Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let me Entertain you: Anthea Moys

By Murray Kruger

The merit of Anthea Moys's new body of work, Anthea Moys vs the City of Grahamstown, lies in its potential to entertain. This aspect of Moys's practice, which is often overlooked in discussions of her work (the emphasis is on her familiar vocabulary of gaming, play, participation, public space and risk), becomes the focus at this year's National Arts Festival. She doesn't do away with her inventory of interests, but rather amplifies them in a formalised display of her prowess as a show-woman. As this year's recipient of the inaugural Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art, Moys has set herself the ambitious task of attempting to capture and maintain the attention of audiences, all of whom are there to see what should be considered a benchmark project of institutionalised local performance art.

Moys acknowledges in various sources that she is interested in exploring connections between performance, play and public space. She sees activism, education, staged performances and street gaming as the tools to conduct these explorations. Her HIV/Aids: In It Together project as well as Flipside Game are two notable examples. Her work is often collaborative in nature, aiming "to foster connections between different communities and the spaces they inhabit", says the artist on her website.

An early example of this methodology can be found in 2007 when Moys involved boxers and their trainers from George Khosi's Rhema Boxing Club (Hillbrow) in her work. Titled Boxing Games, Moys spent two weeks training with them, coming to terms with the related concepts of play and violence, safety and survival through the development of games. The thematic concerns of these works supposedly "cohere around an interest in the liberating possibilities of play". Through play, she feels alternatives to the status quo can be tested and new alternatives proposed and performed. The "structure" of the everyday, our environments, are the parameters she likes to attempt to reconfigure, albeit momentarily.