Infecting the City: Cape Town’s open-air street art festival

Once a year Cape Town’s streets are taken over by artists and performers, who pop up on corners across the city centre to make art accessible to all.

Cape Town’s art scene is not just about high-end art galleries – the urban street vibe is just as alluring.

“Having public art on the street turns the street into as much of a tourist attraction as the conventional spots,” says Cape Town-based urban designer and architect Kirsten Wilkins.

A prime example of this is the annual celebration of local artistic talent known as Infecting the City, which aims to bring socially engaged performance and visual art to the streets.

Taking place around February or March each year, the festival hosts a varied range of site-specific art, interventions and performance in the central part of the city.

Presented by the Africa Centre, a non-profit organisation that creates opportunities to explore contemporary African artistic practice as a tool for social change, a new theme is presented each year for local artists to respond to.

Using Cape Town city centre corners as staging grounds, city squares as bandstands and forgotten spaces in the heart of the city as theatres, as well as concert halls and galleries, many of the works are innovative amalgamations of multiple artistic genres that speak to the melting pot that is Cape Town. Besides the designated routes, much of the festival’s content must simply be stumbled upon.

Here’s a taste of what to expect:

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