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Gavin Krastin celebrates Pride Month with new work ‘12 Labours’

“12 Labours” is made up of a series of interdisciplinary pieces. Picture: Supplied

“12 Labours” is made up of a series of interdisciplinary pieces. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 30, 2022

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Gavin Krastin, the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art is closing off International Pride Month with a bang, as he presents his latest project titled “12 Labours”.

“12 Labours” is made up of a series of interdisciplinary pieces, 12 to be exact, that incorporate petrol stove acts and community interventions.

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“The project reimagines the toxicity of conventional understandings of ‘heroism’ and ‘masculinity’ through the adapting of the classic Greek tale of ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules’,” says Krastin.

This production features a troop of queer garden gnomes who band together with local artisans, gardeners and contractors, collectively performing a sequence of actions centred on notions of community building and igniting feelings of gratitude and joy.

“There was a time when we needed heroes, but in a world riddled of magic, I propose a Iawn of garden gnomes instead. A collective of ordinary, queer people who approach acts of service as a kind of love language in an arguably corrupt capitalist economy.

“And, in so doing, we hope to position performance art as it is traditionally understood, as necessary labour and infrastructure for the public good because we need performance art as much as we need roads, green spaces, and walkways.”

According to Krastin, the aim is to empower the community in a “bold and creative attempt to spark social change in this whimsical and eye-opening exercise.”

Elaborating on his performance project, which debuted at the opening of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, he said: “Well, the work is loosely inspired by the 12 labours of Hercules, but I very much try to queer or subvert it. Labour needs defining, to include those out of work or over-laboured or artists not considered labourers.

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“So, we highlight the notion of gnomes or elves instead. In those five hours, we’re all paid the same regardless of the work we engage in, since ordinary people are also extraordinary in some way.

“We’re just fixing the road. Our labours are not just civic, but include the metaphysical and personal.”

Don’t miss “12 Labours” at the Sun Gallery on Saturday, July 2, at 2pm.

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The National Arts Festival is on until Sunday, July 3. for more information on the full programme and ticket bookings visit: nationalartsfestival.co.za.

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