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(Un)Infecting the City Arts Festival

7 May 2021 - 30 June 2021

Uninfecting the City

Cape Town’s streets, buildings, billboards and taxis are set to come alive with (Un)Infecting the City, a free-to-the-public arts festival running from 7 May – 30 June 2021.

Abandon Netflix and take to the streets of Cape Town for the ultimate screening experiences, performances and installations this May and June! The longest running public arts festival in South Africa, Infecting the City, renamed (Un)Infecting the City for this year, offers a unique opportunity to bring art, music, dance and performance out of theatres and galleries and into public spaces. The 2021 festival, presented by the University of Cape Town’s Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), upholds its public-hearted spirit, but has updated its format to allow for social distancing.

Uninfecting the City
Carla Fonseca

In previous years, the festival has reimagined transport and shopping hubs, squares, gardens and public walkways as transformative stages. It showcased an array of multi-disciplinary art forms, and created a platform for artworks that engage with historical and contemporary narratives relevant to the city and its people. As South Africa grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently, the fires in Cape Town and at UCT, this year’s (Un)Infecting the City will have a thematic focus on the psychological and social impacts of this time.

COVID-19 in itself has led to a dramatic loss of human life nationwide, and the beginning of 2021, in particular, has seen many people having to come to terms with the loss of loved ones. Says Director of the ICA, Jay Pather: “The pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge to mental health, food systems, employment and the arts. Still observing the festival’s city-based concerns of urbanity and spatial politics, some of the artists on the programme consider how these concerns have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. There are also many works that celebrate resilience, spirit and community.” For instance, acclaimed artist Wezile Mgibe will present a work aptly titled ‘We regret to inform you’, that echoes these sentiments.

Uninfecting the City
Mandla Mbothwe

The festival has been restructured to embrace a new social-distancing model that will allow it to go ahead within the current restrictions and with respect to all health and safety protocols. Reimagined as a crowd-free event and taking place across multiple outdoor venues, (Un)Infecting the City also incorporates new digital and virtual elements that can be experienced by anyone with access to the Internet, and from anywhere, expanding the festival beyond the physical limits of Cape Town.

Comprising eight distinct programmes, (Un)Infecting the City offers a wealth of culturally-rich opportunities created by 50 different artists that are entirely free to the public. Here’s what you can experience:

Programme 1 runs from 7-8 May 2021 from 18h30 onwards, and is a series of videos screened on the sides of buildings within the CBD combined with performances. A walking trail will connect the various screening sites culminating at Church Square. Highlights include a film by Buhlebezwe Siwani and two live performances, by Marlin Zoutman and

Kwasukasukela Arts Collective respectively.

Programme 2 is video-only, running from 11-12 May 2021. Works will be projected onto the Western Province Building, Groote Kerk and even shop windows on Long Street, again culminating in multiple screenings on Church Square with films by Tankiso Mamabolo, Charl Johan Lingenfelder and others.

Programme 3 runs from 14-15 May 2021 and brings the Company’s Garden alive with video projections and performances.

Programme 4 will take place in the daytime outside the Cape Town Station on 22 May 2021. From 13h00 there will be an outdoor performance by Aphiwe Mphahleni designed to engage foot traffic that is en route to and from this transport hub. Part of Programme 4 is a site-specific artwork by well-known multi-disciplinary artist Thania Petersen of WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery. Her work will cover the inside of a taxi with sound and video projection.

Programme 5 consists of artworks designed for billboards and posters that will be installed across the city from 28 May 2021 onwards.

Programme 6 comprises 4 different audio works available via www.infectingthecity.com/2021. The works run from 4 June 2021 onwards.

Programme 7 consists of a series of new digital works that can be viewed online via www.infectingthecity.com and Social Media, from 11 June 2021 onwards.

Programme 8 will recap the festival via www.infectingthecity.com/2021, Social Media and Cape Town TV. Excerpts of the full programme will be made available in stills and video format from 18 June onwards. 

Uninfecting the City
Grant Van Ster – Figure of 8

For the full programme, please see www.infectingthecity.com/2021. Please note that the programme may be subject to change.

For more information on the ICA, visit http://www.ica.uct.ac.za/.

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