by Michael Smith (May, 2008)
Anthea Moys is an artist who uses performance and video to explore notions of play, the pathetic and the 'useless'. Moys' happenings seem to challenge the conventional sturm und drang seriousness of much other performance art. She is interested in how play more readily implicates and involves the audience, invoking a three-way dialogue between herself, her audience and the places in which her activities happen.
Moys also asserts the importance of public space for her works: public space, she says, becomes a site 'where I can test out numerous possibilities in order to find a means of expression through action. Sometimes I create all the instructions for my performances, but then invite others into my domain where I would like a collaborative act to take place'. Her involvement in projects/events like 'Have city will play' and 'Armed Response II' reveals considerable interest in dismantling conventions of behaviour in public spaces, and also reveals an acute awareness of how humour and play can deflate the seriousness of politically-charged social space.
'Play, participation, action, games, role-playing, rules and intervention are points from which one can access my work. These themes are also points from which I make my work. My work is basically a continuous exploration into the relationships between play and gaming enacted through performance in the public domain. I am also interested in notions of the "pathetic" or "useless" and the juxtaposition of these notions with ideas of urgency, goal-orientation and determinism. My works are created in and inspired by the tension that lies between experiment and safety.
'Games are one of the tools which I use to investigate and negotiate spaces and communities. In this way I see myself as a constructor or director of situations, as well as a player/participant in the games, which I create. Through performance I use this tool - game-making - to negotiate different public spaces and communities. I enjoy taking on roles and in so doing create a testing ground whereby a "three way dialogue" is created between various players, myself and the site where we are playing. This exchange-between myself, the people and the place-creates substance for me to work with.'
'Moys' performance articulates some thought-provoking concepts such as the dichotomy between playfulness and purposefulness and the role both play in comprehending ourselves and the world.'
Mary Corrigall, www.sundayindependent.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4258252
'Her performances and unreal video pieces suggest a harsh reality, yet Moys' work transgresses in a playful manner. Play being the operative word. Consider riding a stationary exercise bike in the middle of the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, as Moys did. This is playful, cheeky too perhaps, but by dislocating the function of the race Moys asks some important questions. Playing or play interrupts and gives occasion to some startling thoughts on the multiplicity that govern our interaction with each other and our environment.'
Lester Adams, www.liveitjozi.com/index.php?category_id=28
Moys recently repeated her performance of the work Unsaid at the Spier Contemporary's Johannesburg incarnation, during March and April 2008. The work, a collaboration with Kai Losgott, was first shown at the Spier Contemporary in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, December 2007. In this work, Moys and Losgott take turns spitting water in each other's faces. The work deals with minor offence and the dismantling of social conventions of standard behaviour, but typically for Moys, does so with a light-hearted and playful sensibility. An element of childish play works to facilitate the breaking down of this wall of adult politeness. Within the confines of the art gallery or event this seems doubly transgressive, yet still in a playful manner. Lightness and humour subvert sombreness in that the former refuse to play by the latter's rules.
In 2007 Moys was involved in a number of important events. Together with American Juliana Smith she curated and contributed work to the second installation of the Göethe Institute's 'Armed Response' show. The exhibition sought to challenge conventional security and crime paranoia, and consider new ways of negotiating presence in public spaces. Other than Moys and Smith, the event drew contributions from Nina Barnett, Jacques Coetzer, Christo Doherty, Maja Marx, Mitchell Said and Nathaniel Stern, amongst others.
In a relatively short time Moys has proved to be rather prolific: since 2004 she has been an active part of a group of strong emerging Johannesburg artists. Her involvement in the show 'Negotiate' at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, an exhibition that hosted a number of interventions, arguably set the tone for much of her subsequent work. Since then she has exhibited on 2005's Everard Read/Brait Award show at the Everard Read Gallery, and 'Women in Photography and New Media' at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2006. Also in 2006, she co-curated 'Kazoo - it's a live art thing' at the Premises at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.
Moys is currently teaching a third year course at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. The course focuses on performance art, and is one which Moys designed herself. She is hoping to get the opportunity to run this course at several institutions.
Moys is also currently participating in the Urban Concerns project, an exchange between artists in Sweden and Johannesburg. She will be the subject of a solo show at BildMuseet in Umea, Sweden over April/May and she will perform there in September 2008. For this project she is currently working on a series of performances/interventions in several of the Gautrain construction sites. Later in 2008 Moys will be orchestrating several site-specific performances for 'Sandton Street Sessions'.
2008 Art Extra: Trickster show
2008 SA Arts Emerging: Rotterdam, Netherlands
2007 Spier Contemporary Art Award (ongoing travelling exhibition)
Intermission Gallery: 'Interruption' (solo). Master's exhibition
'Designing Hope: Paris, France: Noisy-le-Grand', part 2 of I love you positive or negative
Bag Factory: Fordsburg, JHB: 'Action Reaction'
August House: Doornfontein, JHB: 'Kin:Be:Jozi Finale'
Drill Hall: Joubert Park, JHB: 'Extraordinary Deals'
Moja Modern: Parktown North, JHB: 'The Neverending'
Göethe Institut: Parktown, JHB: 'Armed Response II'
Vega School of Design: Cape Town: 'SA Arts Emerging' on X Cape fringe
Facultad de Bellas Artes: Cuenca, Spain: 'MAPS II'
Bag Factory 'Photomarathon'
2006 Wits School of the Arts: 3-day public performance workshop with the 3rd and 4th years
Last One Standing snowball fighting game. Photographer. Fully, Valais, Switzerland
Ethno Café: Geneve, Switzerland: Performance with Donna Kukama
Elias Conference: Gent, Belgium: 'MAPS'
Johannesburg Art Gallery: Joubert Park, JHB: 'Woman in Photography and New Media'
The Premises Gallery: Braamfontein, JHB: 'Kazoo - it's a live art thing'
2005 Brett Kebble Art Award 2005
Everard Read Gallery: Rosebank, JHB: Wits/Everard Read Art Award winners and selected artists
2004 Johannesburg Art Gallery: Joubert Park, JHB: 'Negotiate'
Spark! Gallery: Norwood, JHB: 'Sound Pandemonium'
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS:
2007 Received special acknowledgement at Spier Contemporary Art Award for the performance work Unsaid, in collaboration with Kai Losgott
Received funding from the National Arts Council for exhibition and workshop
2006 CIT:Y Awards: Nominated
2005 Merit Award from Wits University
2007 'Kin:Be:Jozi': part of the Joubert Park Project - exchange project between artists from Bern, Kinshasa and Johannesburg, based in August House, Doornfontein, JHB
2007 Artist Print Workshop hosted by Artist Proof Studio and Art Bank Jo'burg. Artist Proof Studios, Newtown
Action Reaction: Performance Workshop, Bag Factory, with Johan Thom
Performance Workshop: Jay Pather, Colleen Alborough, James Webb and Vaughn Sadie. Wits School of the Arts in connection with Spier Contemporary Art Award
Photomarathon, Bag Factory, Fordsburg, with Bronwyn Lace
2006 Walkshop, Marseilles, France with Hendrik Sturm
2003 Polite Force, Johannesburg city centre, with Christian Nerf