In 1974, Dollar Brand (now Abdullah Ibrahim) released the song Mannenberg – Is Where It’s Happening in reaction to forced removals. It became an unofficial anthem for the anti-apartheid struggle, demonstrating how artistic response may reveal the power of place in times of crisis. 21 years into South Africa’s democracy the spatial legacy of apartheid remains. The art sector is part of this landscape, and is still primarily anchored in the affluent City Bowl.
Considering recent controversies around public sculptures on the Sea Point promenade and Signal Hill, and the removal of the memorial of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT), it is timely to re-think the relationship between public art and place in Cape Town. Producers still tend to be well-resourced and networked artists from the academy. In addition, representations of Cape Town tend to fluctuate between tourist-friendly renditions of the City Bowl and Table Mountain on the one hand and gang-ridden and destitute images of the Cape Flats on the other. Neither extreme provides an adequate account of the more nuanced realities of Cape Town.
Public Art and the Power of Place, initiated by the African Centre for Cities at UCT, with support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund seeks to support six public art engagements that explore the significance of place outside of the City Bowl in Cape Town’s townships in 2015. The African Centre for Cities is looking for proposals for public art projects that:
Have been developed by township-based artists (can be original work or developments of existing projects);
Offer new understandings or perspectives of urban realities of Cape Town’s townships through creative means;
Have a public dimension: engage public spaces; include people; concern public interest; or face the public in a meaningful way.
Who can apply? Individual or groups of artists from, or working in, Cape Town’s townships (collaborations between artists and organisations are strongly recommended) // Artists working in any temporary or permanent public art medium or combination thereof (e.g. visual arts, performance, graffiti, music, poetry, theatre, etc)
Call for proposals: Artists will need to submit a short concept document and budget for R50 000, and will be expected to develop, implement and administer the projects, as well as document the process for a catalogue and public presentation of the projects // Proposals can be submitted via email to email@example.com or posted or hand delivered to the African Centre for Cities at UCT // Proposals to be submitted by 4pm Friday 10 July.