Transforming the urban view: Johannesburg Art City
In a project designed to showcase Johannesburg's inner city as the hub and cultural centre the city would like it to become, the first set of 30 artworks, massively enlarged, have been attached to the sides of buildings. The launch is, of course, timed to coincide with the World Summit Development Conference currently taking place in the city.
At an awards ceremony on August 28, eight of the artists received cash awards for the selection of their work, and guests at the opening were treated to a bus tour to view the transforming effect of art on the city.
Twenty art works were selected from almost 200 submitted, and a further 10 selected from work in corporate collections. The selection panel consisted of Bongi Dhlomo, Natasha Fuller, Clive Kellner,
Monna Mokoena and Maishe Maponya. The prize winning artists are Arlene Amaler-Raviv/Dale Yudelman; the Artist's Proof Studio; Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi; Pitso Chinzima; Sandy
Esau; John Fleetwood/John Makua; Abrie Fourie; Stephen Hobbs and Carine Zaayman. The others selected are Carl Becker; Lettie Gardiner; Alison Kearney; Charles Levin; Nkoali Eausibius Nawa; Sam Nhlengethwa; Karin Preller; Jurgen Schadeberg; J W van
Bergen; Scott Wade and Sue Williamson.
The originals are currently being exhibited at the Old Johannesburg Fort. Through its sites, JHB Art City hopes to focus attention on urban regeneration including projects such as the Constitution
Hill, Nelson Mandela Bridge, the revamped Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Gandhi Square in the CBD, Metromarket and the Fashion District. The displays will remain in place until the Cricket World Cup in March 2003.
The project was initiated in 2001 when final-year law student Saul
Symanowitz approached the Central Johannesburg Partnership with the concept, and the CJP developed a project proposal with the Johannesburg Inner City Business Coalition, the Johannesburg Development Agency and Business and Arts South Africa. The Johannesburg Council approved the project in March 2002.
The public will have an opportunity to vote for their favourite work from those displayed through a public participation programme. The telephone number for votes is 084 190 0278
Cell C, in support of Johannesburg Art City, sponsored R500 000 towards the initiative. Johannesburg Art City is not a commercial venture, and any excess income will be placed in a trust fund towards subsequent JAC exhibitions or for the benefit
of the visual arts sector. It is now planned that the Art City will continue for the next four years beginning September 1 to October 31 and each year a competition will be held of work from South African artists.
A full list of artists and sites can be found on the Johannesburg Art City website at http://www.jhbartcity.org.za.
In a second but in some ways, parallel project, in a tribute to the spirit of renewal pervading the inner city, cellular network provider Cell C commissioned more than 40 South African artists to produce 35 works reflecting their personal interpretations of Johannesburg's inner city.
The artists in the project cover the full spectrum of South African society, using materials ranging from paint to wood to cardboard, to plastic bags and wire mesh.
The only criterion was that artists should include a C shape somewhere in the work, and that it should be signed "for the City". Other than that, they were free to interpret the brief in any way they wished.
Also at the launch, Talaat Laham, chairman and chief executive officer of Cell C, said: "We deliberately kept the brief as open-ended as possible to encourage a broad creative response."
These artworks too are to be blown up and erected on buildings at sites within the city in a few days. The display will be in place for a year.