ICA Live Art: a feast of FREE inner-city performances


While many consider February to be the month of love, here in Cape Town we’ve reclaimed it as the month of FREE artistic expression, as the international ICA Live Art festival takes over the inner-city between the 10th and the 26th.

Presented by the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), this year’s 10-day  programme showcases a rare selection of 34 one-night-only public, collaborative and often transgressive performative artworks, featuring 33 artists from 12 countries. With a focus on dialogue and discussion, audiences are invited to interact with artists throughout the festival between performances and also during 3 insightful workshops and 5 open forums.

While all performances are presented free of charge, art enthusiasts are encouraged to book the shows they’d like to attend in advance, as space is limited in a number of the venues.

“All performances occur once only. There are no repeats, there is no second chance! There are several artists of international standing such as Samson Kambalu, Panaibra Canda and Nora Chipaumire that may not have hit our radar in South Africa especially with live art platforms being so rare. We encourage audiences to look beyond and discover the rich mix of award-winning, internationally acclaimed artists as well as going for familiar artist names,” says Jay Pather, ICA Director and Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town.

ICA Live Art will kick off this Friday, 10 February at Hiddingh Hall in Orange Street with an opening address, followed by performances from Larry Achiampong, Sethembile Msezane, iQhiya and Mamela Nyamza.

The full festival program is available on the ICA website, so be sure to check it out and make your bookings.

In the meantime, here are seven performances we’re looking forward to in particular:


Excerpts from the Past – Sethembile Msezane

When: Friday, 10 February at 7pm

Where: Arena Quad, Hiddingh Hall

Focusing on current conversations about the colonial conquest of land in Africa, Msezane brings the dichotomies of past and present together in a performance narrated through various sound clips from colonial and apartheid eras to the current context we find ourselves in. The performance also serves to raise awareness about the imbalance between men’s and women’s voices in these debates.

Karuvil - Kivithra Naicker

When: Saturday, 11 February at 8pm

Where: YoungBlood, upstairs studio

This installation-based work centres around the preparation, consumption and offering of food in traditional Hindu rituals, interrogating the ceremonial aspects of these practices for South African Indian women. Set up in an intimate space where the audience is encouraged to explore at their own pace, the installation makes use of ‘live props’ such as food and flowers, projected video, music, clay lamps and incense sticks. It’s the second part in Naicker’s Karuvil (In the Womb) project.

 Of Dreams and Dragons - jackï job

When: Friday, 17 February at 6:30pm

Where: Arena Theatre, Hiddingh Hall

A collaboration between South African and Japanese artists,  jackï job and Taketeru Kudo, this performance makes use of Butoh dance to explore the common heritage of hunter-gatherer first peoples of the two countries represented. Kudo and job interweave dance and Jungian theories to transcend and interrogate divisive constructions of identity.

Nora Chipaumire - Photo by Gennadi Novash

Self-Un-contained # punk – nora chipaumire

When: Saturday, 18 February at 7pm

Where: Little Theatre

Continuing her investigation into portraiture and self-portraiture, New York-based nora chipaumire focuses on the construction of identities in our Instagrammed world.  She looks at the act of seeing / thinking / feeling / relating and communing through the lenses of ubiquitous devices (clothing, cameras and headphones) and in doing so, questions with irony and energy the limits and extensibility of bodies today, and wonders: what really makes Africans so singular?

Gadat – Hasan & Husain Essop

When: Sunday, 19 February at 5:45pm

Where: Artscape Piazza

Twin brothers, Hasan and Husain invite audiences to join them in an exploration of religious ceremony, through the performance of Ratib-al-Haddad (Gadat), a set of Quranic verses and Prophetic prayers compiled by the great scholar and saint, Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Alawi al-Haddad. The utterance of the prayer took on a unique sound in the Cape, as servants and slaves were forbidden freedom of religion in colonial times disguised it as a song with a fine tune and melodious sound. During the performance, the Essop brothers will highlight the key aspects of the ritual.


#fuckwhitepeople – Dean Hutton

When: Friday, 24 February at 8pm

Where: Venue to be announced

Unsurprisingly, Hutton’s artwork has already caused quite a few ructions in the artworld and even underwent defacement by members of the Cape Party recently when it was on display at the Iziko South African National Gallery. During Live Art, Hutton invites further engagement with audiences to discuss ideas – both for or against – the controversial statement.

Take in Take out - Albert Khoza

When: Sunday, 26 February at 8pm

Where: Arena quad

In this exploration of death, disease and sickness, Khoza not so much offers a performance, as an offering of himself and the traditions of his ancestors in the holistic approach to healing the body with the use of indigenous plants.

All images provided. 

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