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HIV/AIDS: in it together
Performance Art meets Public Activism
10 workshops, several site-specific performances, 1 exhibition and 1 short film
Braamfontein, JHB 2011
HIV/AIDS: in it together began in March 2011 with the intention of beginning a series of projects that would foster educational exchange between the artists which reside at the Nirox Residency Foundation and Wits School of the Arts (WSOA) students and graduates. Anthea Moys, WSOA lecturer and active performance artist, was appointed as the co-ordinator of these projects. Fluxus artist and activist Geoffrey Hendricks and his partner, curator and archivist, Sur Rodney came to stay at Nirox for the month of March. During Hendricks’ stay here he helped Moys facilitate three Saturdays of the six weekend workshops prior to the performances.
In line with WSOA’s interest in interdisciplinary collaboration, Moys invited 4th year and graduate students from the Music, Visual Art and Drama for Life departments. Two participants who are part of Tomorrow Trust (see www.tomorrow.org.za), one from WSOA Drama department and one from AFDA, also joined. The challenge to collaborate on an interdisciplinary level was very important to this project in that it challenged the artists to work beyond their ‘comfort zones’.
There were ten workshops in total, which produced 7 site-specific performance pieces in 7 sites in Braamfontein. These performances were held over 3 consecutive days in April.
Dealing with the theme of the stigma that still surrounds HIV/AIDS one of the challenges, which arose out of the workshops, was: how do we create life affirming performances that spread the message – there is life with HIV and that we are really all in it together…
The project dealt with the following issues:
Challenging the heavy stereotypes attached to loaded issues through life affirming and engaging practice.
Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Performance in public space
Performance art and Social Activism: the Role of the Artist
Trolleywood Films has been with us every step of the way and we will soon have a documentary of the entire project, which will be screened at the Bioscope at main Street Life and Wits School of the Arts as part of the WALE (Wits Arts and Literature Exchange) festival.
The film was also screened at some schools in Soweto and at Arts on Main where there was an exhibition about the project.  See 30 min film about the project below.
The performances took place over 3 days: Monday 18th, Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th April 2011 at 17:00 – 18:00. Each performance was collaboratively directed and created by the artists and many of the actions stemmed from previous tests and gestures…
The Route: Beginning at the Theatre Park in front of the Jo’burg Theatre in Braamfontein. Moving down Jorrissen Street and up to Jan Smuts street and then moving back down to Jorrissen street and ending at Jorrissen Park in front of a busy bus stop and Pick ‘n Pay.
The sites were chosen in accordance with a desire to access a large amount of people at once. So, the park, Jorrissen street, the busy traffic on Jan smuts and in front of various bus stops at this time proved to be the most appropriate spaces for multiple points of access for the performances. During the performance time we handed out flyers that explained the performances to the viewers as well as gift wrapped condom packs.
A selection from the text on the flyers:
What’s this all about?
Wits School of the Arts, Nirox Foundation and the US Embassy and PEPFAR proudly bring you the culmination of HIV/AIDS: in it together. The performances you are witnessing today are the products of 10 workshops with musicians, visual artists as well as dancers, actors and actresses. They have worked with the issue of the stigmas that surround HIV/AIDS and each artist has either directed or co-directed one of these performances.
The performances deal with the following in each of these sites:
The Theatre Park: Revealing one’s status, acknowledgment and acceptance
The Bus Stop on Jorissen st: Compassion and physical contact
The Tree on Bertha st: There is Life with HIV! Celebrate it!
The island in Bertha st: HIV/AIDS: Protect yourself and Follow the Rules
Jorissen Park on Jorissen st: The spread of the disease from one to another, standing up and taking responsibility and the sexy dance “Lets Talk about AIDS baby, Lets Talk about HIV!”
Professional photographer John Hodgekiss documented the performances and a selection of images will be printed and exhibited at Main Street Life.
See below images of workshops with Geofrey Hendriks.

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Performances:

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