Short description (2000 characters):
Straddling theatre and live art performance, Gavin Krastin is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and curator with an interest in the body’s representation and operation in alternative, layered spaces. He holds a Master of Arts Degree in Drama (cum laude) from Rhodes University and is immersed in the professional performance art scene in South Africa and abroad. For Gavin the body is a medium for subversion and challenge. He currently lectures at Rhodes University, Makhanda, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies.
He was a Theaterformen Fellow in 2016 (Braunschweig, Germany), a two-time awardee of Pro Helvetia Residencies (Embassy for Foreign Artists Geneva in 2018, and the University of Arts Bern and Muzeum Susch in 2022, Switzerland), and in 2019 formed part of a group exhibition that represented South Africa at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, Czech Republic. In 2021 he received the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art and in 2023 received the Best Curator Award at the annual Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Awards Ceremony (Department of Sports, Arts and Culture).
In 2018 Gavin established a non-profit company, Live Art Arcade, which is a nomadic annual site-responsive platform that avails support, funding and curatorship for emerging artists working in live art performance. The Live Art Arcade strives to create opportunities and employment for rising artists to produce and present new performances for the public within a professional arena.
Permeating multiple spaces, Gavin nurtures and inspires an inventive and imaginative ethos in the realisation of artistic production, education and curation in the performance industry and related communities. His performance works have been shown across South Africa and in the USA, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Switzerland and Greece.
Gavin Krastin matriculated from Abbotts College in Cape Town, South Africa, with 5 distinctions from 6 subjects; after which he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Art History and Visual Culture in 2009, with distinction, from Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa.
Thereafter, he continued to study at Rhodes University where he obtained his Honours Degree in Drama (cum laude) in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Drama (cum laude), specialising in choreography and performance, in 2012. Eleven years later, he returned to the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, and is currently reading towards a PhD in theatre and performance studies with a focus on the curation of live art performance in a part-time/correspondence capacity as he lectures fulltime at Rhodes University.
The breadth and scope of his practice make him who he is today. He initiated a unique curatorial endeavor for young artists which opened the door to great opportunities for them.
He is an artist, curator, and educator working predominantly in live art performances. His interests lay in the body’s representation in alternative and layered spaces using a practice that straddles theatre, dance, visual arts, and curatorship, resulting in artworks that are full of beauty and intrigue. The queering of spaces and bodies intrigues him and inspires a questioning of behaviours and transgressions in his work. Rather than using performance to escape the politics and mess of the body, he uses his body to occupy and subvert aspects of presentation and representation.
He has been commissioned to produce 15 original performance productions – in South Africa and the USA, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Switzerland. He is a Theaterformen Fellow (Braunschweig, Germany), a two-time awardee of Pro Helvetia Residencies (hosted by the Embassy for Foreign Artists Geneva, Switzerland in 2018, and then the University of Arts Bern and Muzeum Susch in 2022), and in 2019 he formed part of a group exhibition that represented South Africa at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, Czech Republic, which celebrates the best of international performance and scenography. In 2021, he was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art, resulting in the large-scale community-driven collaborative project “12 Labours” (2022), and very recently this year the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture awarded him the Best Curator Award at the annual Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Awards Ceremony.
Notable works include “12 Labours” (2022), “Yet to be Determined” (2018), “Pig Headed” (2016), “On seeing red and other fantasies” (2015), “#omnomnom” (2014) and “Rough Musick” (2013). These works and more have toured national significant festivals such as the Live Art Festival (Cape Town), the Dance Umbrella (Johannesburg) and the National Arts Festival (Makhanda) and a host of international festivals, theatres and galleries.
Most importantly, in 2018, he established a non-profit company, Live Art Arcade, which is a nomadic annual site-responsive platform that avails support, funding and curatorship for young and emerging artists working in performance. They strive to create opportunities and employment for emerging artists to produce and present new performances for the public within a professional arena. To date, the rolling project has benefited dozens of young artists across the country and continued to provide professional platforms to artists throughout the pandemic. Over the years they have partnered with hubs such as Theatre Arts in Cape Town, the Network for Embodied Research in Africa in Makhanda and the Centre for Creative Arts in Durban while also establishing robust supportive relationships with the National Arts Council of South Africa, the National Arts Festival, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme.
Permeating multiple spaces, he nurtures and inspires an inventive and imaginative ethos in the realisation of artistic production, education and curation in the performance industry and the communities.
He is immersed in the professional performance art scene in South Africa and abroad. From 2013, he lectured at UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies, but in 2018 he joined his alma mater, Rhodes University (or the University Currently Known as Rhodes), as a lecturer in the Department of Drama. During this time, in 2018, he founded and currently runs the Live Art Arcade, a non-profit company for emerging artists, and is currently working on a book documenting and celebrating the Live Art Arcade and its associated artists from inception to date.
Career achievements include being commissioned to create and tour seminal works such as “12 Labours” (2022), “Yet to be determined” (2018), “Pig Headed” (2016), “On seeing red and other fantasies” (2015), “#omnomnom” (2014) and “Rough Musick” (2013) at prestigious festivals, events and venues across South Africa and USA, Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil and Switzerland.
Awards and nominations include:
2023: Awarded the Best Curator Award from Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Awards Ceremony (Department of Sports, Arts and Culture).
2021: Awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art.
2020: Nominated for the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ Humanities and Social Sciences Awards for Best Public Performance.
2016: Nominated for Creative Nestlings Young African Performance Artist.
2014: Awarded the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award.
2013: Awarded the Theatre Arts Administrative Collective Award for Performance Art and selected Art Africa’s “Bright Young Things”.
2012: Awarded the Standard Bank Aha Award.
2011: Awarded the Standard Bank Encore Award, the Standard Bank Ovation Award and the Investec Rhodes Top 100 Award for Arts, Culture and Media.
He is directly involved in specific communities and in creating particular communities through the establishment of the non-profit company, the Live Art Arcade, which he founded in 2018 and currently runs in collaboration with various cultural workers and artists. The Live Art Arcade emerged as a nomadic exhibition platform for early-career artists working in interdisciplinary performance. Their aim is to produce immersive assemblages of experimental performance encounters and that has been achieved by realising an acute focus on the creation and presentation of new performances and by working with partnerships and seeking new connections in order to employ emerging freelancing artists.
Working within the community of emerging artists, they provide the resources, support and scaffolding needed by the artists to realise new performances for local audiences. This stimulates an engagement with experimental performance within communities while assisting in the growth of the artists’ careers as their artistic practices are positioned in the public arena to gain professional traction. Many of the artists who have worked with the Live Art Arcade have found further employment as artists and/or have had their works bought and toured by local, national and international artistic directors.
Community is key and at the Live Art Arcade, the approach to creating, producing, facilitating and curating performance is that of collaboratively and communally worlding a pluriverse in a speculative and joyful manner.
Something wildly unexpected happened at the end of August 2021. Due to the nature of the work, he does with his body, he injured himself and his spine detached from his pelvis as his last lumbar vertebrae dislodged and the disk cushioning it herniated and sequestrated into his spinal cord, resulting in partial paralysis from the waist down (and excruciating and debilitating back pain). Amid Covid-19, he had 3 consecutive emergency surgeries to save the nerves and part of his spine was fused and reconstructed with internal prosthetics. He had to re-learn how to walk and how to operate his body again and embarked on a lengthy rehabilitation process. The surprising part is that the very day he was released from the hospital in mid-September, he was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance. He had no choice but to call on his immediate community to work so hard to heal. In June of the following year, he presented the largest, most collaborative and community-driven performance work of his career.