Artists from South Africa, the African continent, and beyond are lined up for the world-first Whatsapp arts festival on your phone – My Body My Space Public Arts Festival 2021.

The My Body My Space Public Arts festival (MBMS) starts in January 2021, with a menu of cutting edge work delivered straight to your phone. It takes place on a dedicated WhatsApp line, featuring over 70 works by artists from SA, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, UK, Germany, Spain and US.

MBMS WhatsApp number

To access the MBMS festival send ‘HI’ to +27600110444, or scan the QR code. From 8 January, 2021, you can save the number, share it with friends and access background information about the fest. From 29 January 2021 the full festival programme goes live, making art available at your fingertips.

Katlego Chale and Teresa Phuti Mojela participate in the MBBS Whatsapp phone festival
Katlego Chale and Teresa Phuti Mojela participate in the MBBS Whatsapp phone festival

Digital engagement

This festival on your phone is inspiring artists to find creative ways of presenting their work in an accessible format that takes art to where people are.

Kamogelo Molobye, a South African performer presents a documentary, The State of the Nation. Molobye says that what excites him about creating a short-format work for the MBMS festival is “the challenge of rethinking about relatable performance modes for inclusive digital access and engagement”.

Leilah Kirsten, who presents Inwards, is equally excited “to be part of an arts festival that is essentially taking place in the homes and spaces of the audience”. She wants to share her creative offering with others who might not normally have access to them, “and hopefully to inspire hearts and minds along the way”.

Fiso Shezi states that MBMS has always “prioritised local communities, by taking art to where people are”. He shares a short-format work.

Getting published

Emakhazeni-based visual artist, Stanford Lubisi, adds that “the most exciting part is that the world is developing, so as it evolves, we also evolve. Everything is becoming digital, and the greatest part about it is that we get published.”

COVID-19 has ushered in a big move onto the digital space, and MBMS 2021 features a number of collaborations that have been enabled through this global shift to working in the online space.

Bonwabise Mbontsi (Pietermaritzburg) collaborates with Nadja Bartel (Germany), Teianna Chenkovich (US) and Eugenia Tovar (Spain) in Homo Terra.

MBMS 2021 includes Erica Lüttich, who will be working with SA’s Adrian Smurf Tony and UK-based artists Katharine Low and Alexandra Netea as part of a Royal Central School of Speech and Drama driven project.

Continental creators include Samwel Japhet Silas (Tanzania); Tinashe Jeri (Zimbabwe); Mozambican choreographer Janeth Mulapha; and Malagasy artists Judith Olivia Manantenasoa and Bary Andriamialison.

A new partnership between the festival and Assitej South Africa brings 12 solo dance pieces to the MBMS 21 menu. The artists are part of Assitej’s In the Works choreographers’ platform.

29 artists are currently being mentored in a digital dance production process by Lo-Def Film factory and Phoenix and Owl Productions.

What: MBMS 2021

When: 29 January to 31 March 2021

MBMS WhatsApp number: ‘HI’ to +27600110444, or scan QR code
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