Should our cities be planned in advance or should people occupy first and let planning come later? This question was posed on Wednesday night at a series of talks around urban land justice and rights to the city in Cape Town's City Hall. The next guerilla gallery project, by Sandile Radebe, intersects with this theme: 'Golden City Plan' is a mural intervention in Jeppestown that takes the form of the city plan while simultaneously critiquing its ideology.
Radebe will take to Johannesburg inner city streets in the coming days with gold and silver markers on a chosen surface to create his artwork that alludes both to the gold mining history of the city and its bright lights. This mural is not just a regular city plan, however. Its blocks also spell out letters of the alphabet or ciphers that can be differently perceived depending on the viewer's orientation. This perceptual play in turn unsettles assumed fixities of the city plan and mapping in general.
Radebe writes in his artist's statement: "The city plan, in its ambiguous form and sense, changes its meaning, its behaviour and ultimately nature. The conventions of writing, or the point of the alphabet, the purpose of transcribing, and indeed the purpose of reading, all get stretched to a new and unexpected end."
In this mural, everyone constructs their own reading or idea of a city and this reading starts with Radebe's own sense of place, "deciphering the graffiti that embellishes the city, the street etiquette, the lingo, the sounds of foot traffic, the vehicles, the trucks, the taxis, the busses, the police sirens; the smell of food, the smell of urine, the smell of oil visible on the tarmac on the streets". He adds": "It's sunshine piercing through the buildings and its shadows... It's night-time, and all of it encapsulated in a line to facilitate marking my presence as a part of the city."
This mural intervention links in concept and aesthetic to Radebe's inaugural solo exhibition, 'A Walk in the City', held last month at the National School of the Arts gallery in the round. See the project website for more: http://walkinthecity.withtank.com
|'Alphabet Soup II' (2014), marking pen on drawing chart paper: Sandile Radebe|