Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Rough Dramaturgy: Gavin Krastin @ Buzzcut 2016

Gavin Krastin is an award winning South African performance artist, theatre-maker, choreographer and designer-scenographer with an interest in the body’s representation, limitation and operation in alternative, layered spaces. His work is inspired by his immediate South African environment and the history embedded in its shifting socio-political climate. 

Apart from operating within the conventional theatre context, Krastin advocates the migration towards unconventional spaces where unknown risk factors are imminent. The social underpinnings and philosophies of space intrigue him and inspire a questioning of operational systems, thresholds, proximities and the politics of boundary-crossings and transgressions (and the myth making thereof) in his work. 

His approach offers opportunity for intimate engagement, immersive journeys and unique participatory involvement. 

Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you are bringing to Buzzcut?
The performance, “Rough Musick”, explores spectacle-driven shaming and torture rituals of pre-enlightenment Britain and draws parallels of such brutality to Britain’s later colonial era where such modes of violence were transfused into other cultures and territories. 

The work and its content are approached through a post-colonial and post-apartheid South African perspective, acknowledging the atrocities of colonisation and how it continues to impact the lives of South Africans today. Rough Musick is perhaps a provocation of ‘the other’ in the face of Imperialistic hegemony, back then and now; it attempts to return the colonial ethnographic eye back onto the colonial headquarters and appropriate rituals and practices from a culture that is typically used to doing all of the appropriating, in a cheeky and self-embarrassing way.

What is it about Buzzcut that attracted you to perform as part of it?
It was definitely the type of work, both in form and content, and how Buzzcut curates and connects the artists and artworks in a way that results in an energetic hub of performance and live art experiences, conversations and research that attracted me to the festival. 

The team and mission is fantastic in how they aim to really support and spotlight a mode of creativity that often finds itself on the periphery and even dismissed.

Do you see your work within any tradition - and are there any artists (performance and beyond) whom you regard as a peer or an influence?
I suppose when it comes to contemporary performance it is very difficult to speak about ‘traditions of’, as ideas of lineage, influence and precursors become a bit more frenetic and concurrent, especially in this hyper-mediated and hyper-connected digital age. 
photo by SuzyBernstein

Certainly my practice is situated within contemporary performance, post-dramatic theatre, live and performance art, which is historically situated in American and European spaces and discourses, but I am largely inspired by my immediate South African environment and the history, anguish and hope embedded in its shifting socio-political climate.

How 'typical' is this work compared to other pieces that you have made? Did the process follow a familiar or new pattern?
No, I don’t think this work followed a similar process to my other works. Of course I did draw from known choreographic and theatre-making strategies and tools, but that is not to say that the process was the same. I think it is very much to do with the concept and the spaces, histories and experiences that the concept takes you into that directs how the process will unfold, and as these spaces, concepts and entry points are all different in each work the process would be different too.

Gavin Krastin: Rough Musick
The practice of ‘Rough Music’ originated in the small villages of medieval England as a means for the public to disgrace and humiliate petty criminals, sexual deviants and ‘others’. Strangely  Carnivalesque, this public shaming involved the creation of a brutal cacophony of sound and the public would direct this barrage of sound at the chosen individual like a weapon. Fundamentally the public were the ‘Rough Music’.

Inspired by these early practices, Gavin Krastin has created a contemporary re-engaging with these dark rituals of exile. A visual and visceral experience unfolds through the brazen clashing of images and activities sourced from Gaelic folklore, Welsh ‘sin eating’ ceremonies, ‘bogey man’ mythologies and psycho-sexual fetish role-playing games. Spectators of this ritual are invited to participate in its unfolding and to become implicit in the dark demonstrations and fantasies.

Created by Gavin Krastin
Performed by Gavin Krastin and Alan Parker
Original sound by Shaun Acker

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