOR NOTHING – is exploring parts of South African social landscapes in which the lives of black lesbian and trans women in South Africa, including our own, is always exposed to danger.

The project is an effort to reclaim citizenship and is also a call for an end to queercide, a term coined by Zanele Muholi for the systematic atrocities and hate crimes against lesbians, gay men and trans people in South Africa.

The project is motivated by the ongoing epidemic of brutal murders of black lesbians in the post-Apartheid South Africa.

We are in a crisis.
One lesbian death is a loss to the entire nation.
Children have been orphaned by hate crimes.
Lovers lost their beloved.
Family members mourn their relatives and children.
The workplace and classroom is robbed of its professions.

South Africa’s democratic laws instituted by the Constitution of 1996 are meant to protect the LGBTI community from all forms of discrimination, but our communities have been invaded by an epidemic of violent hate crimes, including callous murders and ‘curative rapes.’

Therefore we need to take action as concerned members of larger the society.Innocent individuals have been dismembered due to sexuality and gender expression.

The performance takes form of a stage protest, poetry, song and musical instruments are used to emphasize the ongoing incidents.

The performance will expand on an existing body of work that documents hate crimes against black lesbians that Zanele Muholi developed since 2004 and consists of three parts:
– PART 1 – Blank Portraits
– PART 2 – Crime scene memorial (motion picture)
– PART 3 – Previous Film titled ‘Isililo’ – projection

25. – 26.04.2014


Human Remain(s) is the intersection of three responses to the violence of ‘othering’. The performer-creators Emil Bordas, Anouk Froidevaux and Athena Mazarakis draw on their own contexts and their personal relationship to tradition to enter a conversation around the ways in which tradition regulates bodies and bodily practices and shapes individual experience. A series of installation-based vignettes creates a remote space in which this conversation is made possible.


Anouk Froidevaux is a Canadian Swiss dancer and performer who grew up in Vancouver, Canada, where she studied classical ballet and contemporary dance. She later graduated from the Rotterdam Dance Academy, Codarts. Since then she has been working as a freelance contemporary dancer with companies and choreographers in several productions and touring internationally. In 2009, Anouk joined the dance theatre company, Constanza Macras/Dorky Park and has been part of the major productions. Anouk has also cultivated her passion for the healing arts, becoming a certified Pranic Healer and fully certified Gyrotonic® instructor.

Emil Bordás is a professional contemporary dancer from Hungary. He started dancing with Hungarian folk dance in elementary school, continued with ballet in high school and graduated from the Budapest Contemporary Dance College. He started to work as a professional dancer in Budapest, where he met Constanza Macras. Emil performed in DorkyPark productions “Open for Everything”, “Forest: The nature of crisis” and “The Truth about Monte Verita”.

Kieron Jina was born in Durban and currently lives in Johannesburg. Interdisciplinary experimentation using multiple artistic mediums” is one way of describing his innovative performance art and dance creations. Jina uses performance art to tell personal stories that, underpinned by activism, explore societal themes and challenge stereotypes. With a master’s in dramatic arts from Wits University, Jina is a co-founder of Stash the Suitcase Collective. Kieron was selected as a DanceWeb scholar for 2013 at the ImPulseTanz Festival in Vienna, Austria. He was recently awarded top 200 Mail and Guardian Young South Africans of the year.

Lucky Kele specializes in traditional and contemporary African dances. He grew up in Katlehong (ZA), a township in the East Rand known for its criminality and poverty. He translates the memory of a rough childhood in his tormented dance. As a choreographer he conceived many works that have been presented in various festivals in Africa, the US and Europe.

Mmakgosi Kgabi studied Choreography and Acting at Rhodes University (2007). She was born out of wedlock to a South African freedom fighter and a Botswana maiden. She has performed on several platforms both at home in Johannesburg and internationally. Among others, she collaborated with Mbogeni Ngema’s, Constanza Macras’s the Offside Rules (2010) and Pink Zebra Theatre Co.’s Super Zoom for the Impulstans festival in Vienna (2011). She’s a member of Stash the Suitcase Performance arts Collective.

Jelena Kuljic was born in Serbia and moved to Germany in 2003 to study singing at the Jazz Institute Berlin. Along with her own band, Yelena K & The Love Trio (Double Moon Records 2010), she has been a featured guest in many music and theatre projects through-out Europe. Jelena has worked extensively as a singer and actress with the director David Marton. Some of the their productions have included such important theatres as Vienna’s Burg Theater, The Royal Theater of Copenhagen, Volksbuehne Berlin, MC93 Paris/ Schaubühne. Since 2013 Jelena is working with Constanza Macras/Dorkypark. In March 2014 Jelena’s band KUU! is releasing their first album Sex gegen Essen.

Ronni Maciel was born in Carmo, Brazil. He studied ballet in Rio de Janeiro and danced for the Balé Teatro Guaira, the state ballet of Curitiba, Brazil. In 2006 he joined the company of Constanza Macras/DorkyPark and moved to Berlin. In 2013 he choreographed the German premiere of Chico Buarque’s “Ópera do Malandro” at the Neuköllner Oper Berlin. In the same year he co-choreographed and performed in the film Anahí’s Room by director Ivalo Frank. Ronni’s latest solo piece, “Diversion”, premiered at Platforma in Berlin, 2013.

Athena Mazarakis is an award-winning South African choreographer and performer working in the areas of Physical Theatre and Contemporary dance both nationally and internationally. In her recent works, such as the autobiographical solo Coming To, the interactive installation elev(i)ate and the site-specific Standing By, Athena has been exploring the relationship between the body and live digital arts interfaces. Her creation elev(i)ate2 earned her a Silver 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Award of the National Arts Festival in South Africa. Athena has collaborated with leading South African companies such as The First Physical Theatre Company and The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative. She has been awarded a Gauteng MEC award for Most Outstanding Female dancer (2005) and a Kanna Award, for Most Prestigious Achievement in Dance Theatre (2007).

Zanele Muholi is a visual activist born in Umlazi, Durban and currently lives in Johannesburg. Studied Photography at Market Photo Workshop, Newtown, Johannesburg and later, MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. Muholi is the founder of a collective call Inkanyiso with a Queer Art Activism media outlet. She has contributed her photography to many queer and art publications and academic journals.

Maureen Velile Majola is an activist, poet and writer from Alexandra township, Johannesburg in South Africa. She is a young feminist and currently associated with Coalition of African Lesbian (CAL) as the Documenting Officer. She is a crew member of Inkanyiso.org founded by Zanele Muholi.

Mamela Nyamza was born in Gugulethu, Cape Town. She trained in contemporary dance and Ballet in South Africa and at the ALVIN Ailey American Dance Centre. She’s been developing her own artistic practice through choreographies that deal with important political and societal issues of today’s South Africa. Mamela has presented her work in various dance festivals in both Africa and internationally. She won the STANDARD Bank Young Artist Award in Dance 2011.

Juliana Piquero was born in Buenos Aires, and lives in Berlin. As a performer and dancer she worked with Volumen Express Collective, kom.post. and the group Fanny Fractal, with whom she was awarded a scholarship for dance research of NRW. She also works with Nathalie Fari, Michaela Muchina, Sandra Teigte, Kat Válastur and Constanza Macras. The first fragment of her trilogy Surviving, Everything is possible in the space in between, won the award “Innovation in performance” in Stockholm.

Jan Sebastian Suba is an actor/performer from Berlin. As a stage actor, Sebastian worked in some mainstream venues, such as Staatstheater Stuttgart, but he carries out most of his work as a freelance performer in the Freie Szene (free scene) of his home town Berlin. His collaborations in recent years included leading artists and companies, such as performance theater collective Andcompany&Co, Artist Yael Bartana, Hans- Werner Krösinger, Bruno Cathomas, Musician-Director Santiago Blaum, Aktionstheater Ensemble Wien from Vienna, Theater company Lubricat queer performance group Cheap, Filmmakers Christian Frosch and Edwien Brienen, Choreographer Nir de Volff and Art-Pop icon Peaches. Since 2011 he works regularly with Ariel Efraim Ashbel / AKA Performance Squad.

Lerato Shadi, 1979, lives and works in Berlin (GER) and Johannesburg (SA). She completed a BFA in Fine Art from the University of Johannesburg. In 2008 she was a featured artist in Art South Africa magazine, and in 2009 she was included in the The Generational: ‘Younger Than Jesus artists-directory’ published by the New Museum, New York. In 2010 she was awarded a Pro Helvetia residency in Bern, Switzerland. In the same year she had her solo exhibition Mosako Wa Seipone at GoetheonMain in Johannesburg. From 2010 to 2012 she was a member of the Bag Factory artist studios in Fordsburg, Johannesburg. In 2012 her work was featured at the Dak’art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal and in the III Moscow International Biennale. She is a fellow of Sommerakademie 2013 (Zentrum Paul Klee) and completed in the same year a residency program by invitation of INIVA at Hospitalfield (supported by ROSL). Currently she is doing her MFA at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee (GER).


Light & Sound: Catalina Fernandez, Stephan Wöhrmann
Stage: Laura Gamberg, Chika Takabayashi
Production Management & Office: Katharina Wallisch, René Dombrowski, Ricardo Frayha