29 May 2013
The Eiffel Tower was lit up in the colours of the South African flag on Tuesday night to mark the opening of the South African Season in France, while will see over 800 artists showcasing the country’s vibrant diversity in hundreds of projects across France between May and December.
Highlights of the opening week include a striking dance performance by Robyn Orlin and Moving into Dance at Paris’s National Theatre of Chaillot and the opening of a major exhibition focusing on Nelson Mandela.
The multimedia exhibition From Prisoner to President, taking place at Paris’s Hotel De Ville, attempts to provide a layered glimpse of Mandela in all his various guises and incarnations ahead of his 95th birthday in July.
Between May and December, in about 100 towns across France, the Season will feature roughly 250 dance and theatre performances, 100 musical concerts, 50 films, 40 residencies, 35 workshops and 30 exhibitions – with 150 South African wines available for the French to sample.
This programme follows on the French Season in South Africa, which included more than 100 events around South Africa in 2012 – South Africa being the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to participate in reciprocal seasons with France.
“We are most excited to launch the South African Season, which is a result of a bilateral agreement that aims to strengthen people-to-people relations between France and South Africa,” Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile said at Tuesday’s opening event.
“This Season in France will offer our artists, scientists, academics and sports people an opportunity to showcase their work to French audiences and facilitate collaboration with their French counterparts. This we believe is critical in developing our local industries and the creative industries in particular.”
Commissioner General Bongani Tembe described the Season as “a tribute to the struggle for freedom and the choice of reconciliation over racial division as embodied by many South Africans, including its most famous citizen, former president Nelson Mandela.
“The French can expect a Season rich in terms of magnitude and diversity, with the inclusion of many different art forms and genres, as well as South Africans renowned in their field and those who represent a new generation of artists, thinkers, innovators and scientists.”