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Art Stars Revealed: 15 of the Nation’s Top New Experimental Artists Descend on Vryfees 2014

The final 15 have been chosen. Participants for the inaugural OPENLab 2014, a new national laboratory for Early and Mid Career Artists and Creative Practitioners interested in making art in the public realm have been selected from around the country.

Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfestival says ‘OPENLab is a unique national opportunity for practitioners working in dance, visual arts, performance art, architecture, fashion, new media, sound art and design to explore new approaches to site based practices across different communities, disciplines and geographical contexts. There was a very high caliber of applicants and the Vryfestival is very proud to have initiated this inaugural lab in partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS).’

Artists participating in OPENLab 14 are: Adelheid von Maltitz (Bloemfontein), Elgin Rust (Capetown) Francois Knoetze (Capetown), Gavin Krastin (Capetown), Kira Kemper (Johannesburg), Lesiba Mabitsela (Capetown), Nadja Daehnke (Capetown), Nieke Lombaard (Bloemfontein/Capetown), Phumulani Ntuni (Johannesburg), Roxy Kawitsky (Capetown), Sandile Radebe (Johannesburg), Sethembile Msezane (Capetown), Siphumeze Khundayi (Capetown), Sonia Radebe (Johannesburg) and Wayne Reddiar (Durban).

OPENLab 2014 was developed by curators, designers and artists Carli Leimbach (AU), Paul Gazzola (AU), Lynda Roberts (AU), Tècha Noble (AU) and Jay Pather (SA) as part of the Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD) initiated by the Vryfestival and the University of the Free State. Other facilitators include Phillipa Tumubeinee (SA, Architect & Designer), Nadia Cusimano (AUS, Performer & Dramaturge), Bec Dean (AUS, Curator & Writer) and Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin (AUS, Artist & Educator). It is funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the National Lottery Distribution Fund (NLDTF) and supported by Map (Modern art projects) - South Africa.

OPENLab Coordinating facilitator Paul Gazzola says: ‘‘15 years ago I had the great privilege of spending three months on an artists exchange in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. This time was highly formative in developing my artistic practice that seeks to explore themes of people, place and the creation of works within diverse communities and cultures. Coming back in the role of Coordinating facilitator for the OPENLab 2014, is again a great opportunity to continue these explorations in dialogue with the extraordinary South African participants and facilitators involved.’

MIDM's Sonia Radebe, a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Diepsloot, Johannesburg suggests of the lab: ‘I have realized that the process that one goes through in this kind of work allows the creator and performers to be knowledgeable about the space, the texture, the history or story it is telling on it's own, and how they need to inform each other. So the space is living as much as the performers.’

Wayne Reddiar, an interactive media arts practitioner from Durban commenting on the focus of the group work says: ‘I make work where a social condition and environment intersect. This is often done both independently but also with collaborative partners.’

OPENLab 2014, an investment in future thinking, creative networks and professional development, will take place over 10 days from 18 July-27 July 2014 at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein alongside the Vryfestival and a weeklong studio held at Map (Modern art projects) - South Africa in Richmond, Northern Cape.

The OPENLab 2014 artists and facilitators will present an overview of their work to the public as part of a “Proesel”/Sampler afternoon on Saturday, July 19 in the Jazz Lounge at the Vryfees from 2 to 4 pm, and attend the forum ‘Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation’ at the Naval Hill Planetarium on Mandela Day, 18 June 2014, For more information visit, or contact: Angela de Jesus, Curator Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. T: (051) 401-2706 E: #OPENLab14

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