Joburg Art City '16

A project led by Kevin Krapf, with support from Urban Ocean.

Rendering of Kevin Krapf's installation, #JoburgArtCity16

Rendering of Kevin Krapf's installation, #JoburgArtCity16

In 2002, an unprecedented urban art project appeared on the walls of buildings around Johannesburg. Some 35 gargantuan works by local artists had been flighted, signaling a new era for arts in the city, and a prime example of how arts could interface with the public. That was the beginning of "Joburg Art City," a competition meant to take place every two years. The young telecommunications company Cell C (launched in 2001), which sponsored the project, received the Global Idea Award from MEC media monitoring group in New York City for their support, and a limited iteration followed in June 2010 when the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund placed 19 works by Mary Sibande around town and remained through January 2011.

Arriving to Johannesburg in 2014, American artist Kevin Krapf, saw a few remaining posters from the 2002 project on buildings around the city. Krapf’s own MFA from the University of Wisconsin was in Social Practice (participatory art), so the more Krapf worked in Johannesburg, the more his fascination with the legacy of public art in the city became apparent. In September 2015, the Museum of African Design hosted Krapf’s installation cum residency, “Night for Day and Day for Night and…” an exhibition/performance that immersed him in the culture of Maboneng and inspired the creation of paintings and installations on site in MOAD. He identified Joburg Art City as his next work. Krapf cites nostalgia for a time when public art in post-apartheid Johannesburg began to flourish. He missed out on that period; therefore, he wants to pay tribute and to participate in the city's thriving culture today.

With permission from Urban Ocean, the development company that owns the property at the corner of Rissik St and Fox St, Krapf will flight his 19m tall hand-painted poster on September 2, 2016. The site was one of the original locations used in the Joburg Art City 2002 project, and the Robin Rhodes image that was there remained into 2015. Titled #JoburgArtCity2016, Krapf’s use of the same formatting and branding language engages the city and passersby in their own nostalgia and their current optimism. The DIY aesthetic of the painted poster pays tribute to the hard working, entrepreneurial spirit of the citizens of Joburg then and today.

Photo of the work in progress.

Photo of the work in progress.

During the process of learning more about the 2002 Joburg Art City initiative, Kevin Krapf and Aaron Kohn, the Director of the Museum of African Design re-engaged with a number of arts and culture departments in the city. “One hope is to provoke an interest in more public-private arts related projects in Johannesburg,” stated Kohn. The Museum of African Design is interested in bringing museum experiences to more people, and after the 2013 exhibit, “Native Nostalgia” (based on the book by Jacob Dlamini) is interested in different types of reminiscence.

References to the original Johannesburg Art City Competition and Program:

1.     City of Joburg – Sophie takes over inner city (2010):

2.     Dale Yudelman – Art in the City:

3. – Cell C wins international art award (2003):

4.     Artslink – Joburg Art City (2002):

5.     Artthrob—Transforming the urban view (2002):

6.     ITWeb—Giant artworks transform the face of Jozi (2002):