12 Labours is an interdisciplinary performance project, comprised of twelve individual performative acts and public community interventions. The project reimagines the toxicity of conventional understandings of ‘heroism’ and ‘masculinity’ through the localising, adapting and queering of the classic Greek tale of “The Twelve Labours of Hercules”. 12 Labours features a group of queer artists-come-garden-gnomes, in collaboration with local artisans, civil servants, gardeners and contractors, who collectively perform a series of actions centred around notions of repair, community building, gratitude and transgressive joy.
Occurring from April to July 2022, across Makhanda, the twelve labours are presented simultaneously in a single space, throughout the festival. Audiences are invited to move through a multisensory journey of audio and visual documentations and the exhibited detritus of those labours that have already occurred, alongside the live performance of several labours by the artists (during the walkabout).
“There was a time when we needed heroes, but in a world ridded of magic, I propose a lawn of garden gnomes instead. A collective of ordinary queer people who approach acts of service as a kind of love language in an arguably corrupt capitalist economy. And in so doing, we hope to position performance art, as it is traditionally understood, as necessary labour and infrastructure for the public good – because we need performance art as much as we need roads, green spaces and walkways.” – Gavin Krastin