Uncles & Angels staged at the UJ Art Centre

Uncles & Angels, a digital performance art collaboration between Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke J van Veuren, will be presented at the UJ Art Centre Theatre from 23 – 25 August 2018. This interactive dance and video production features Goodman Gallery performance artist Nelisiwe Xaba with digital interactive video by Mocke J van Veuren, and will be a highlight of the Art Centre’s Women’s Month programming.

The programme will include a screening / installation of the stereoscopic [Uncles & Angels] film, which was awarded the FNB Art Prize in 2013.

The central allusion within the piece is the Reed Dance, which is well known in Southern Africa (and increasingly as an attraction for international tourists) as a colourful, cultural celebration that is meant to promote respect for young women and preserve the custom of girls remaining virgins until marriage. In light of this cultural happening, Uncles & Angels explores questions of chastity, virginity testing, purity, and tradition, while at the same time casting a wry glance at the power relations encoded within corporeal interaction through performance and projection.

Uncles & Angels not only questions what the Reed Dance has become, but also probes the sometimes curious relationship between young and outwardly innocent girls and the older, affluent and seemingly respected men that often dominate them. Universally it calls to mind political figures such as Silvio Berlusconi and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and has found continuing resonance in the era of Trump, Weinstein and sexual power abuses leading to the MeToo movement. Despite premiering (in association with the Goodman Gallery, at the Johannesburg Dance Umbrella) in February 2012, Uncles & Angels has continued to challenge audience perspectives of culture and patriarchy in over 20 cities in South Africa, as well as in Tunisia, France, Germany and Austria; whilst simultaneously expanding understanding of what dance might look like.

In 2018, UJ Arts & Culture has explored the theme of ‘metamorphosis’ as a thread through in its programming. Uncles & Angles therefore not only critically considers the role of gender-based traditions in contemporary society, but through presentation of this work in a space, which – supported by new Vice Chancellor Prof Marwala’s vision of foregrounding the Fourth Industrial Revolution – is actively encouraging creative innovation, UJ Arts & Culture also introduces an exploration of the intersections of art and technology as mediums of engagement, as an introduction to its programming philosophy for 2019.

“We’re honoured to be able to host artists of this stature, and also that there is an increasing recognition of our Arts Centre stages as an space which is well-suited to the presentation of dance, and as providing a nurturing environment for interdisciplinary production,” says Head of UJ Arts & Culture, Pieter Jacobs.

To book tickets for the limited run at the UJ Art Centre Theatre visit here Performances are 23 August 2018 at 16:00, 24 August 2018 at 20:00, and 25 August 2018 at 20:00. General admission is R80, tickets for students are R50 and R20 for UJ, ASE and ATV students.