Crossing the Pale River (2020 - 2021)



Image by Zee Hartmann

Guided audio walk with intermittent live performances along Transvaalstraße in Wedding, Berlin. Created and performed by white South African artists Coila-Leah Enderstein and Nicola van Straaten, the site-specific work reflects on a street in Berlin named after a province in South Africa, which no longer exists.

The “Transvaal” was a province in South Africa from 1852 up until 1994. When the British took control of the Cape in the early 19th century, the descendents of Dutch farmer-settlers (the Boers) traveled north-eastwards with the hopes of establishing a homeland and to evade British colonial rule. The demarcation of territory north of the Vaal river (which has its source in present-day Mpumalanga province) was the culmination of this journey, commonly known as the “Great Trek”. This mass migration displaced indigenous and Bantu-speaking peoples and played a prominent role in the formation of white Afrikaner identity.

The presence of a street named after the Transvaal in Germany’s capital betrays a complex set of historical relations and the racial project of nation-building, particularly in the ways it intersects with symbols of Germany’s own history of empire: the streets that cross Transvaalstraße being Lüderitzstraße, Togostraße, Guineastraße, Senegalstraße and Afrikanerstraße.

Starting from their perspectives as descendents of European settlers, the two artists interweave their personal narratives and lesser-known histories in order to critically reflect together on our relations to coloniality, land, naming and mapping.


Image by Zee Hartmann

Performances as part of the Tanzfabrik Autumn programme on 17, 18, 24 and 25 September 2021 at 15:00. Registration via Tanzfabrik.

Creation & performance: Coila-Leah Enderstein, Nicola van Straaten | Assistant/Guide: Vilja Mihalovsky | Voice Actor: Lena Astarte Posch, Mmakgosi Kgabi, Daniella Mooney, Ndinomholo Ndilula | Dramaturgy: Hans Peter Kuhn, Scarlet Yu | Music composition, mixing, mastering: Coila-Leah Enderstein | Script & editing : Coila-Leah Enderstein & Nicola van Straaten | Translation into German: Lena Astarte Posch.

Supported by the NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK - STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media within the framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR. Assistance Program for Dance.