What is your approach to rites?
Buhlebezwe Siwani: My approach to rites and rituals is different depending on which space I am in. For instance, there are different types of rituals for every single human. Ones that form as habits, like brushing one’s teeth or washing one’s hair every Sunday. Other rituals, which are traditional or cultural are the ones which I am interested in.
Why is the music representing the transitions?
The music represents the transitions because music has been integral to most cultural rites of passage and transition always appears to have a sound.
What are the roles of rites in culture in general?
I am not sure how to best explain this. Rites and culture appear to work in a symbiotic way, where one feeds into the other.
Could you explain the place of rites of passage in your own culture?
They permeate every part of our existence, whether by denying them or actively acknowledging them as part of our lives. They exist as a precursor to our existence as they existed before the living generation did. They are ancient customs which are very specific, so one must be specific when asking about rites of passage, as there are many. Passage is a liminal space and every single human goes through change, essentially a passage. For example, puberty is a passage.
How can an artist bring the sacred of a rite into a performance, surrounded by an audience?
My aim is not to bring something sacred to an audience, it is to bring to light that which has always been thought of as dark and mysterious. Traditional and cultural rites always have an audience, meaning there are always people there who are passive or active participants. There is something to be said about knowing what can be shown and what cannot be shown and seeing how best to translate what can be shown in an artistic manner.
What does the video, which is a modern device, bring to your topic of ancestral practices?
I am an artist, living in a modern world. One day I will be an ancestor who lived in an age with video. Ancestral practices do not mean one has to stay in an archaic mode of making in order to honor ancestral practices. We live in a digital age and culture and ancestral practices sometimes adapt. Which is why I have decided to use video. I wanted to ensure that the experience is multisensory as ancestral practices do not exist on one plane, they exist in many.
What is your approach to this year's theme, impact?
I am not sure that this is for me to answer, because I think that ties in with the festival but I will give it a crack. For people to form a different opinion on something that has been seen again and again. Just in a way that has been picked apart so that people can scrutinize themselves and question, as opposed to just accepting what they see and hear.
What impact do you hope to have with your project or with your art in general?
I suppose that is the fight every artistic practitioner has with themselves, whether to create impactful work or just make work. In a sense, I think every work is impactful whether you know it or not. If your work moves someone or articulates itself well and has the ability to effect positive change, then your work has been done. That is the ethos I take into my studio everyday.