performance 2 (passage)

The second in my series of Sentimental Constructions, performance 2 (passage) is a similarly site-conditioned, publicly performed architectural structure made of rope. The piece, erected in Joubert Park, Johannesburg South Africa (2007), twists the idea of ‘public space’ by its double activation: first, through the volunteers who stretch its form outward and around them; and second, through the communal play of the park’s inhabitants, which gives the structure a performative turn.

Although the design is, itself, a passage – several doorframe shapes in series, swinging freely from atop four wooden poles – it can only move between hard and soft, virtual and actual, public and private, through its contact with people. This is juxtaposed with the inconsistencies of South Africa’s major inner-city: crumbling art deco buildings surrounded by crowded streets and busy taxi ranks, all making way for the quiet of the Johannesburg Art Gallery’s neo-classical architecture, and the leisurely games, picnics and ice cream stands in the inexplicably carved-out Joubert Park. The surrounding areas of the park have historically been a bundle of contradictions – before, during and after Apartheid – sustained as civic spaces because of how they’re used by the public. performance 2 playfully mirrors the contradictions of this space and its utility, and further underpins the tensions between work and play, nostalgia and possibility, construction and emergence.