What kind of a year has 2019 been for you?
2019 has been a significant year for me on many levels, professionally but also in my personal life. It felt like the culmination of a three-year cycle really; fast paced and unforgiving. It also marked a lot of firsts.
Most of it was spent on stage with me returning to performing myself. I was lucky enough to see my work travel to countries I’d never exhibited in before, including Mexico, the USA, and South Africa, to name a few. I was also nominated for the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard Prize 2019, which was the first time I’d been up for an art prize. All in all, it felt like my year of adulting.
What has changed for the better?
For the first time in my career I have been able to plan ahead and put my foot down when it didn’t feel right. It isn’t always easy, or possible, to remain clear-headed when the wave hits the shore.
What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
All the good stuff I was promised in the hundreds of horoscope and tarot reading videos I’ve watched assiduously throughout the year.
What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
I rarely think in terms of achievement when it comes to my work as I see it as a continuum, a wave-like movement, one that is wide-ranging and exploring different intensities. There were a few highs that felt special but touring Sènsa, a new performance initially created for Performa 19 and Abrons Arts Center, New York, in collaboration with musician and music producer Melika Ngombe Kolongo and theatre director Ariel Efraim Ashbel was definitely a very humbling and blissful experience.
Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
To slow down, as I said I would.
What would make 2020 a better year than 2019?
I’m looking forward to collaborating with some of my favorite people, including my brother Simon, and to going back to some of the magical places I have been brought to in 2019. Cape Town, Johannesburg, Santo-Domingo and Nida are front-runners. I’m also looking forward to performing in Chicago, Zürich and Glasgow.
But on top of my list is the four-month break I’m taking right from the beginning of the year in order to unwind, re-centre, reflect and replenish myself!
1. Paul Maheke, Nkisi, and Ariel Efraim Ashbel, Sènsa, 2019. Performance view, Abrons Art Center, New York, November 2019. Co-commissioned with Abrons Arts Center and Red Bull Arts for the Performa 19 Biennial. Photo: Paula Court
2. Paul Maheke, Nkisi and Ariel Efraim Ashbel, Sènsa, 2019. Performance part of Meetings on Art, La Biennale di Venezia – Biennale Arte 2019, November 2019. Credit Marco Franceschin. Courtesy Delfina Foundation and Arts Council England
3. Paul Maheke, Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer *deep within*, 2016-2018. Performance part of Meetings on Art, 58th Venice Biennale, 2019. Photo: Riccardo Banfi. Courtesy: Delfina Foundation and Arts Council England
4. Paul Maheke, OOLOI, 2019, Triangle France – Astérides, Marseille. Photo: Aurélien Mole