Mars is a Joburg icon. Drive around Newtown, Fordsburg, and along Barry Hertzog Ave and you’ll see his telltale signs. The 25-year-old graffiti artist has pretty much made his mark across the city. This week his exhibition From The Ground Up is on at Two By Two Gallery in Newtown. It’s definitely worth seeing. Before Instagram and inner city gentrification there was Graffiti and with it came the mingling of exhaust and paint fumes, the scraping away of rot and unearthing urine-stained sidewalk weeds for the perfect spot. There was finding the best wall and owning it, but most of all burning the rest. This is graffiti and it all started from the ground up.”
A long overdue post on an exhibition that came and went but one that has stayed in my imagination… There is no better word than Huw Morris’ own descriptor of “murky” to describe the territory of his photographic series So, this is desire? In 11 photographs the 30-something photographer’s narrative of love set in a 1970’s South African home pulls at a small thread in the fabric of South Africa’s domestic story and as the viewer you are left with the feeling of helplessly watching something unravel.
Sunday morning in Newtown. We joined the lovely Jo Buitendach from Past Experiences, the original city walking tour company for a graffiti walk. Jo’s in the process of writing her M.A. thesis focusing on the heritage value of graffiti in Newtown. Hopefully it will end up as a book. She has an anthropological take likening it to early human’s need for self-expression once realised in rock art.
I love meeting people who are shaping the city and I had been curious to meet Hannelie Coetzee for some time, having seen her “Hover” and “Ouma Miemie and Aunt Vya” on city walks…
Hannelie Coetzee’s work spills out of her studio and into the surrounding streets. The artist moved into Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, on the city’s east side, two years ago and the streets are now her canvas.
Ouma Miemie and Aunt Vya by Hannelie Coetzee, walking on Commissioner Street
Every day thousands of hands stretch out along commuter routes across Gauteng speaking a silent language of taxi hand signs. The upraised index finger, indicating you are headed to town and the hand turned palm-side up, the fingers grasping an invisible fruit to signify your destination is Orange Farm, are read by minibus taxi drivers all the time and are the framework for a complex system of transport routes. Developed from necessity, and with ingenuity, this silent exchange of signs is the fundamental unit of communication for millions of minibus taxi commuters. Continue reading →
Azania Mosaka features in one of the film pieces. She was styled by Marianne Fassler
If we started out by apprehending what we see in the media through Kudzanai Chiurai’s 16SNLV, rather than the other way around, I think we would better grasp the nature of a violence-soaked world. With his latest work the artist disrupts the steady stream of graphically violent images and descriptions all around us, poking a sharp stick into how society increasingly shuts down in response to public violence.
Marco Cianfanelli’s Shadow Boxing sculpture of Nelson Mandela (2013)
In a week in which the country and the world has held its breath while Nelson Mandela fights a lung infection in a Pretoria hospital, he stands tall and powerful on an inner city block. Nelson Mandela as a public figure is returned to Johannesburg, and specifically to the places he inhabited in the 1950s. Marco Cianfanelli’s newly unveiled sculpture of Mandela, “Shadowing Boxing” towers above Fox Street, Ferreirasdorp. Placed between Chancellor House and the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this must have been a path that a young Mandela walked many times. Continue reading →
Artist Ryan Arenson dreams in one colour – baby yellow, but produces work in many. For the past two years he has been immersed in creating a six-year-old boy called Baby Yellow, an alter ego conceived on an iPad who since has taken on an unexpectedly rich digital life, drawing, writing books, playing in a band, creating music and enacting all manner of fantasies while he blurs the line between childhood exploration and adult subject matter. Baby Yellow lives in Arenson’s Johannesburg apartment. He inhabits the space as if he owns it… Continue reading →
The first Joburg Winter Sculpture Fair, was held at Nirox in the Cradle of Humankind on the weekend of May 4-5. A two-day Fair organised by Artlogic, the makers of the Joburg Art Fair and Food Wine Design, it was a supreme event. Perfect winter sunshine, winemakers and chefs imported from Franschhoek and a really superb sculpture exhibition in the extraordinary landscape that is Nirox.
It takes a foreign sensibility to see Joburg’s suburban streets with new eyes. And I highly recommend it. On Friday morning we joined artists Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley for a walk through Parkwood. Not your average walk, as we were encased in a cardboard Volkswagen Citi Golf. The two Stuttgart-based artists have been working as “artists-in-residence” at the Goethe-Institut for the past six weeks. They arrived in Joburg intending to look at the theme of security.
From beaded guard dogs to the fake ivy that doubles up as vicious spikes on suburb walls, they spent their time taking in the many ways and aesthetics in which people in this city protect their homes from outside invasion. Whether the threat is real or imagined…