By: Sacha Knox
Sometimes in life, we are fortunate enough to be seized, to be shaken, to be thoroughly rearranged. Fana Tshabalala’s INDUMBA was the fever from Vladislavić’s ‘Double Negative’: “Flaring with light, leaking colour from the raw edges of my hands and feet, I lay in the bath until my temperature broke. At the worst, the water was boiling around me, frothing over the lip of the bath. Afterwards I felt over exposed and paper thin…My hands were dusted with flour: I couldn’t bear the pressure of one fingertip on another”.
I cannot click this out on keyboard; these small soft strokes are paltry, lie prostrate to the encounter. Sitting in the theatre, every nerve of my body extended; my skin was made bare with flare and flush, bulb bursting and strange to touch. The pressure that those bones held, the way those muscles pulled to chests; perplexing breath, confusing blood. The way they abandoned backwards, dangerously down, to cranium catches that folded forward, kneading through the backs of wrists, compressions snapping, tidal and taut.
INDUMBA was utterly immersive and unlike anything I have ever encountered. My face streamed with tears, I was made witness, convert in a strange communion, dirty jeaned and unworthy. Everything was amplified; the room reverberating to a single bead of sweat, I felt stretched in a bed too small. Intensely human; repetitions, directions, sounds muffled as if through walls, a heel, a toe, a heel, a toe, ankles in augur of the irrevocable instant. Bodies balanced to weight the air, fingers to flick a thousand small sounds, seen in the swallow of Nicholas Aphane’s masterful musical composition. Each curve was curious; the unsuccinct synch of the cellular sacrificial- the offering up of intensely personal geometries. There was something of the horror of the world, of the need to shed, to scrub ‘til raw, to articulate each small extinguish.
I thought of Ingmar Bergman’s Elizabet(h), watching Thich Quang Duc burn across a screen. I thought of Syria, of Fukushima, of kids kicking around Tin Can Town, of planetary movements, shifts of axis silenced as simulacrum. And of all of this in other things, things within the body, within a dream, seeping through pores onto pillow that grandmother gave, living close to the kitchen, carried through the classroom, to all of the spaces where it cannot be spoken; a fragile glass. INDUMBA was a powerful shatter, a fearless flight, an inarticulate stream to blaze bareheaded and bright.