(friendship as the finest art)

“we are friends, partners, artists, clowns, fools, children, playing and creating out of an intimate urgency to be in the world, alive and defending whatever experience of joy we may have together. as we play, an archive grows and this is where we start to work – returning to the remains, the notes, the footage, the movements and sounds that keep emerging… we comb through our archives and craft them, until we make same but new selves for to see.” (extract from TOME zine)

this page houses the work/love i make with my art-wife, Coila-Leah Enderstein, a pianist, musician and performer. we fondly call our collaboration “THIMK”. we began working/playing together in 2015, primarily through improvisation as a dancer and pianist respectively. since then, our work together has deepened into a complex practice of transformation, accountability and interdependency. we continue to play, work and live together through publications, performances, installations, conversations, arguments, experiments, cooking together, thinking together, counselling each other and witnessing each other. together we transform and unlearn many normative (and sometimes toxic) understandings of relationship, intimacy, domesticity, failure and “professional art”.

feel free to click into the photo galleries and videos, or press the ‘plus signs’ to read more about the projects below.

courtyard dances (2019)

“courtyard dances” is a sound and video installation with a durational performance that was created for and shown at Zwitschermachine Gallery in Berlin. the installation comprised of three 20-minute projected films on loop, with a stereo multi-channelled soundtrack across two rooms. the films, edited by myself and Coila, came from footage of improvisation that we had done in the courtyards of the apartments where we have lived over the past four years; in 2016 (observatory, cape town), in 2017 (muizenberg, cape town) and in 2019 (wedding, berlin). the soundtrack, created by Coila, was comprised entirely of sounds from the footage.

in this way, we created a space holding archives of our improvisation, intimacy and memory. we then occupied this archive with our bodies, responding to the installation and the audience with a three-hour durational improvisation that moved in and out of various states of performativity.

courtyard dances (extracts 2019)

Extracts from the three-hour durational performance during the video installation of “courtyard dances”, presented on 7 & 8 November 2019 at Zwitschermaschine, Postdamer Str. 161, Berlin. Footage by Kim Wichera. Edited by Nicola van Straaten and Coila-Leah Enderstein.

TOME (zine 2019)

This zine formed part of the 2019 performance of TOME.

Rhythm Study II (2016-2019)

“Rhythm Study II” was a second attempt of trying out the same process used in creating “Rhythm Study”. this time, the process became imbued with technical failures and year-long delays. the film incorporates our whatsapp conversations that we had while i was struggling to edit the footage, it embraces the pixelated effects of not knowing how to export a film and it features a very dreamy soundscape. as we attempted to re-create the effortless creative exchange of “Rhythm Study” and instead encountered upsets that became so integral and important – i now wonder if, in the honouring of the oddities that emerge during process, this film speaks more directly to our shared interests in vulnerability, conversation and intimacy.

Rhythm Study (2016)

“Rhythm Study” is a short film of my own improvised dancing that Coila responded to with an improvised score of prepared piano and clapping. the piece was a fluid, simple and joyous exchange of improvisation, rhythm, conversation and creation.

 screened at:

Joburg Fringe (Johannesburg, 2016)

Circle1 Gallery (Berlin, 2019)

TOME (extracts 2016)

Extracts from the performance of TOME at PurPur Festival of Transgressive Arts, filmed at Youngblood Gallery, Cape Town. For the full ten-minute performance, please look here:

TOME (2015)

TOME is a ten-minute duet with piano, and is usually accompanied by a zine made for each performance. our first work together, TOME set out to interrogate and dismantle learned behaviours around our respective classical trainings of classical ballet and classical piano, placing emphasis on the vulnerability of the performer and the intimacy that arises through vulnerability.

performed at:

Baxter Dance Festival (Cape Town, 2015)

Pur Pur Festival of Transgressive Arts (Cape Town, 2016)

Circle Gallery (Berlin, 2019)

All rights reserved. Nicola van Straaten 2020 | Website designed and built by Julia de Rosenwerth.