Peter Van Heerden is a performance artist living and working in Cape Town. He completed his Masters Degree (Cum Laude) at the University of Cape Town Drama Department in 2004. He has presented live art installations at various venues, including the Grahamstown Festival, with a controversial and acclaimed work titled "So is ën os gemaak". This work was followed by Bok, commissioned by the KZNSA Gallery for YAP, which were also performed for the FNB Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg earlier this year. Van Heerden is a lecturer in performance at CityVarsity in Cape Town. Van Heerden works in close collaboration with artist Andre Laubscher, and they present work under the initiative erf 81 cultural collective.
Van Heerdens work is an investigation into masculinity and identity through cathartic performance. His work is based on the notion of Saamtrek (pulling together), where the audience is participants, through their presence, in a quest for new meanings and interpretation of archetypal symbols.
Van Heerden states: Through live art installation I create necessary work - work that engages and opens new spaces that encourage communal engagement and dialogue. I accept and harness my role as a white male South African to engage in the cathartic process of resolution and reconciliation through dialogue. In order to understand our future we must unpack the past in the present.
The video installation of Bok follows the live art installation that took place earlier in 2006 in Bulwer Park, outside the KZNSA Gallery, where Van Heerden presented three performances in public, living on site for the duration of the set-up and performances. The work presented for this phase of the project is a consolidation of the material and visual residue of Bok. This consists of video material garnered from the research phase of the project, where Van Heerden and Laubscher enacted mock executions at significant Anglo Boer War and apartheid sites in the Eastern Cape, as well as documentary footage of the performances in Durban and Johannesburg.
On the last day of the installation Van Heerden and Laubscher will perform a closing ceremony, which encompasses a ritual. Starting at 6:00 am in the morning they will start with a closed performance of executions in the exhibition space, repeating the performance every six minutes ñ the average estimate of time a South African child is abused. This will conclude after twelve hours at 6:00pm, when the public will be invited to attend a closing ritual and engage with the artists in-situ.
Interested members of the public are invited to meet with Van Heerden and Laubscher at 6:00pm on Saturday 27 May 2006 at the KZNSA Gallery and witness the closing ceremony.