Jay Pather, Performance, and Spatial Politics in South Africa
Published by: Indiana University Press
Jay Pather, Performance and Spatial Politics in South Africa offers the first full-length monograph on the award-winning choreographer, theater director, curator, and creative artist in contemporary global performance. Working within the contexts of African studies, dance, theater, and performance, Ketu H. Katrak explores the extent of Pather's productive career but also places him and his work in the South African and global arts scene, where he is considered a visionary.
Pather, a South African of Indian heritage, is known as a master of space, site, and location. Katrak examines how Pather's performance practices place him in the center of global trends that are interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, collaborative, and multimedia and that cross borders between dance, theater, visual art, and technology.
Jay Pather, Performance and Spatial Politics in South Africa offers a vision of an artist who is strategically aware of the spatiality of human life, who understands the human body as the nation's collective history, and who is a symbol of hope and resilience after the trauma of violent segregation.
Preface: Personal Journey to Discovering Jay Pather
Introduction: Pather's Spatial Politics within South Africa's Historical and Political Landscape
Journeys across Political, Socio-racial and Geographic Borderlines: Interconnecting the Present, Past, and Future
1. Crossing (over): Indian Ocean Migrations Pather's Historical Dance-Dramas
2. Race and Space Matter: Outdancing Apartheid's Grip (1980s and 1990s) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Choreographed Critiques of Broken Promises Post-1994 Testimonies; Laws of Recall; Unclenching the Fist, Forked Tongues, Shifting Spaces, Tilting Time
The Transitional and the In-between: Theoretical and Creative Engagements with Urban Geography (2000-2015)
3. Site-Specific Cartographies of Belonging Cityscapes; Republic; Rite, Blind Spot
4. Site-Responsive Works of History and Memory Home; The Beautiful Ones Must be Born; Body of Evidence; Qaphela Caesar
Curatorial Choreographies: Challenges of Curating Public Art Festivals (2007–Present)
5. A New Kind of Performance-Curation of Live Artists Director of the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (2010-2015), now the Institute for Creative Arts (2016 on) Spier Contemporary: Fostering New South African Arts Director of GIPCA 2010-2015; Institute for Creative Arts (2016 on)
Conclusion: A Sense of Ending
Appendix: Indians in South Africa
"Jay Pather's own artistic as well as his curatorial practices are deeply engaged with South Africa's histories and legacies of injustice, segregation, racialization as well as the country's aspirations for a new dispensation, for a better, more equal, just, and democratic future. He is fully deserving of this full-length study."~Catherine Cole, University of Washington
"Jay Pather's choices have never been easy, nor have the routes he has taken been paved with anything but obstacles and mire. Yet, as Ketu H. Katrak shows, Pather's works and achievements are extraordinary records of the challenges faced by those excluded from most places in South Africa by apartheid's drastic laws."~Sarah Davies Cordova, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Paris Dance
"Introducing us to the innovative work of Jay Pather, choreographer, theater director and curator, who believes that spaces carry history, Professor Ketu Katrak delves into the geographic, bodily, social and psychic space of post-apartheid South Africa, and the history of trauma it carries. South Africa with its race politics is a metaphor of the modern world. The book and the work of Jay Pather should echo in our hearts."~Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine. Author of Decolonizing the Mind, and Something Torn and New.
"During and post-apartheid as an activist artist and aesthetic provocateur par excellence, Jay Pather and his ground-breaking art-making have played a seminal role in simultaneously educating, entertaining, informing and conscientizing diverse communities and audiences about key issues such as human rights and gender politics. As Ketu Katrak's incisive book reflects, his artmaking and academic practice ingeniously blur boundaries between theatre dance/dance theatre/performance art/ live art with ingenuity and inspirational creativity."~Adrienne Sichel, pioneering South African theater/dance journalist, and author of Body Politics: Fingerprinting South African Contemporary Dance
"This book offers an important discussion point based on the work of a South African choreographer and teacher who interrogates spaces to offer a political impulse. Land continues to be an issue of political and social context, one that is critical given the South African complex history and the present failures of democracy. The work of Mr. Pather juxtaposes space as a metaphor for social setting and performance."~Gregory Maqoma, South African dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of Vuyani Dance Theatre, Johannesburg
"A key record that critically situates South African choreographer, dance company director and curator Jay Pather against and within his historic time and place to highlight his vision for and approach to black African dance in South Africa as it has evolved since the 1980s apartheid context. Designating the complexities particular to apartheid-instilled South African contemporary dance, Ketu Katrak places Pather's choreographic democratization of space and his multidisciplinary curatorial trajectories in relation to postcolonial world dance discourses to manifest how his politics of space and performative activism foment the political as personal, with a foregrounding of black bodies in public urban locations to instigate social change. "~Sarah Davies Cordova, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.
"Jay Pather, as one of Africa's most prolific choreographers and curators for over three decades, has long deserved a book-length study. Thankfully Ketu H. Katrak has provided just that: an evocative and richly detailed rendering of Pather's oeuvre, showing us how he stages the "dance between the dances." What kind of dance wells up between disparate, previously isolated and segregated communities, especially in the wake of apartheid and its toxic remains? Pather's nuanced depiction of the complexity of intercultural encounters within South Africa has great relevance in and well beyond its borders."~Catherine Cole, University of Washington. Author of Performance and the Afterlives of Injustice, and Performing South Africa's Truth Commission.
"Katrak's text offers the first sustained scholarly account of the disruptive subversion, generative promise, and persistently evolving performance manifestoes of one of South Africa's most prominent and prolific arts practitioners and thinkers."~Juanita Finestone-Praeg, Journal of the African Literature Association
"This is a rich, complex book that tackles and criss-crosses race, space, social and gender divides across historic periods, continents, local and global contexts. This is what makes it amazing and also challenging to read. It is theoretically rich and at times challenging to hold the many different theorists, reviewers' views, and different paradigms being invoked at once."~Yvett Hutchison, South African Theatre Journal
"With its historical, cultural, and spatial contextualization of an artist whose work has cross many gendered and racial boundaries, Katrak's Jay Pather, Performance, and Spatial Politics in South Africa is a benchmark for future scholarship on South African dance and performance."~Praxis
- ALA Book of the Year: Scholarship
Ketu H. Katrak shares her new book, Jay Pather, Performance, and Spatial Politics in South Africa
Jay Pather, Performance and Spatial Politics in South Africa offers the first full-length monograph on the award-winning choreographer, theater director, curator, and creative artist in contemporary global performance.
Ketu Katrak and Jay Pather, Book Launch
This book launch event for Ketu H. Katrak's "Jay Pather, Performance and Spatial Politics in South Africa" (Indiana University Press, 2021) features South African choreographer, curator, and theater director, Jay Pather in conversation with Ketu H. Katrak (UCI Drama). Moderated by Nomusa Makhubu, University of Cape Town, the event includes two dance pieces with Nelisiwe Rushualang, Sibusiso Gantsa, Noxolo Rushualang, and Ntlantla Maxhobi spanning four generations of Artistic Director Jay Pather's Siwela Sonke Dance theater Company. Additional remarks by Professor Catherine Cole, University of Washington, Seattle; Khanyisile Mbongwa, Chief Curator of the Stellenbosch Triennale; Mbongeni Mtshali, a multimedia artist; and Bob Meijs of Afrovibes Festival based in the Netherlands (Pather is Artistic Director of Afrovibes).