Monday, 20 June 2011


I have seen a youtube video of a segment of my performance at
AfrikaBurn - the piece where I was born from the ground, naked with
only a panty on.
Initially when I saw it I was quite excited and flustered. He first
and last time I have appeared in youtube videos was with a poetry
performance in The Netherlands 2 years ago. I was fully dressed then
The cameraman who uploaded the video on youtube 2 days ago only asked
me whether I mind him uploading the video AFTER the fact. I initially
told him, no worries, and I didn't feel any worries. The fuller
stirrings of this dilemma only started hitting me now.
The context of my performance was at Afrikaburn where one is
surrounded by likeminded people. It is a safe space for the creative
and expressive individual. I do varied performances from strict
classical music recitals, standard performing poetry events, to
challenging, primal, cathartic stuff like this STOF piece at
Afrikaburn. I am quite comfortable with the many facets and roles of
my creative "personae". (It was and still is a long journey to reach
full confidence.)
Yet, I am starting to feel very vulnerable, exposed to see this
youtube video. People's responses have been quite good so far. I think
and hope it's going to be mostly Afrikaburners who'll watch the video,
but hey, Lara, don't be SO naïve. I hear youtube is far more popular
than facebook. (!) Must I feel flattered to have my (naked) presence
on youtube? Must I feel ill at ease? The worry is not the performance
as such - one can scarcely hear my voice. It is the nudity. People
sometime can not see beyond the flesh to the deeper meaning. I have
moved many boundaries in my mind and body, yet I still have a solid
sense of decency, respect, timing and placing. I perform in the nude
in special circumstances, like at a "freedom of expression" festival
like Afrikaburn. The context is of utmost importance. The piece was
directly feeding off the ground, and interacting with a live audience
who was relatively open to and prepared for the idea and theme (and
the nudity).
To have it wam-bam on youtube now seems to me somewhat out of place,
uprooted, disfigured... I can go on oh so dramatically. Why make a big
deal of it? I will, because I feel and think things through. I put
myself out there with great circumspection.
Mm.. The internet can be an untameable beast.
What to do? I don't feel shy. I just feel ever so slightly
uncomfortable. There is quite a lot of photographs of me and other
nude Afrikaburners doing their rounds on the Net. We don't have
control over it.
I hear you saying: if you had a problem with publicised nudity then
you should not have been running around and performing naked in the
first place! Afrikaburn is a heaven for photographers - not just
because of nudists, but the incredible beauty of the colours, the sky,
the artworks, the costumes, the stress-free and attractive demeanour
of the people. I know many moments there are being recorded on film.
That is very much part of the Afrikaburn joy - to archive the
beautiful spontaneity and expressivity.
Afrikaburn is a happening that can and should not be kept under cover.
The spirit and ethos of the fest should spread wider than the Tankwa -
respect for nature; primal dialoguing with the elements; creating a
tolerant space for the free and creative soul; engendering a loving
and compassionate community; installing a gifting economy to replace a
capitalist, consumer-driven society; advocating a mindful,
self-sustainable lifestyle. The deeper meaning of Afrikaburn is not
fully comprehensible from an outsider's perspective. Photos, video and
stories do their utmost best to share what happened there.
I go in the nude with a sense of playfulness, innocence and integrity.
I would like to see the public's perception of nudity broaden with
tolerance and understanding. But we live in warped times. I am comfy
with my nudity in public, mainly because i have an innate attraction
to what is natural and honest. Yet I am not that innocent that I do
not know that nudity can be wrongly judged AND misused. No one has
ever been nasty about my nudity, because I move in mostly open-minded
circle of friends. I do not wish to provoke or lustify like MTV
videos. I wish to make people aware of a childlike spirit that
obstinately clings to the bare skin. (Why can children be barefoot and
bare-bodied and not be frowned upon in public?). It is a naïve wish
perhaps, but I would like to see a future where the paradisiacal state
of innocence, freedom and naturalness will return.
To be comfortable with myself in the Tankwa comes quite naturally, but
to be comfortable to see my semi-nudity spread over the desensitized
space of the internet is quite another.
My mind is unresolved, and a wee but unsettled. Please let me know
what YOU make of it all. Communicate with me on this, please. I am
interested in your opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lara-tjie!

    I myself was quite excited to publish the video here on your blog but then thought about the fact that you do so give a lot of joy to school children country wide with your poetry and music and the school teacher in me kicked in. I don't know so much if I would like my school students to see me in the flesh- it could be totally detrimental to their emotional wellbeing :-) but that's me and I have a lot more flesh to show than you!!

    On the other side, you are performing a work of art and I must say I did not even really clicked that you were nude-ish after the first few seconds. Would love to hear what others say.