Preview: Gavin Krastin speaks about 12 Labours interventions and labours – personal and solo -at NAF 2022

Gavin Krastin’s 12 Labours at #NAF2022

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Festival dates: June 23 to July 3, 2022 in Makhanda
NAF programme: 

#NAF2022 #ItWillChangeYou    

Interventions and labours – personal and solo

Many of us, following the National Arts Festival 2022 (#NAF2022] o n social media platforms have been intrigued by Gavin Krastin and his team of gnomes, who have been hard at work in Makhanda, fixing potholes, tarring roads and giving the town some TLC. The award winning Krastin is presentencing his performance piece, 12 Labours at NAF 2022.  In 2021, Krastin received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art and as we know NAF 2021 was unable to go out live because of the surge in the pandemic. There was some action in Mkahanda, with artists presenting their work for streaming but in-person attendance was not possible. I was interested to find out how the pre-festival gnome work, fits in with 12 Labours, described as an “interdisciplinary performance project, comprised of twelve individual performative acts and public community interventions. The project reimagines the toxicity of conventional understandings of ‘heroism’ and ‘masculinity’ through the localising, adapting and queering of the classic Greek tale of The Twelve Labours of Hercules.”

In response to my queries as how the tarring and potholing by the gnomes, connects with 12 Labours, Krastin explains: “Myself, along with a group of collaborators, have been working on a series of tasks, interventions and labours from about February this year [2022]. Some of them are personal and solo in nature, while others are ensemble and public. At the National Arts Festival I will be exhibiting these actions through a series of physically displayed video performances – where we have used the visual documentation of the live acts to create performance video artworks. And so at the exhibition audiences will see a large assemblage of video action. Live action entails the two scheduled walkabouts of the exhibition. So no, there will be no live pothole interventions, or durational public acts of repair during the actual festival. The project is simply too large to fit into one week and one space, and that is why we have opted for this route. For those who can’t attend the two live performative walkthroughs, there will be an online audio version that acts as a guide to the exhibition. This will contextualise the approach and speak to what people are viewing in the exhibition.” Here is the link:

Shelter: Public service: Gnomes have been working on a series of tasks, interventions and labours from February 2022, in the lead yo to NAF 2022, to spruce up Makhanda. The labours are part of Gavin Krastin’s 12 Labours, at #NAF2022.
Working together: Gavin Krastin and his gnome team – who have been labouring in Makhanda, in the lead up to NAF 2022.
Hercules”. 12 Labours features a group of queer artists-come-garden-gnomes, in collaboration with local artisans, civil servants, gardeners and contractors, who collectively perform a series of actions centred around notions of repair, community building, gratitude and transgressive joy.Occurring from April to July 2022, across Makhanda, the twelve labours are presented simultaneously in a single space, throughout the festival. Audiences are invited to move through a multisensory journey of audio and visual documentations and the exhibited detritus of those labours that have already occurred, alongside the live performance of several labours by the artists (during the walkabout).  

“There was a time when we needed heroes, but in a world ridded of magic, I propose a lawn of garden gnomes instead. A collective of ordinary queer people who approach acts of service as a kind of love language in an arguably corrupt capitalist economy. And in so doing, we hope to position performance art, as it is traditionally understood, as necessary labour and infrastructure for the public good – because we need performance art as much as we need roads, green spaces and walkways.” – Gavin Krastin.
Gavin Krastin

Straddling the worlds of theatre, actionism and live art performance, Gavin Krastin is an interdisciplinary artist and arts educator with an interest in the body’s representation, limitation and operation in alternative, layered spaces. For Krastin the body is a tool for subversion, slippage and challenge. He performs, exhibits and teaches across South Africa and internationally. He also runs the Live Art Arcade, a nomadic pop-up performance assemblage for early career artists, and in 2021 he received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art.

✳ Info in box from NAF 2022 website.

✳ Pics supplied – by Michelle Lowry.