Naomi van Niekerk and Arnaud van Vliet perform in the theatre production Kontinuum, in Grahamstown on 5 July 2016, at the National Arts Festival. Kontinuum a mutli-media production which uses live sand animation, shadow theatre, guitar and voice to quietly reflect themes of love and belonging. Photo: CuePix/Aaliyah Tshabalala
Stashed away in the pokey Bowling Club venue, between empty coffee cups and empty tables covered in comedy show flyers, the ‘inst-inst’ of the dusty neon fairground playing in the background, Kontinuum is a rare and beautiful find.
It’s a multi-media, sand art, shadow puppet, animated love story set to the live sounds of a musician who plays guitar and sings in Afrikaans. The show is quiet, delicate and expressionistic, part story part dream. Hand-crafted imagery is projected onto a small screen in the centre of a stage with musician (Arnnaud van Vliet) and projection master and artist (Naomi van Niekerk) positioned on either side as the visuals of a kind of surreal music video unfold. The audience watched as if hypnotised, the only sounds they dared to make being little gasps of surprise or heavy breathing as they stared forward in wonder like children before a TV.
Without wanting to take away from the integrity of the piece, the hours of imagination and creative work required to make a work of such precision, there was one technical issue that frustrated me. Firstly, from my angle, the light focused on van Vliet was casting spill onto the projection screen making a slight but very annoying golden glare across it. Anyone who has experimented with shadow work or projection knows it is most effective when there is no light bouncing on to the front facet. This looked to be a small mistake from the technicians in the space but with a piece so reliant on detail it was one that was hard to forgive.
That aside, I think Kontinuum is a home-grown piece of visual art with guts and heart. Atmospheric, surreal and evocative, it really is a sublime product of two artists’ imaginations and craft.
— Kei-Ella Loewe