Above Performance Artist Chuma Sopotela performing with a banraku puppet made by Dylan McGarry for the 2008 10 Green Bottles of Colesburg project.
A SHORT SUMMARY OF PRACTICE IN THE WORLD
2018, "III" McGarry & Mahlangu
"III" is a performative social sculpture developed by Dylan McGarry and Sizo Mahlangu. It is a practice-based research process into immersive active empathy. This 13 minute film is a snippet of a longer 30 min exploratory work developed by Mahlangu and McGarry in July 2018, in Makhanda, South Africa. III actively and intimately explores the concept of empathy as an active and not passive organ of perception. Seeing empathy as a sculptural material, the artists have developed a pair of copper spectacles that are joined together by a third eye lens made of quartz crystal. Wearing the glasses - McGarry and Mahlangu attempt to 'stay-with' each other, attentively looking into each others eyes, while remaining aware of the the third lense sitting in between their respective intuitions (their third eyes). The work examines concepts of solidarity, empathy, intuition, attentiveness, phenomenological encounter, queer love and identity, and intersectionality.
ULWEMBU is a collaborative Empatheatre project, that brings together citizens and civil society to engage the interface between street-level drug-addiction, policing and mental health in the city of Durban, South Africa The play’s main purpose is to make visible the invisible life worlds of highly vulnerable people in Durban, and its surrounds. As well as create new social learning opportunities for the Police, Department of Health, NGOs, families of users, and other groups. ULWEMBU is a profound experience that allows participants to immerse themselves empathetically into very complex learning environments.
December 2011 - Present. Being Water Social Sculpture (South Africa and the UK): A small social sculpture project Dylan developed while on the Climate Train, Being Water explores the interconnectivity of people and the natural world through an encounter with water. Working with the traditional Venda African Gourde and water, the performance artwork and social sculpture practice worked with the concept of water flowing through the human being and all life, and shared through a creative conversation and exchange.
2011-2012, Earth Junkies and Imagine M.E. (National and International) Working with a film-maker Dee Lourens and an anthropologist Emmy-Lou Rabe, Dylan collaboratively developed a national project working with foundation phase children. Earth Junkies attempts to expand foundation phase environmental education, and ecological citizen development, along with developing the first Global Childrens Charter for the Rights of Mother Earth using new strategies in artistic communication and social learning. www.earthjunkies.org
2010 - The Arkwork Circus (Grahamstown South Africa): A continuation of Dylan's work with the youth living on the same landfull as the year before, we were able to expand the following performance, also using funds from the National Arts Festival as well as Artists Project Earth UK. This project involved five more performers and was a collaborative piece of work with Injairu Kulundu a theatre maker, Jamie Alexander a anthropologist and Dylan. As a large team we created a giant street spectacle which involved giant puppets, African Masquerade and various forms of traditional African theatre and performance art. The project was widely publicised and became a feature in a national South African Environment and Culture TV show. http://arkwork.yolasite.com/
2008 - 10 Green Bottles of Colesburg (Colesburg/Stellenbosch South Africa): Dylan lead this project working with disenfranchised decedents of the !Xam people in Colesburg, Eastern Cape South Africa. It involved an installation and performance piece at the Culturvaria festival in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. Alongside a collaborating visual artist Mary-Ann Orr, and other performers including Chuma Sopotela pictured above. Dylan and Mary-Ann created kinetic sculptures with people living on a waste landfill site in Colesburg. The project aimed to raise funds and act as a capacity development project for those involved, as well as capture dying traditional! Xam and San stories. http://arkwork.yolasite.com/the-10-green-bottles-of-colesburg.php
COPART projects: The Connecting Our Planet and Re-Imagining Together (COPART) network which Dylan co-founded and coordinated for two years. Dylan also contributed his own artwork and social sculpture projects to the wider network over and above his coordinating capacity.
2014, SOIL & ASH (MHLABA NOLALHE)
The complex political landscape that underlies the Proposed Fuleni Coal Mining Deal in the ecologically and socially sensitive Hluhluwe-Imfolozi region has made navigating it a tremendously difficult and confusing task for the average person living in this area. Understanding this we developed an accessible alternative to community meetings, complicated PowerPoint presentations, and public arguments/stale-mates in the form of an Applied Documentary Theatre and a social learning project, that offers comprehensive participation of all those affected by the mine, and to develop a collective imagination for alternative forms of development.
2012, Picturing Progress (London, UK) was an expanded small project implemented by Dylan and first initiated by Shelley Sacks in which the connective aesthetic of potatoes and pebbles was used to work with tensions existing within the Trade Unions and the London Pride committee, as a means to navigated conflict over the 2012 Gay Pride in London. Holding a potato in one hand and pebbles in identical shape and colour, participants explored the concept of holding to images of progress in their imaginations at the same time.
Above: An Earth Forum underway in Louis Trichardt during the Climate Train Journey.
2011-2012, Earth Forum Social Sculpture (17 Towns in South Africa): Through a collaboration with Shelley Sacks, Dylan worked further with a social sculpture project entitled Earth Forum, which he subsequently took across South Africa to over 17 different towns, and worked with over 350 people across the country. The primary artistic artefact that remains from this project is a round oiled cloth, with soil traces on it made by participants involved in the process along the journey. It embodies conversations, questions, imaginings and pictures of progress of hundreds of men, woman and children, from a wide variety of different communities.
2010 - The Climate Fluency Exchange (CFE) (Cape Town, South Africa). The CFE was a 10 day open public arts exchange which Dylan co-curated several different artworks, installations, facilitated workshops, social sculptures and other works across the city of Cape Town to coincide with the 16th UN COP climate summit. Dylan facilitated several different workshops as well as co-facilitated two social sculpture projects alongside artist Lara Kruger, entitled: “Drawing to Understand” which work with woman and children from the Gender and Climate Change organisation, and a separate Social Sculpture developed by James Reed at Kalk Bay Harbour entitled: Agents of Change. Videos from this 10 traveling public festival can be seen here: http://www.climatefluencyexchange.org/videos.php
October- December 2011: The Climate Train (Across South Africa, 7 provinces): Dylan coordinated and co-developed the Climate Train Project which was a traveling festival and educational platform that moved across South Africa for 44 days. It took two years to develop, and he curated this project, as well as put together the education programme which was a collaborative exchange process between various citizens from visual artists, filmmakers, dancers, performance artists, musicians, permaculture designers and educators. A day to day breakdown of the trip can be see on the COPART blog (http://www.dontcopoutcopart.blogspot.com/) from October- December posts, or alternatively go to youtube videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OBkyZ4jYD4 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZEidAk6IvM (there are other videos on Youtube as well)
2009 - Quagga and the Unicorn (Grahamstown South Africa): This project funded by the National Arts Festival of South Africa, also worked with five disenfranchised youth on a landfill between Grahamstown and Cradock in the Eastern Cape. Using a variety of different creative practices, street performances were held across the town, that explored questions of life and death, as well as the idea of what can be reclaimed from the discarded. The performers collaboratively created kinetic sculptures and Japanese style Banraku puppets from waste under my direction. The Project was well received, and widely publicised. http://arkwork.yolasite.com/