A lone, distant voice hidden behind bamboo reeds can be heard. The audience looks around to see who it may belong to, but the person is never seen. They move on. Sounds familiar? Does this remind you of the many womxn who go missing, who may be heard of but are never seen again?
A topic once considered as vexed particularly in the black community, Walk shines a spotlight on rape culture and trauma imposed on the bodies of womxn and gender non-conforming persons. This performance piece captures the trauma before the healing by confronting this violence, which was once avoided or spoken about behind closed doors and in whispers. It exposes the audience to a side which is often familiar to the victim before the survival. A performance using the outdoor botanical garden as its stage and the darkness of the night as its backdrop, the audience is taken on a journey through the garden. Guided by torch lights, the audience walks with the performers through each piece.
Isolation, shock, anger and a prayer. Each installation takes the audience through the aftermath of violence. From the rising from the dust to the rinsing of the blood. And from a prayer to God to a plea with the ancestors. This performance shows how human victims are and how that is often taken away from them. The installations remove the expectation of super-human strength we place on victims, but brings us closer to the truth: all humans hurt. And bleed. And pray, just like we do. Being a stone’s throw away from the performers, yet being unable to help, emphasises just how much society still stands on the sidelines to watch.
This seven-womxn performance speaks to a kind of violence and trauma. Rape culture. One we have been numbed to. Walk honours the memories of those who have experienced brutal attacks and the deaths by sensitising the audience to the violence, the trauma and most importantly the bodies which are often obliterated. While the audience walk towards the gate of the garden, the performers are silently swallowed into the darkness. They are no longer seen. And not heard again.
Walk showed at Osnee Cottage, Botanical Gardens.
By Zondelela Njaba