Treasure hunt in the ‘hood

Published Feb 15, 2011


Infecting the City (ITC). Good title. It’s slightly disconcerting and subversive, suggesting the idea of art as a disease, spreading through its environment, affecting change on a molecular level, created by people who know art needn’t be pretty in order to be beautiful.

The festival has offered both prettiness and beauty over the past few years with its site-specific performance art and installations that pop up in Cape Town’s many crannies. It is uniquely stimulating and often surreal watching office workers, tourists and high school pupils sweating under the same hot sun as the artists in Heritage Square, St George’s Mall and the Grand Parade.

The removal of traditional environs and dictates makes art into something new and frequently wonderful.

Capetonians are literally confronted by the productions where they live, work and play, making the work and the issues they engage withaccessible – and hard to ignore.

This year’s festival, again under the curatorship of Brett Bailey, runs from Monday to February 26 using “Treasure” as its theme. The hub of ITC 2011, where several public arts events will take place, will be the newly refurbished forecourt of the Cape Town Station – the “gateway to the city”, celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this year.

Artists will present interventions and performance pieces in public spaces around this hub and on three mobile stages – the Jewel Boxes. The Treasure theme is spun with several threads.

Buried Treasure

Focuses on cultural expression generally excluded from the mainstream. These treasures will be stylishly showcased in and around the ITC hub.

Wasted Treasure

Vast quantities of recyclable material are discarded in the city’s trash, ending up in landfills that poison our natural environment. ITC 2011 questions what we consider useful.

Undervalued Riches

People who work in public spaces – parking attendants, street cleaners and garbage collectors, the vendors and hawkers, the security guards – are often ignored. Several artists are creating works that boost the profile of these people and the work they do.

Heritage Treasures

Celebrates the architecture, art, natural resources and varied histories of Cape Town.

l ITC 2011 opens on Monday morning and ends at 1pm on February 26.


Slices of Life is a kind of time-lapse project unfolding over the course of the festival. Recyclable waste, gathered from Constantia, Manenberg, Observatory, Gugulethu and the CBD will be piled on the forecourt. Eight artists will turn these into installations and sculptures that question and explore what we consider waste. The artists are Brendhan Dickerson, Hannelie Coetzee, Usha Seejarim, Igshaan Adams, Heath Nash, Nomthunzi Mashalaba, James Clayton and Simon Max Bannister.

The “City Treasurers” are several artists approached to make proposals that respond to the theme of ITC 2011.

Doung Dala

Durban architect and public artist Doung Dala presents WaterMarks: once there was a river… Dala will spend the festival week marking the line along which the water flows.

Nadine Hutton

Joburg photographer and conceptual artist Nadine Hutton establishes a new THe glorious PreservAtion oF the Kultural TReasures of the Mother City (MTHAFKR). She will identify sites, objects and persons deemed to be treasures in the CBD, and the MTHAFKR team of “Preservation Experts” will move to preserve these treasures with the high-tech material polyvinylidine (better known as cling wrap).

Owen Manamela

Cape Town choreographer Owen Manamela will work with a team of dancers and garbage collectors on one of the Wasteman garbage lorries. For an hour each day their collection rounds of the CBD will be turned into a mobile, choreographic, musical intervention.

Anthea Moys

The Number 1 Unexpected Undercover Cleaning Agency: in the weeks leading up to ITC, Joburg performance artist Anthea Moys has spent time as a city car guard and as a city street sweeper. She has worked with the people she has befriended to make a dance piece to be performed in various public arenas.

Nolan Oswald Dennis, Lisolomzi Pikoli and Themba Stewart

Nolan Oswald Dennis, Lisolomzi Pikoli and Themba Stewart will erect a number of shacks out of material found in the City.

Athina Valha

Greek/UK site-specific performance-maker and ITC 2010 resident artist Athina Valha returns to Cape Town to work with local performers on the station forecourt. She will tie together the various threads of the ITC theme and work with the historical and contemporary contexts of this location that lay beneath the waves in colonial times.

Myer Taub

Myer Taub is designing a “Treasure Hunt” that takes participants through the tunnels beneath the city, then asks them to follow a series of clues and directions that lead them to heritage sites and intriguing people. The hunt revolves around the search for a legendary ring brought by an enslaved rebel leader to the Cape by the Dutch, which was lost in the Platteklip Gorge where his wife was doing settlers’ laundry. Several prizes are up for grabs.

Peter Aerschmann

Swiss video artist Peter Aerschmann will make a video artwork focusing on the functionaries of the city. During ITC the piece will be looped and exhibited within the Cape Town Station.

Catherine Henegan and Jethro Louw

Catherine Henegan and Jethro Louw will conduct visitors on a poetic exploration of the old third class wings of the Cape Town Station.

Caron van Zeil

Caron van Zeil will whip a busload of people around the outskirts of the CBD for 90 minutes daily on a tour of historical sites connected to Cape Town’s natural water supply.


Iain Harris curates the programme of nine Music Gems celebrating the diversity of music in the city.

The Music Gems Stage stands under a clump of trees on the station forecourt and features three 45-minute performances scheduled daily at about 8pm, 1pm and 4.30pm.

The confirmed acts include The Car Guard Quartet, Mac McKenzie’s Goema Symphony Number 1, Tamashii Teiko, the Zamanani Brothers, Loit Sols, the Playing with Fire Klezmer Band, the Delta Soetstemme and others.

“The Jewels” form an eclectic collection of 15 seven-minute performances of cultural manifestations and performance rituals that speak to our local diversity, presented by Celeste Botha, Peter Hayes, Sensei Ndlovu, Fiona du Plooy and Natalie Fisher.

They include performances encompassing reflections of Cape Flats gangs’ fighting techniques featuring sharp knives and tattoos; Ratiep, an underground Sufi ceremony demonstrating the power of faith over pain; jazzing, the Cape Flats razzmatazz dance; Ethiopian coffee ceremony; Senegalese immigrant men belonging to the Mourides (Senegal’s richest and most powerful Islamic Sufi brotherhood) chanting the sacred texts of their founder, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, in Wolof; women from the Cape Indian community performing the art of wrapping themselves in saris; drum majorettes from a northern suburbs high school; tai chi; Xhosa sangomas’ ceremonial dance and song; riel dancing, the traditional dance of Khoisan farm labourers; traditional Xhosa stick fighting; and others.

Every day five of these Jewels will be displayed on a sequence of stages – the “Jewel Boxes” – in close proximity to one another around the CBD.

The audience will move from stage to stage, with the route changing every day.


l The city has allocated the resources required to upgrade the shabby rockeries on the Strand Street perimeter of the station forecourt.

A landscaper and a team of gardeners will stock these derelict gardens with beautiful indigenous plants during ITC.

l “Talking Heads” is an invitation to engage in intimate conversations with some interesting people in our city. The event will be held in the Iziko National Gallery.

l Daily lunchtime jazzing classes will be held in St George’s Mall outside Edgars.

l Exhibitions from six Cape Town galleries will be held in the 12 large, glass-fronted cabinets (or vitrines) built into the walls of the new station complex. Two banks of six vitrines each.

l Feedback (previously called Making Sense and The Right to Respond), invites a panel of thinkers and artists to respond to the festival in a public forum, and gives the public the opportunity to speak to the artists.

l For up-to-date details on the Infecting the City Festival, pick up one of the programmes placed around the city or visit

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