Infecting the City is the epitome of public art. Accessible, edgy, varied and free, it uses the city itself – its pavements, malls and buildings – as its stages and galleries on which to bring dance, music, poetry and art to the throbbing humanity of the metropolis.
What better way to spend a late summer evening, than to amble through the city as it winds down and enjoy a vast array of performances? We saw two 6m slinky springs fall in love on Church Square before watching Madness, a multi-media work, in the Groote Kerk. Choral singing washed through Adderley Street above the hooting of taxis. Even the city pigeons stopped looking for crumbs on the pavement to listen.
In the main hall of the Golden Acre shopping centre, the commerce-crazed rush of the mall was momentarily stilled as people stopped to watch dancers leap about while Charlotte Hug’s music twisted between the columns and crept down the shop corridors.
But the Infecting the City festival is not just pretty pictures and mind-boggling movement: these performers ask valuable questions and tackle big issues. In Longmarket Street, as darkness descends,Uneducated uses transparencies and shadows on a white city wall to ask “Can our education system free us as Africans?”, while the brilliant Ellipsis questions our sense of identity and belonging.
Herded by very helpful Infecting the City ushers with boards and lights to the Castle, we find food trucks waiting to fill hungry tummies before the next set of performances. The back courtyard of the Castle is scattered with warm blankets on which to sit while watching the ever-wonderful Handspring puppets and then Brent Meistre’s ode to the drive-in, Analogue Eye.
Moving back to the front courtyard for the final performance – New Moon Collective’s Prayer To The New Moon – the evening ends on a very high note. With drums and trumpets and incredibly tall, stilted half-human half-animal creatures and a shining bright floating moon from which an acrobat hangs… It’s slickly performed and all incredibly beautiful.
Divided into five programmes from Monday to Saturday, afternoons and evenings, the festival moves through the city streets encompassing an extraordinary number of mini ‘events’. From recycled sculptures on the Concourse to dance performances, this is the stuff that stills the incessant hum of the city. Some have specific performance times, others are ‘pop-up’. You want to be in the city for this!
This piece appears on What’s On In Cape Town.