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Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation

Posted by Tiani Chillemi
18 Jun 2014

In Honour of Mandela Day

On 18 July 2014, the Vryfees in partnership with the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery and the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS) will co-present a new artist and academic forum on experimental, socially engaged and cross-cultural art.

Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfees says the forum is part of the transformation strategy of the festival, which aims to support more diversity and cross-cultural, contemporary art programming for the event.

Herbert comments ‘Cohesions and Disruptions is part of the new Program for Innovation in Artfom Development (PIKO/PIAD) which includes both the cross-cultural OPENLab 2014, a new Australian/South African laboratory for early and mid-career South African artists, and a partnership with the Australian based Situate Art in Festivals initiative, managed by Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart, Tasmania.’

Given the significance of the Australian/South African connection, it is imperative to commence the inaugural PIKO/PIAD by linking the two countries through First Nation dialogue. The forum’s keynote speaker, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman from South Australia and Victoria respectively and who is well known throughout the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island and broader arts communities, will discuss issues around First Nation cultural development, language, heritage and contemporary arts practice.

Professor Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice says ‘Given the histories and present experiences of human rights violations and racial discrimination that indigenous people in Australia and South Africa are subjected to, we are particularly honoured to have Lee-Ann as a guest speaker. Together we will explore how social justice for Indigenous and other marginalised groups can be advanced via contemporary arts practice.’

Lee-Ann will also be in conversation with Dr Willy Nel, Lecturer at the School of Education Studies, Educational Psychology (UFS) who completed his PhD among the ǂKhomani San in the Kalahari, and who is of Indigenous descent.

Other forum speakers presenting their work in the context of cross-cultural engagement and experimental art, include Dr Mari Velonaki, Director of the Centre for Social Robotics at the National Institute for Experimental Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney; Dr Nigel Helyer of Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture, Sydney; Bec Dean, curator at Performance Space, Sydney and manager of Time_Place_Space: Nomad, a travelling laboratory program for interdisciplinary and experimental art; Jess Olivieri, co-founder Parachutes for Ladies in Sydney Australia and Cigdem Aydemir, Vryfees visual artist for 2014.

Angela de Jesus, Director of the Stegmann Gallery at UFS, said that after the forum, in honour of Mandela Day, there will be a community participation program at Lebone Village in Mangaung, a centre providing holistic care to children affected by HIV/AIDS, their families & all people affected by poverty. Mandela day volunteers will be building clay bricks and tiles for a new art and craft centre for Lebone with the help of the Qala Phelang Tala (QPT) Project team, a start living green initiative focused on the development of sustainable housing and human settlements.

The forum will also be Livestreamed and viewers can follow proceedings on Twitter through #PIAD14 from 9am-1pm South African time. Details of the forum will be released closer to the date.

Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation will take place on Friday 18 JULY from 9:00 – 13:00 at the Naval Hill Planetarium, Bloemfontein. Admission is free. RSVP by Friday 4 July by to dejesusav@ufs.ac.za or on Facebook

The forum will also be Livestreamed and viewers can follow proceedings on Twitter through #PIAD14 from 9am-1pm South African time. Details of the forum will be released closer to the date.