Words: Toni Clayton
Photographs: Ruth Simbao
Blind Spot, curated by Ruth Simbao, is a collaborative collection of four different site-specific performances which took place in different areas of Grahamstown. The performances comment on the notion of ‘seeing’ and ‘not seeing’ – how sight is taken for granted. It then pushes the viewer past this point as ‘invisibility’ becomes ‘hypervisibility’.
The first performance was done by Mohau Modisakeng “Barongwa” – Sikhumbuzo Makandula. It consisted of a silent marching band that was followed by the viewers. The marching band then stopped at the old Egazini Memorial, where the viewers were handed white beads and then the band began to play. The silence was blinding, as one can only ‘see’ once you recognise your own blindness.
The second performance was done by Igshaan Adams “Bismillah”, and he confronted the notions of race, sex and religious origin. Adams performed with his father, dissing and enacting a traditional Islamic way of preparing the body for burial. The audience were blinded by what was happening and only later realised the intensity of the performance.
The third performance was done by Mbali Khoza “What difference does it makes who is speaking?” This performance dealt with the notion of language and communication. Khoza stitched words into a piece of paper as though it was a delicate yet violent act. This then reflected the very act of translation and how words or meaning is literally lost in translation, a blind spot which can never be recovered. This performance then questioned the invisibility caused by the act of translation and how language is altered through it.
The fourth performance by Simone Heymans, Ivy Kulundu-Gotz, Joseph Coetzee and Chiro Nott, was an extension of a series of public performances. This work was based at Victory Girls Primary were the audience were led around the school by a teacher, being confronted by different performances along the way. This work consisted of a stop-frame animation, a performance in the swimming pool and an endurance test. These performances drew on the blind spots of social, political and ideological notions which are brought to light through the mold of the school or educational system. This piece invited the audience to engage with these nostalgic elements of the education system, thus subtly critiquing it.