The South African Ntsoana Dance Theater Company presented Inhabitant at the 24th Street BART Plaza last weekend, baffling some as it was often impossible to tell the planned performance from real events — including an arrest.
“The work is really about co-habitation of the space with the people already there,” said Inhabitant co-creator and conceptual artist Vaughn Sadie. Visiting from Johannesburg, South Africa, Ntsoana includes artistic director Sello Pesa, Brian Mtembu and Humphrey Maleka, in collaboration with Sadie.
The most interesting parts of the performance on Saturday night did not happen at the center of the plaza where most of the audience gathered around a speaker’s podium.
They happened outside this circle, at the edges of the plaza, where the planned performance bled into the real life of the street.
The artists had invited several local people to perform in the piece and they themselves performed disruptions of the speakers at the podium. But there were also uninvited performers, unplanned disruptions and unexpected encounters.
In all this confusion, one thing became clear: We are all inhabitants of our urban space, and inhabitants are always performing. The work Inhabitant just makes us acutely aware of this.