Public Art Programme
In 2014, South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy and will also host its fifth election. Cape Town is also the World Design Capital for 2014. All of these create a good context in which to have public art speak to contemporary themes. The Public Art to Promote and Defend Democracy and Human Rights Project is designed and intended to put into the public domain provocative, creative practices (visual art, performances, graffiti, temporary monuments, etc) that will confront passers-by and initiate debate. 10-12 public art interventions will take place over the course of a year, with each one marking a particularly significant date in South Africa’s anti-apartheid or post-apartheid history.
The African Arts Institute (AFAI) will co-ordinate the programme but will work with individual artists, community groups, trade unions, progressive social movements, designers and others who commit themselves to public discourse.
This project will take place over the course of a year. This public art programme is currently being devised and kindly supported by the Prince Claus Fund.
Suggested interventions include:
24-27 April: Commemorating 20 years of democracy in SA
Parliament usually opens with MPs parading their latest designer clothes. This initial intervention would have artists designing and parading – in an alternative fashion show – items that reflect some of the failures and disappointments of post-1994 South Africa e.g. a collapsing house, a crime-affected person, a shot protestor, etc.
1 May: Workers Day
A monument to unemployment will be erected in a public place, with figures changing monthly/quarterly according to official statistical updates about unemployment (currently at 25%) in South Africa
3 May: International Press Freedom Day
The Protection of Information Act seeks to suppress exposure of malpractices within government. A public art intervention will highlight the struggle for freedom of the media and of information distribution.
13-17 June Youth Day focus
June 16 marks the Soweto uprisings of 1976. With a large percentage of its population being youth under 35, this public art intervention will highlight the concerns of contemporary youth.
18 July: Nelson Mandela Day
The birthday of Nelson Mandela will be the first since his passing. A public art intervention will be held to mark his contribution, but also to highlight how short we have fallen from the ideals of his time.
16 August: Commemorating the Marikana massacre
More than 30 striking miners were massacred by police in 2012. This intervention will mark this atrocity.
17 Oct: International Day for Poverty Eradication
With poverty, inequality and unemployment being the three main challenges facing contemporary South Africa, this public art intervention will draw attention to these by showing the differences between those who have and those who do not.
1 Dec: World AIDS Day
Numerous streets have been renamed after struggle heroes to mark their contribution to the bringing about a new society. Yet, hundreds of thousands of South Africans died prematurely of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses due to the ANC government’s refusal to grant them life-saving ARVs. Streets will be temporarily renamed after some of those who have died, having expected a better, longer life in the “New South Africa”.