… so worth to see: NELISIWE XABA

In the context of the ‘Border Border Express‘ event at the HAU in Berlin I was so lucky to see two fantastic pieces by Nelisiwe Xaba with 2 pieces:

They look at me and that’s all they think & Sarkozy Says ‘Non’ To The Venus

Both pieces refer to the story of Sara Baartman, known in France as the ‘Hottentot Venus’, the south-African black woman became an object of scientific curiosity in the nineteenth century. Sara Baartman has become a symbol of the oppression of the African woman by colonisation, and its zoo-like way of looking at Africans. For Xaba, this story – They Look at Me and that’s all They Think – is an allegory for her own artistic journey, from Soweto to the Eurocentric world of art today.

… In a very intelligent but simple way Nelisiwe translates Sarah Baartman’s story into an autobiographic vision of black African woman’s body today.
Though a quite elaborate game with costumes and objects: her dress becomes a cinema screen, inflated air becomes body shapes, a stool becomes a tango partner… in a surprising dance where music is used in a direct and sometimes funny way. There is a kind of conscious naivety that enchants the spectator in an audacious musical path – where we, Europeans, have lost all spontaneousness, Nelisiwe Xaba builds her territory!
[…] Nelisiwe Xaba succeeds to put us face to face with our still present (unconsciously?) white colonial taste for exotic voyeurism. A statement that westerner white Art has lots to learn from besides its pride of apparent superiority.(excerpted from critical spectacle)
Sakhozi Says ‘Non’ To The Venus first premiered at the Musee de Quai Branley in Paris in July 2008. Neli was commissioned by the museum to create a ‘solo contemporary African dance piece’. Neli, receiving the opportunity to create a work in the institution which held Sara Baartman’s remains for so many years, was determined to continue her creative investigation into the story of this tragic woman. The work also reflects the violent xenophobic attacks that occurred in South Africa at the time. The title of this piece refers to the Sarkozi government’s policy to give black immigrants 6000 euro to leave France. (excerpted from Artslink.co.za) Photo via Artslink.co.za
UPDATE: just saw this new video on Youtube, which gives a very good impression of the performance:

video via Youtube: danceumbrellauk Nelisiwe Xaba – They Look At Me and This Is All They Think

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