Re-imaginers Andrew Whispa and Wesley Pepper state that: art has the strength to make reality say what it would not have been able to say by itself or what it might have left unsaid. The Open City Project is a street art project that deals with direct democracy and re-imagining public space. Our work covers social themes that affect the average South African, creating a dialogue between the viewer and the art.
The #NotACrime Campaign and the awareness its works to raise on the plight of the Baha'is in Iran is the perfect extension of the project. Our concept is inspired by Johannesburg street vendors/traders and the public art scene. Johannesburg, the New York of Africa, is a wealthy city with most of its wealth and influence located in specific areas. The street vendors are aware of this and they strategically place themselves at road intersections and street corners to maximize their influence.
These vendors have become part of the city of Jo'burg's culture, people like window washers, mimes and vendors are seen as a both a nuisance and convenience. In other words you can't ignore them and they are going nowhere.
In contemporary South Africa we are bombarded with so many social injustices and rhetoric that we seem to only pay attention to our own issues rather than the rest of the world. Our attention spans are minimal and we only pay attention to global issues if it's blasted all over the mainstream media.
It's with this mindset that we drew a line across the street vendors and mainstream Johannesburg culture. The first stage of our campaign was to place ourselves at a busy road intersection at the epicenter of the media and film hub in Johannesburg. We strategically stood there with artworks almost forcing the public to pay attention.
We followed up with a mural at a strategic intersection using the footage taken from the previous public art installation as reference. Lastly, we published zines that contains a mash of artwork and the campaigns hash tags in order to create a tangible legacy to the campaign.
Location: Jan Smuts Av and Empire Road, Parktown