Anthea Moys vs The City of Grahamstown and the City of Geneva 2013-14
In 2013 I won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art in South Africa. In response to this award, the winning artists are awarded time and money to make work for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown – a small city in the Eastern Cape. I wanted to create a work that responded to this place and that included the people that lived, worked, and played in Grahamstown. So, for three months I lived in Grahamstown and joined six different teams. I learned how to dance, sing, play the bag pipes for a battle reenactment society, play chess and soccer and got her yellow belt in karate. I then single-handedly challenged each team to their own game, ultimately losing each battle but still playing with utmost sincerity.
The main concept of the work attempted to reimagine winning. So – what if the process of learning was the winning? After Grahamstown, I went on to challenge the city of Geneva, lived there for 3 months and joined four teams: Swiss wrestling, alpine horn playing, velodrome cycling, and ice hockey, and then challenged each in four performances for the Antigel Festival in 2014.
This video documents my journey from Grahamstown to Geneva; and that re-imagines victory as the act of learning rather than conquest.
This project has been written about here
Participant Interviews for mini documentary series:
“At the beginning she couldnt kick the ball. she couldnt run, she was unfit and now - if you can look at her - to run against eleven players for ten minutes and the score was 5 - 0 ... and the score was meant to be 20 - 0 - meaning that: she did something better!”
“You know here in Grahamstown we only watch things that are happening in festival.
We are not part of it. So when she approached us and told us that this would be part of the festival, meaning that it will be part of the history, it will stay there, it will be in one of the books of festival. So we wanted to be a part of that, instead of just watching every year... this is the first time, for all of us.”
“You know it teaches us one or two things in life; first half it was 1 against 11, second half it was lots of people against 11. You learn one or two things in life you know - you learn: if someone needs a hand - don't just sit there. If you can help - go! Wake up! Stand up! Go and help... that’s what I learnt from today.”
One of the founders of MARU FC and Anthea’s coach in the Final Performance.
"What she brought is a very interesting concept by being on her own and being a woman standing up with all the trials and hassles of this country at the moment and I think it was a nice way of introducing the idea that woman can make a difference in this country. And also her concept of getting people together and making friends."
Head of SABRE (South African Battle Re Enactments) and Education Officer at NELM in Grahamstown. Basil was also my real entry point into getting to know Grahamstown in the beginning, as he had ties to my family: friends with Guy Butler.
"We don't often get a platform to bring chess to the public like this. Rhodes has a small club and Grahamstown doesn't have a big chess scene unfortunately.
I wasn't quite sure what she wanted in the beginning but it was just so fascinating and it has been such a learning experience and now it has culminated in this lovely evening and she has given us an enormous platform. I’ll remember this for a long time.
Seeing myself playing chess on the film in champs, I didn't have a comb (!) and I've never actually seen myself playing chess and we were having a really nice conversation... It was awesome working with her and it was certainly my pleasure."
One of the leaders of Rhodes Chess Club and Anthea’s chess coach.
"I am so delighted. She surprised me! She sang extremely well in three months time, because singing takes ages - to get the technique, the breathing, everything! I think she did very very well. Because standing in front of people there is not a child's play.
Anthea came to Grahamstown with something completely different. I have never heard of someone who is brave like her who comes to the city of Grahamstown and challenges the whole city in different events. So I found it very very exciting and interesting so I said "Of course! I wanna be part of this!""
Head of Victoria Girls Choir and Anthea’s voice coach
“And i think... in allowing this town to show the best of its ‘quirkinesses’ there was also a stunning kind of letting go of ego or unattachment to ego on Antheas part where really she acted as kind of a choreographer rather than a performance artist per say. And that was a wonderful thing to be a part of.”
“And what I love about this project is that this is a project that doesn't begin and end here. This is a project that is so malleable and elastic that it can be taken to any city anywhere in the world and worked again in any number of incredibly dynamic ways.”
East Cape Shotokan Ryu Karate Senpei
One of Anthea’s teachers and her coach in the Final Performance
“I think it’s fascinating. Because of course most sporting events, most events actually are set up around the idea of winners and losers and i think what Anthea's performance does is that it complicates that binary. It shows us that its not as straightforward thing you know? That walking away a loser is not as simple as being the one who scored the least amount of points because actually, we all won, in a sense by being involved in this event and in Anthea's performance. I think she has gained immeasurably from it, but so have we! So in a sense we've all won.”
Maureen de Jaager
East Cape Shotokan Ryu Karate Senpei
Main organiser of the event