Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood opened its year this week with a women-led exhibition, Mating Birds Vol 2, which is said to engage with art and documents dealing head-on with the effects of colonial and apartheid laws in South African contemporary sexual relationships.

Scheduled to run at the gallery until February 10, the exhibition is curated by Gabi Ngcobo with Sumayya Menezes and Zinhle Khumalo.

Mating Birds Vol 2 is a curatorial essay that takes the late Lewis Nkosi’s novel, Mating Birds, as a starting point. The novel is used to visualise the troublesome histories associated with the Immorality Acts of the parliament of colonial and apartheid South Africa,” says a spokesman.

“The effects of these acts are presented through the staging of an exhibition as an essay that draws on original artwork as well as reference material from art, literature, philosophy, legal documents, letters, newspaper clippings and exhibition catalogues, among other sources.

“The essay exposes how contemporary perspectives on sex, sexuality and sexual relationships have been shaped, contested or maintained.”

Interplay of bondage

Published in 1983/86, Nkosi’s novel is set in Durban’s segregated beaches and narrated by a black man awaiting execution for allegedly raping a white woman. The novel was equally critiqued and praised by many, including Henry Louis Gates jnr, who remarked on how it “confronts boldly and imaginatively the strange interplay of bondage, desire and torture inherent in interracial sexual relationships within the South African prison house of apartheid” (New York Times, 1986).

Meanwhile, South African writer Andre Brink (1935-2015) accused Nkosi of being fascinated with inter-racial sexual relations and of being guilty of “distortion and exaggeration”.

Mating Birds Vol 2 uses the exhibition space to map the manner in which artists have intervened in the space of sexual politics. It also looks at how they continue to reshape the visual vocabulary of sexuality and sexual freedoms while questioning the way bodies are still impacted by the residual nature of repressing colonial and apartheid policies.”

The exhibition features artists Billie Zangewa, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Lady Skollie (pictured, top), Sabelo Mlangeni, Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Tracey Rose and Trevor Makhoba.

Reference materials are drawn from literature, including Bessie Head, Lebo Mashile, Lewis Nkosi, Makhosazana Xaba and Zakes Mda, as well philosophical texts, historical archives and other sources.

Gallery entry is free and all are welcome.

A scene from the 2018 Fresha Festival offering free entertainment at Durban’s North Beach. This year’s festival runs from January 18 to 20.

Also of note in Durban this weekend is the 2019 Fresha Festival, offering free entertainment at North Beach from January 18 to 20. The event will feature works that are non-verbal and run for 15 to 20 minutes.

The Fresha team has selected a programme of vibrant, engaging works to be staged during the day in the open-air. They will be free to all.

The format for the Saturday and Sunday entertainment is similar, featuring shows that are accessible to people of all ages and are family-friendly.

“What could be more quintessentially Durban than a summer festival of free family theatre?,” says festival director Emma Durden, who points out that the event will launch at 5pm on Friday, January 18, with an opening procession along the beachfront promenade and a performance showcase on the Bay of Plenty lawns.

Fun programme

This performance will be a trailer package from all festival participants, to give audiences a taste of what is in store during the festival, adds Durden.

The fun programme starts at 7am on Saturday, January 19, with a free, open yoga class, followed by a free, open dance class led by last year’s Standard Bank for Dance Award winner, Musa Hlatswayo, and his group of dancers. Saturday’s dance will be DanceXercise class, while Sunday will offer a Zumba class.

At 9am on Saturday, a selection of public participative workshops will be offered, covering street theatre and recycled art.

Join the Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble for a workshop on creating art out of waste on the Saturday, and join acclaimed Dutch performer Gerard Olthaar for a masterclass in street performance for an hour on the Sunday.

“All day every day, add your wisest bit of advice from your favourite song in our open art exhibition: Advice from Songs. Inspired by Swiss artist Marcus Kraft and his work, PopMusicWisdom.”

The first show of the festival starts at 1pm on the Saturday with a dramatic one-hander performance by Durban-based conceptual artist Doung Jahangeer. His challenging work has opened both previous Fresha festivals.

Innovative and funny

Charming, innovative and funny, Netherlands comedy street performer Gerard Olthaar – also a Fresha regular – will amuse audiences with his antics, before a contemporary dance piece at 2pm: Tran(ce)itions by Sizwe Hlope. Street theatre continues with two pieces by Township Arts Academic and 034 Drama group.

At 3pm there will be a performance with puppets, entitled The Thing About Wolves, created and performed by the Mahlekahlathini Mask & Puppet Players from the KZN Midlands in collaboration with puppeteers from the acclaimed Handspring Puppet company.

Zamokhukhanye Productions follow with a street theatre piece. Deaf performer Sibo Masondo charms the audience with some innovative original mime.

At 4pm, Jarryd Watson’s tenacious group of dancers from Wentworth Arts and Culture will perform a street-dance piece, full of tricks.

The final two performances of the day will celebrate physicality – with Unyezi Productions doing a physical theatre piece and InnoV8 Gym / Bluefire Productions wrapping up the theatre programme for the day with an aerial act.

Sundowner concerts

On both Saturday and Sunday, the days will end with sundowner music concerts on the lawn. On Saturday it will be the turn of The South Jersey Pom-poms and Sunday will see an unusual combination of Afro-blues and opera featuring Zulu Blue and La Canta Rosa.

During the day there will be all-day art and interactions to enjoy, including the I Speak for the Trees exhibition of recycled art. This is a project of Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble, featuring life-size trees made of rubbish found along the Durban beachfront by young artists in a mentorship programme led by Christine Adams.

Between acts, visitors will be invited to make a hand-written poster inspired by Advice from Songs – a participative project by Swiss artist Marcus Kraft.

All festival events are at the Bay of Plenty lawns, North Beach, and are free of charge. There is a tent for rainy days, so visit whatever the weather!

Nathan Julius, the Hilton Old Boy now studying in Switzerland.

One to put into your long-term diary. The outstanding Countertenor Nathan Julius will feature in Mon Voyage with Hilton College staff and boys and the Midlands Chamber Choir. This evening of music takes place on Friday, February 8 from 6.30pm in the Hilton College Memorial Hall. Tickets are free, donations are encouraged. Bookings at www.quicket.co.za

Julius is a Hilton Old Boy currently studying at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland. He began his singing career at the Drakensberg Boys Choir and conductors who have worked with him have labelled him one of the most gifted young singers of his time.

Benefit concert

This is a benefit concert for Nathan aimed at securing funds for his studies. Organisers say the programme has something for everyone, from Debussy’s Claire de lune to a beautiful choral version of Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence.

If you enjoy the hit songs of yesteryear you should consider a trip to Kloof for I Love Rock & Roll, scheduled for performances at 8pm on January 18 and 19, and 2pm on January 20 at the Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel in Beryldene Road.

This new show sees Irish singer-musician Dave Monks and vivacious vocalist Marion Loudon paying tribute to 20 artists, among them The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Queen, The Travelling Wilburys, Britney Spears, The Big Bopper, Status Quo, Cher and Cliff Richard.

Dave Monks and Marion Loudon in I Love Rock & Roll, scheduled for performances at 8pm on January 18 and 19, and 2pm on January 20.

“This new show consists of a wide variety of famous 1960s singalongs and one-of-a-kind medleys which enhance the flow of the performance and transport you back to the Swinging Sixties,” says a Rhumbelow Theatre spokesman.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with cards) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

A reminder that Durban’s Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road, is presenting Our Favourite Swings, featuring Durban’s popular Platform Jazz band with guest vocalist Bryan Hiles.

It is a lively show scheduled for final performances at 8pm on January 18, 2pm and 8pm on January 19, and 2pm on January 20.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with a valid student card). Booking is at Computicket or via Roland at 082 499 8636.

For my full review of the show click here

Among films new in cinemas countrywide this weekend is The Mule, directed by and starring 88-year-old Clint Eastwood. Also featuring Bradley Cooper and Manny Montana, the film centres on a 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran who is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Illinois for a Mexican drug cartel.

Also among new cinema releases is Glass, with Bruce Willis, James MacAvoy and Samuel L Jackson. Directed by M Night Shyamalan, it tells of a security guard who uses his supernatural abilities to track a disturbed man who has 24 personalities.

SHOWBIZ TRIVIA:
Do you know? What is the only X-rated movie ever to have won the Best Picture Oscar? (Answer next week).
Last week’s question: What huge pop star of the 1970s had a novelty hit in 1973 with The Laughing Gnome, originally released as a flop single in 1967? (Answer: David Bowie).