Take two: Cohen truncated
26 Oct 2012 17:37 – Sean O’Toole
His performance in Grahamstown has been given a second airing in a more limited and profound form.
Heavyweights take performance art centre stage
On a Monday evening in July, audiences in the Rhodes Theatre in Grahamstown slipped into a kind of religious coma. It was nearing eight. Steven Cohen, with Nomsa Dhlamini, the 90-year-old domestic worker who raised this beautifully wayward artist during his mother’s insobriety, were about to première their collaborative dance work, The Cradle of Humankind, at the National Arts Festival.
All the mandarins of local culture were there. Dressed in cold-weather finery, they made a point of being the last to enter the theatre. They smugly waved and hugged and air-kissed and, yes, swooned — because, well, they knew. South Africa’s Protestant culture, freshly reaffirmed by a choreographed outrage over some painterly conjecture about the presidential penis, was about to have a firecracker stuffed up its bum. And what better venue to dispense this therapy — enema by outrage, you might call it — than the gnarled hippy shindig known as “fest”.