Pig Headed: Gavin’s bloody art breaks our silence

Gavin Krastin_Pig Headed 4_photo by Alan ParkerSHOCKED theatre goers watched performance artist Gavin Krastin, standing naked and vulnerable but for a strip of tape over his privates, clamp more than 10 clothes pegs into his mouth.

He finally snapped a small mousetrap on his tongue while relentlessy reading the South African Bill of Rights. There is blood on his hands when the trap is finally sprung.

Despite this assault on his ability to speak, the artist struggles on with words muffled and breathing constrained. He gags and hyper-ventilates.

It is incredible that we can still hear the words though. He will not be silenced. He fights on.

In a final horrifying scene he cradles a real pig’s head, draped in the SA flag in his arms, holds up a glass of champagne and raises bizarre, raw and cycnical toast.

It is complex work, and the play notes explain that the pig’s head is more than a political reference to us and our politicians, but comes out William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

For the audience it is a protest against what Krastin, fast becoming an international artist, calls “politricks”.

The self-inflicted brutality is intentionally brutal to watch.

Two audience members crack and leave the show.

Others hold their heads, gaspe, cringe and whince and whisper “Nooooo!

Krastin is saying that the pig-headedness of the corrupt and rotting state is also a reflection on our individual pig-headedness in allowing this all to happen.

What we are doing through our apathy, he seems to be saying, amounts to nothing less than self-censorship.

We are indeed apathetic. Nobody stops him.

In his notes, Krastin quotes Simon from Lord of the Flies, speaking of the severed pig’s head as saying: “Maybe there is a beast – What I mean is maybe it’s only us.”

We may judge his nudity from our own moral view, but Krastin is using his body as a canvas for expression, art and to make statements.

Finally, he stands there with a thin chord taught around his neck is choking him, with two strands running over the top of his head into hooks which hold his nostrils back and flared. His maw is a wooden snout of pegs and and mousetrap. He has become a mirror image of the pig’s head staring at him across the way from atop an SA-flag covered plinth.

We got that, but then he sits down, swabs the soles of his feet with anticeptic, and using a blade, makes two small cuts to draw blood. It is dreadful to watch.

He then walks across a rectacle of suburban-styled manicured lawn its blades spiking his wounds, to the pig’s head, and gives that bizarre toast.

We are beside ourselves.

Is this the choking, bloodied, wounded, assaulted reality of our Chapter 2 Section 9 rights in the Constitution?

He feels it is so, really feels it.

We, in our horror and awe, stumble from of the bowels of the Monument building. We are forced to acknowledge this attack on our human rights and ponder how many South Africans out there are feeling it too.

— Mike Loewe

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