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Delta Park

1984

Possession Arts was a movement by a number of artists and performers for whom the division between these modalities did not exist. So Performance Art was born from a group of Johannesburg creatives such as John Nankin, Ivor Powell, Sybille Nagel and many more. It was not a form that I knew or understood well. But my friend Wilhelm Hahn who was a painter and architect began to invite me to all kinds of events, either as observer or as performer. We used the irregular kind of venue for our events. One such a performance was with a group of performers who occupied a block of flats opposite the Market Theatre. The court yard on the inside of the building had possibilities to hang things from and one could also end up on the roof-deck if you explored the territory, as I did, and landed up on the roof under the stars while the performance was still continuing underneath me. I also remember making use of a swing with immensely long ropes on which I swung across the whole space occupied by performers, quite safely. I really liked this idea, of not knowing whose is ‘on stage’ with you and doing what seems the right thing to do in the moment.

Wilhelm also taught under Paolo Geddes at the School for Architecture at Wits. He constantly subjected his students to artistic and theatrical exercises as he felt that they were not getting the full roundedness of an artistic experience through their training in architecture alone.

He then gave them the instruction to each design a door, a different door, one that stood out from other doors. This they did. They displayed their doors at the Delta Park against every tree. It formed an enclosure within which he invited me to perform. I invited Gill Scott and a marvelously daring friend from Boksburg whose name I have forgotten, to participate. We ended up doing Kalahari from our Thabangita repertoire, and added a circle experience with all the visitors to the park. This was done on a large black plastic sheet that the students and us had to paint before we could dance on it.

Incredible, to have understood interdisciplinary collaboration as Wilhelm offered it to me in a manner that was truly experimental. In the film at Delta Park he is on my right hand side.

Wilhelm also assisted in a much later performance of mine, with my son Luyolo during 2005 in Cape Town.