Kentridge’s Less Good Idea to inspire innovative South African art

South African artist William Kentridge launches his Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg during March 2017, a multidisciplinary showcase of unconventional art experiences by established and up-and-coming local artists.

Less Good Idea
Finding unique ways to uncover new forms of African artistic expression, William Kentridge’s Less Good Idea project emphasises collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. (Image: The Centre for the Less Good Idea/ Stella Olivier)

Inspired by the Tswana proverb “if the good doctor can’t cure you, find the less good doctor”, renowned South African artist William Kentridge has created the Centre for the Less Good Idea as a way to redefine South African art through fluid collaboration and improvisation with new and exciting South African cultural voices simmering below the surface of conventional art.

Kentridge began the project in November 2016, and it launches its first showcase in March 2017, with more than 60 South African artists from multiple disciplines exhibiting between 1 and 5 March at three venues at the Arts on Main complex in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct.

The space will be used to highlight short-form works that explore artistic expression outside the bounds of a conventional theatre or gallery. The works are ongoing, dynamic pieces, ranging from dance to visual arts and theatre, where collaboration and improvisation are enthusiastically encouraged.

“Often, you start with a good idea. It might seem crystal clear at first, but when you put it to work the cracks and fissures emerge in its surface, and they cannot be ignored.” says Kentridge about the philosophy of the centre. “Those less good ideas found in trying to address the cracks in the first idea, that become the core of the work … the act of playing with an idea, you can recognise those things that you didn’t know in advance, but knew were somewhere inside you”.

The curators for this first season — the centre hopes to present two seasons of exhibits each year – include theatre director Khayelihle Dominique Gumede, poet Lebo Mashile, choreographer Gregory Maqoma and Kentridge himself.

“This explosion of creativity has not only stretched every collaborator within this inaugural season but it has also reinstalled the bravery to genuinely explore beyond and to fail extravagantly if need be,” says Gumede.

Maqoma says the project is a good incubator for fresh ideas: “What makes it great is the gut to test it, otherwise you will not know. This is what the centre is about – discovering the essence of artistic collisions and allowing creativity to emerge without the fear of failure.”

A fresh new look at how South Africans create and consume art is what attracted Mashile to the project: “I cannot imagine a piece of writing that cannot be made better by the interpretation of a dancer, theatre director or filmmaker. I want to tell stories and figure out where they should live instead of forcing them into a box.”

Tony Miyambo
Tony Miyambo in Kafka’s Ape. Finding unique ways to uncover new forms of African artistic expression, William Kentridge’s Less Good Idea project emphasises collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. (Image: The Centre for the Less Good Idea)

Dancer Thulani Chauke, composer João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga and actor Tony Miyambo are some of the big names among the more than 60 performers, including dancers, poets, musicians, visual artists and even boxers, who will collide, collaborate and develop six events over the season.

João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga
Composer João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga. Finding unique ways to uncover new forms of African artistic expression, William Kentridge’s Less Good Idea project emphasises collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. (Image: The Centre for the Less Good Idea)

Highlights include a performance of Kafka’s Ape, a 2015 National Arts Festival Silver Ovation Award winner. Miyambo and director Phala O Phala give a fresh and uniquely African reinterpretation of Franz Kafka’s ideas on human transformation using dramatic physicality.

Zúñiga will lead an improvised performance of dance, music and visual art that includes a 10-piece experimental ensemble and an Isicathamiya choir.

William Kentridge
South African artist William Kentridge. Finding unique ways to uncover new forms of African artistic expression, Kentridge’s Less Good Idea project emphasises collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. (Image: The Centre for the Less Good Idea)

For more information on dates, times for performances at the Centre for the Less Good Idea, please visit the website.

Source: Huffington Post, The Centre for the Less Good Idea

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