Date: March 3, 2013

Author: ecachucho

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Penal Illustrations – Pro Helvetia ANT Funding

Penal Illustrations, a performance to be premiered on the 20th of June, has been selected by Pro Helvetia for tis ANT funding programme.

‘The funding is available for projects in dance, theatre, music and visual arts that provide increased public exposure of high quality contemporary work across national borders (e.g. presentation of a South African work in Zimbabwe). Priority countries are South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but motivations for opportunities in other SADC countries will be considered.’

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In 1860, Thomas Babington Macaulay (historian and politician), was responsible for compiling the Indian Penal Code. This penal code was later reproduced in many other British colonies. What was unusual about the Indian version by Macaulay, was a series of ‘illustrations’ for each section. These didactic textual illustrations describe penal concepts such as ‘giving false evidence’, ‘cheating’ and ‘mischief’, somewhat didactic and theatrical, these descriptions permeate the entire document.

“B. is employed by A., the owner of a kraal in Griqualand East, to tell him why his child C. is suffering from measles. B. accuses D. of having bewitched the child by means of a charm which D. has received from a baboon…” (Section 177-188, Draft Transekian Penal Code, 1883)

Penal Illustrations takes these abstract illustrations as their starting point for a performance work that plays with the dialogical spaces between the abstraction of laws and the inevitable local specificity that arrises within the abstraction. Baboons, witchcraft, human sacrifice … appear as characters themselves in this characterless world of illustrations.

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