Acts of Transgression Cover

Acts of Transgression

Contemporary Live Art in South Africa

372 pages

February, 2019

ISBN: 9781776144648



Add to Cart Available: 1/11/2019

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Jay Pather is a choreographer, curator and academic. He is Director of the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and Associate Professor in UCT's Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.    

Catherine Boulle is a writer and researcher at the Institute for Creative Arts, University of Cape Town, where her work includes initiating new research on live art in South Africa. 

Fifteen writers explore the experimental, interdisciplinary and radically transgressive field of contemporary live art in South Africa, focusing on a wide range of perspectives, personalities and theoretical concerns.
Contemporary South African society is chronologically ‘post’ apartheid, but it continues to grapple with material redress, land redistribution and systemic racism. Acts of Transgression represents the complexity of this moment in the rich potential of a performative art form that transcends disciplinary boundaries and aesthetic conventions. The contributors, who are all significantly involved in the discipline of performance art, probe its intersection with crisis and socio-political turbulence, shifting notions of identity and belonging, embodied trauma and loss. Narratives of the past and visions for the future are interrogated through memory and the archive, thus destabilising entrenched colonial systems.
Collectively analysing the work of more than 25 contemporary South African artists, including Athi-Patra Ruga, Mohau Modisakeng, Steven Cohen, Dean Hutton, Mikhael Subotzsky, Tracey Rose and Donna Kukama, among others, the analysis is accompanied by a visual record of more than 50 photographs. For those working in the fields of theatre, performance studies and art, this is a must-have collection of critical essays on a burgeoning and exciting field of contemporary South African research.


  • This landmark publication is an illuminating and indispensable gathering of the most critical voices thinking today about the role of performance in the shaping of the self, identity, agency, community and nation.

    —Okwui Enwezor, former director of Haus der Kunst, Munich and artistic director of the 56th Venice Biennale

  • An essential and important book. Its strength lies in its embeddeness in themany cultures that make up South African society.

    —RoseLee Goldberg, author of Performance Now: Live Art for the 21st Century and Founding Director of Performa

  • Acts of Transgression seeks not to contain the complex worlds of some of South Africa’s most compelling live artists, but instead pulls us in with urgency and pause, and in so doing makes us alive to the power of the serious, playful, and radical acts of imagination that are both of and beyond this postapartheid apartheid.

    —Panashe Chigumadzi, author of These Bones Will Rise Again