In the tunnel looking back up - performer’s view
Cape Town’s historical tunnels will briefly turn into a musical instrument 22 & 23 November 2013 as an artist sings from an open stormwater manhole connecting to these underground spaces.
Pauline Theart, a Fine Artist from Johannesburg who uses her voice and song as medium, will perform an extended lullaby at selected tunnel interfaces in Cape Town Under: The Third Voice, a guerilla gallery project. The work forms part of LAND, an event comprising performances, visual art installations, public lectures and panels about land, territory, ownership and art presented by the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA).
Cape Town’s tunnels were first built as canals by the Dutch and enclosed in the Victorian era. Today, they act as stormwater pathways where fresh water flows invisibly under the city from the mountain out to sea. The planned sites along this route for Cape Town Under: The Third Voice are a trapdoor interface with the Castle, a manhole on a vacant Grand Parade parking lot and a manhole on the Castle lawn near the Darling Street entrance.
Theart will sing for about one hour at each location (see the performance schedule adjacent) in an improvisational style where the lullaby is stripped of words. The unique acoustics of the space lets the sound travel upwards to surprise people above ground through the emotional interiors of song. It also loops in the tunnels themselves to create echoes and refrains - a ‘third voice,’ or ‘the unforeseen voice’, as Theart refers to it.
Kim Gurney conceived Cape Town Under following a tunnel tour into these usually hidden spaces. She curates the performance for guerilla gallery, a nomadic artistic platform that seeks alternative spaces to host art projects. “We hope this feminine, lyrical song emanating from a stark built environment will intrigue and move people in the midst of their everyday interactions. It is a simple, affective gesture that cues past and present while speaking to restorative futures.” She adds: “The lullaby could also be conceived as a lure of sorts that shows passersby a glimpse of the city’s underbelly and perhaps triggers other thoughts of everyday invisibilities underfoot.”
Below ground at Grand Parade - performer’s view
SITE 1: Castle Trapdoor, Strand Street: Friday 22 November @ 11h00
Directions: Take Strand Street into the city. Park along the shoulder adjacent the Castle. Performance on the left-hand side Castle buttress. Alternatively, park at the Darling Street Castle parking lot and walk around. Follow the blue manhole cover signage.
SITE 2: Grand Parade parking lot: Friday 22 November @ 15h00
Directions: Park anywhere close to the Grand Parade and walk over to the vacant parking lot. The performance is centrally located here. Other performances take place prior so come early.
Installation view: prior to performance
SITE 3: Castle Lawns, Darling Street entrance: Saturday 23 November @ 13h00
Directions: Park at the Darling Street Castle parking lot - there is a small driveway entrance off Darling Street, look for the military guardhouse as landmark cue. Drive over the bridge and into the parking lot. Follow the blue manhole cover signage.
Tunnel entry at Castle Lawns - audience view
Follow this signage to the performance venues
comprises performances, visual art installations, public lectures and panels about land, territory, ownership and art. The event is presented by Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts GIPCA from 21-24 November at various spaces throughout the city of Cape Town. Its statement reads: “In deference to the centennial of the infamous Native Lands Act of 1913, there has been a national focus on land as a vessel of trade, trauma and restitution. The material inscription of colonisation, with the Land Act as its formalisation, remains performative - still determining where people live and intersect, and how people move through space. It results in diverse and opposing ideas, values, dreams that constantly disrupt the country’s present … LAND focuses on contemporary practices, the traumas and the hauntedness that manifest as a result of this condition.” LAND website
is a Johannesburg-based artist whose work explores the integral nature of voice, with a focus on the relationship between culture and site-specificity found in the city spaces of Johannesburg. She last year conducted a voice installation at the Children’s Memorial Institute in Braamfontein toward her MA in Digital Arts at University of Witwatersrand (pending). She also participated in 2012 with voice and song in a group exhibition by Elgin Rust, APPEAL 2012. Theart also holds a BA Fine Art from the University of Pretoria (2006) and a Grade 8 Classical Singing qualification from the Royal Schools of Music. Visit: website
is a nomadic and independent artistic platform that does not have its own bricks and mortar but seeks alternative spaces instead to facilitate site-specific Fine Art projects and interventions. It is a nonprofit and noncommercial initiative, otherwise termed an ‘off-space’, launched last year in Johannesburg inner city. Visit: website
works across disciplines in Fine Art, academic research and journalism. Her artwork often responds to absence, loss or invisibilities with restorative gestures and she has held two solo exhibitions and participated on numerous group shows. Kim engages more recently with other artists as curator, including ‘Sounding Out’ (2012) at the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, and last year founded guerilla gallery, a nomadic artistic platform. She is affiliated as Research Associate to African Centre for Cities (ACC) at UCT where she contributes to a Public Culture CityLab and as Research Associate to UJ’s Research Centre: Visual Identities in Art & Design (VIAD). Visit: website
Installation view - Pauline descending
Installation view: echo manhole
Installation view: echo manhole
All images above: Marguerite Townley-Johnson