Guy-Andre Lagesse - 'Mari-Mira, The Fancy Shack Spirit' on Durban beachfront
'Mari-Mira' is Creole slang that can be loosely translated as "enormously fantastic" or "terribly eccentric". It is the word Guy-Andre Lagesse has chosen to describe his transportable village that has already had incarnations in Mauritius, Marseilles and Paris before landing in Durban.
Lagesse, a Mauritian artist born in South Africa, travels the world looking for ordinary people, who may not even consider themselves artists, who re-fashion their worlds from the detritus around them. Setting up collaborative projects, he builds houses and parks from commonplace objects - swings and lookout towers from rubbish bins, table football games from driftwood, and flowers from plastic rubbish. Visitors are encouraged to walk around his "fancy shack lands" and physically experience the strange and inventive structures. These include an ingenious house in which everything is made from recycled materials. Often with more than one function, every object is detachable - the sink, the bar, the cupboard that becomes a bed and the bed which becomes a table.
Lagesse's vision is poetic - he seeks the unexpected in the banal; he embraces play, the unexpected and the kitsch. He wants to unearth the whimsical and the lyrical in the prosaic - above all, to tap into and celebrate the extraordinary creativity that exists in ordinary human beings.
In Durban he is working with a number of local artists: Jabulani Mhlabini, a ceramicist whose skills were inherited from his father and grandfather and whose production is linked to ancestral beliefs; Sbusiso Mbele, better known as the "aeroplane man" because he has built his own aeroplane house from corrugated iron, old taxis and busses; and Pat Khanye, who makes tapestries out of plastic bags. Helping Lagesse on the environmental front is Michael How Long, famous for his creation of a free garden in Umlazi where people come to celebrate marriages and birthdays.
'Mari-Mira, The Fancy Shack Spirit' will be open to the public for guided tours or free self-discovery from June 8. It can be found on the Pavilion Site on North Beach in front of the Military Museum.
Opening: June 8
Closing: July 31