Acts of Transgression

Acts of Transgression

Contemporary Live Art in South Africa

by Catherine Boulle and Jay Pather

Published by: Wits University Press

372 pages, 152.40 x 228.60 mm, 70 Illustrations, color

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781776142798
  • Published: February 2019


  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9781776144648
  • Published: February 2019



Fifteen writers explore the experimental, interdisciplinary and radically transgressive field of contemporary live art in South Africa, focusing on a wide range of perspectives, personalities and theoretical concerns.

Contemporary South African society is chronologically ‘post’ apartheid, but it continues to grapple with material redress, land redistribution and systemic racism. Acts of Transgression represents the complexity of this moment in the rich potential of a performative art form that transcends disciplinary boundaries and aesthetic conventions. The contributors, who are all significantly involved in the discipline of performance art, probe its intersection with crisis and socio-political turbulence, shifting notions of identity and belonging, embodied trauma and loss. Narratives of the past and visions for the future are interrogated through memory and the archive, thus destabilising entrenched colonial systems.

Collectively analysing the work of more than 25 contemporary South African artists, including Athi-Patra Ruga, Mohau Modisakeng, Steven Cohen, Dean Hutton, Mikhael Subotzsky, Tracey Rose and Donna Kukama, among others, the analysis is accompanied by a visual record of more than 50 photographs. For those working in the fields of theatre, performance studies and art, this is a must-have collection of critical essays on a burgeoning and exciting field of contemporary South African research.