Cape Town: Jay Pather

Click to enlarge
Jay Pather near his Cape Town apartment.

Jay Pather near his Cape Town apartment. Image: Brett Rubin

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Pather at work in a local cafe.

Pather at work in a local cafe. Image: Brett Rubin

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Pather and his assistant choreographer Leila Anderson at work.

Pather and his assistant choreographer Leila Anderson at work. Image: Brett Rubin

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At rest with Anderson.

At rest with Anderson. Image: Brett Rubin

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Hands on District Six Museum, one of Pather’s public art spaces.

Hands on District Six Museum, one of Pather’s public art spaces. Image: Brett Rubin

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Pather staged shows at the nearby Turkish Baths last year.

Pather staged shows at the nearby Turkish Baths last year. Image: Brett Rubin

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For one week of the year, visual artists, composers and choreographers take over Cape Town, installing and presenting provocative work in its public spaces. This year Infecting The City, the festival Jay Pather curates, features 52 works by national and international artists. His festival audience combines with the public and “an unlikely sharing of art” occurs, which is in line with Pather’s vision.

“I’m interested in bringing anarchic ideas into conventional and public spaces,” he says.

Pather, 53, is an art maker too, and describes his own work as mixed media, site-responsive performance that has its roots in choreography and visual arts. His Julius Caesar was presented as several installations in 14 rooms of the Cape Town City Hall recently.

“Artists in the city make work that reveals the contradictions of a beautiful landscape and the ugliness of the continued legacy of poverty,” says Pather, who believes the real test for Cape creatives is how they remap the city, yanking it from its horrible past. It’s what drives the Durban native (he was New York-based before making Cape Town his home seven years ago).

Pather is tuned to its heartbeat, living in an apartment in the city centre. He walks everywhere, thriving on the urban energy spilling out of the cafes, bars and shops on nearby Long Street.

“There is a strong appetite in this city for innovation and risk,” he says. “The re-imagining of proud indigenous traditions with modernity are a great source of inspiration.”

Pather Recommends:

  • A night at Intimate Theatre, a small gem of a venue devoted to works of innovation.
  • A night at 021, a club with cutting edge music (and on the weekends, drag from the Cape Flats), located in Green Point.
  • Bread, Milk & Honey for a mix of healthy salads and decadent dark chocolate tarts.

For more on Cape Town, click here.


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