(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…” (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.
feel free to click into the photo galleries and videos, or press the ‘plus signs’ to read more about the projects below.
“geistzeit” is a 45-minute site-specific performance created for 1-2 people at a time. something between a guided tour and a treasure hunt, the work draws attention to the opaque powers that shape(d) the borders of African countries today. four fictional characters activate the site through humour and absurdity, bringing participants into critical relation with practices of imperialism through playing with archetypes of eurocentric knowledge producers such the Tourist, the Guru, the Academic and the Artist.
this piece was developed and written by Coila and myself. after spending a year in relationship with this particular site, we wrote the script and then opened it up to the performers Alexandre Achour, Auro Orso and Cikacé Lestine who then brought their own interpretations to the script and its themes. the work premiered in September 2022.
Supported by the NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK – STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR. Assistance Program for Dance.
Visitations was a three-month long site-specific research project that took place in the block surrounding the location where the so-called “Berlin Conference” took place in 1884 and 1885. Coila and i brought our individual practices of haunting and expanded listening together and visited the site regularly in order to enter into deeper relation with the historically loaded location. specifically, our research looked at the ways in which this particular event, with far-reaching consequences, is often overlooked in the memorial landscape of berlin, drawing parallels between tourism and colonialism, consumption and imperialism and memory and land.
this research was supported by the #TakeCare Grant by NeuStart Kultur, Fonds Darstellende Künste and laid the groundwork for the site-specific performance geistzeit which we did in 2022.
Crossing the Pale River (2020-2021)
in 2020 and 2021, Coila and i created and performed in Crossing the Pale River – an hour-long guided audio walk with intermittent performances. the site-specific work reflects on a street in berlin named after a province in south africa that no longer exists, inviting critical contemplation on the entangled colonial histories of germany and south africa through sound, storytelling, poetry, performance and guided listening prompts.
Crossing the Pale River premiered in September 2021 in the framework of Tanzfabrik’s Autumn Program. Supported by the NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK – STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR. Assistance Program for Dance.
creation & performance: Coila-Leah Enderstein, Nicola van Straaten | assistant/guide: Vilja Mihalovsky | voice actor: Lena Astarte Posch, Mmakgosi Kgabi, Daniella Mooney, Ndinomholo Ndilula | dramaturgy: Hans Peter Kuhn, Scarlet Yu | music composition, mixing, mastering: Coila-Leah Enderstein | Script & editing : Coila-Leah Enderstein & Nicola van Straaten | zine design: Nicola van Straaten | translation into German: Lena Astarte Posch.
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.
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.
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: https://vimeo.com/185616018
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.
Baxter Dance Festival (Cape Town, 2015)
Pur Pur Festival of Transgressive Arts (Cape Town, 2016)
Circle Gallery (Berlin, 2019)