Swiss & Switzerland-based artists participate in ICA Live Art Festival [Cape Town]
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
Saturday 2 April 2022
10h00 Sibabalwe Ndlwana Dancing Botanical (Marquee Lawn)
10h30 Karin Bachmann & Ayesha Price Arranging Stories (Marquee Lawn)
12h30 Melanie Boehi Talking Plants (Useful Plants, Dell & Cycads)
Sunday 3 April 2022
10h00 Chanelle Adams Ghosts of Ravintsara (Camphor Trees) (Camphor Avenue)
11h00 Colin Meyer Bow (Display kiosk near Useful Plants)
11h15 Ilze Wolff Die saadkamer en die kloktoring/The seed room and the bell tower (Camphor Avenue)
12h15 Daniela Muller How to get a mole out of a garden (Marquee Lawn)
The ICA Live Art Festival is a biennial interdisciplinary festival by the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), which began in 2012. It is designed to challenge and extend the public’s experience of live art in a non-commercial environment and make accessible the work of visual and performing artists who explore new forms, break boundaries, confront audiences and experiment with perceptions.
One of the thematic strands of the festival this year, sentient being, contemplates the idea of consciousness in all living things in relation to the challenges of the Anthropocene. Researchers Melanie Boehi and Zayaan Khan have co-curated a programme of seven works, including works by American-born Switzerland-based artist Chanelle Adams and Swiss artist Daniela Müller, that will take place at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden from 2-3 April 2022.
This programme will engage with Kirstenbosch’s contested colonial past, and remind audiences that our relationship with the fragile natural world remains complicated. “Kirstenbosch is mostly framed as a site of nature, but once we look at it as a place of work, it becomes clear that it is also a space of politics,” Melanie says. The seven works will engage with plants, politics, and history, allowing audiences to see and experience Kirstenbosch – and plants – in a fresh way.
Chanelle Adams Camphor Avenue: Garden of Ghosts
Chanelle Adams leads haunted walks in natural history institutions, most recently (September 2021) through Marseille’s parc zoologique. At Kirstenbosch, she has developed a site-specific intervention around Camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora), which grow near the garden’s main entrance, along what is known as Camphor Avenue.
Kirstenbosch has adopted a policy of only collecting plants classified as indigenous to southern Africa, with exceptions given to plants with historical significance and subjected to monumental gardening. The camphor trees, indigenous to Asia, were planted by Cecil John Rhodes, and legend has it were part of Rhodes’s plan to plant trees from all over the British Empire at Kirstenbosch. The camphor tree garden is haunted by continuums of violence resulting from Rhodes’s activities in Southern Africa, which connect to other stories of colonialism that are buried in the botanical garden’s soil. Yet there’s more to the camphor trees than their association with Rhodes reveals. In many places, including Madagascar, camphor trees and their oil have been used as a potent medicine for a long time. Taking these other epistemologies and ontologies into consideration, Chanelle revisits questions of colonialism, power and liberation.
Chanelle writes: “Ghosts rupture time by reminding us of the unfaced, unrestituted, and unresolved. Part meditative experience, part ghost tour, this performance is a practice in noticing colonial hauntologies in everyday city landscapes and an experiment in face to face encounters with ghosts. I invite participants to think with these ghosts by re-relating with haunt to release the future from historical horrors.”
Chanelle Adams is a researcher, essayist and artist based in Switzerland. Her practice brings together themes of healing and haunting with medicine and history. Adams was awarded a Fulbright grant for her research on the past, present, and future of Madagascar’s pharmacopeia. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MA from the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales. Her work has been published and hosted by Black Quantum Futurism, Danspace 2020 Platform, the Drift, Bitch Media, VANSA, and The Funambulist, among others.
Daniela Müller How to get a mole out of a garden
Daniela Müller’s practice employs acts of appropriation to investigate the conditions of language and its relations to the multispecies body. She understands the multispecies body as human, non-human and non-living, and she is particularly interested in the intra-space between these entities as they touch and thereby shape each other.
How to get a mole out of a garden is a performance piece based on text from a hobby garden bulletin board thread discussing how to get a mole out of a garden. The online discussion comprises advice, stories of success and failure, and users who frequently intervene to declare the mole as an unavoidable part of the garden.
At first, the conversation seems banal and even absurd. But it is interesting how strangers – connected through a hobby – and the moles become pitted against each other. The mole is the mysterious catalyst for the heated conversation, yet is absent from the conversation and invisible in the garden except for the mounds of soil it leaves as traces. The users try to learn from each other’s experience but ultimately fail in their desire to control nature and maintain the perfect appearance of their artificial lawn.
Daniela Müller is a Zurich-based artist and curator. Many of her works address issues of multispecies relationships, domestication and the production of landscapes. Her film Concerning Cats won a 2019 studio grant from the City of Zurich. She has done various international residencies, including at Das weisse Haus in Vienna (2021), Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris (2020) and Apartment Project Berlin (2018), and has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Most recently, she participated in the group shows Regattatata International in Paris (2021), and in the Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair, New York (2021).
Melanie Boehi Talking Plants
With: Boeta Gee, Denisha Anand, Ernestine Deane, Ethel Phiri, Graeme Arendse, Jitsvinger, Luregn Lenggenhager, Oscar Masinyana, Phakamani m’Afrika Xaba, Percy Zvomuya, Rhoda Malgas, William Ellis, Zayaan Khan.
Have you ever wanted to talk to the plants at Kirstenbosch? Ask them how they live, what they do all day and how they experience the botanical garden? Then join the inaugural workshop of the Centre for Plant Interpretation in which plant interpreters, including artists, scientists, conservationists, healers, anthropologists, designers, historians, writers and scholars of African metaphysics try to decode the language of plants. The workshop starts with a discussion in the new Centre for Plant Interpretation, situated in the Useful Plants Garden, and participants will then proceed to converse with plants and trees in the surrounding garden sections.
Melanie Boehi is a historian and research associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg. A portion of her PhD studies took place at the University of Basel.