Photography and Q & A by Gareth Coleman
Gareth Coleman: Tell us a bit about SHAPE/SHIFT.
Robyn Keiser: SHAPE/SHIFT is a new concept hosted by Artclub and Friends, a Cape Town based unisex label designed by artists for artists. In collaboration with performance artist Chester Martinez we have created a new platform that is aimed at holding space for Cape Towns dancers and performers.
Gareth Coleman: What brought on the idea to have such a wonderful and inclusive event?
Robyn Keiser: I grew up as a dancer and it’s a form of art in South Africa that I feel is still overlooked. Nothing moves me or heals me like watching someone perform. But what transpired at our first event after putting the idea out into the universe exceeded our wildest dreams. I dm’d Chester without knowing them- explained I’ve been following them for years and although we didn’t know each other, there’s no one else I could’ve imaging creating the space with. In terms of it being an inclusive space- I think the combined energy of all of the creatives involved naturally attracted people to the event who were also longing for a new outlet. We wanted to create a space that encourages acceptance, expression and connection. We are still so overwhelmed by the energy that was in the room that night.
Gareth Coleman: Tell us more about Chester
Chester: Where to start…hahaha. I am 24 years old. I am a non-binary performance artist. My first language is movement. Being Chester is me moonlighting as a human. I have been on this journey of becoming the artist that I am today for 11 years and look forward to continuing on for as long as I am on this planet 🙂
Gareth Coleman: What major dance projects were you involved in?
Chester: As a dancer, my time spent working with FKA twigs on tour, doing ROOMS (an immersive Theatre production) and filming a global campaign for NIKE has definitely been the first peak of my young career.
Gareth Coleman: Who is Cheshire V?
Chester: Cheshire V, V being for Violet, is the personification of the hyper-feminine aspect of my psyche. My Anima if you will.
What can we expect for future SHAPE/SHIFT events?
Robyn Keiser: Well, we weren’t sure how it was going to land. Moving a crowd around throughout the night and stopping them to watch various performances could have been terrible. But it was beautiful, emotional and something we will never forget. It’s in the name, SHAPE/SHIFT is going to morph and grow into what it needs to become. And we’re going to facilitate that as best we can- we’re already planning the next one, ofcourse. We are already dreaming of the possibilities.
Chester: We look forward to creating many safer spaces for any and all humans to be held in their entirety and highest truth. As we party together and find community in one another, we will continue to celebrate and honour the complexities of this human experience through the live performance aspects of our event. Holding up a mirror for people to delve deeper into themselves, daring people to journey through the vastness of their inner worlds.