South Africa,Social Sculpture for

Social Sculpture | Smile & Protea Gold

The project “Art & Culture make the world go round” was funded in 2017 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via Engagement Global gGmbH and combines two crews: HipHop Education South Africa and EachOneTeachOne from Germany, who work together on SDGs 11 of Agenda 2030; making cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In Bremerhaven and Cape Town, events, workshops and debates were held concerning art and culture with people from local districts.

Social Sculpture | Smile

SMILE was created on the streets of Woodstock, a former industrial district of Cape Town that is currently undergoing gentrification. One morning, in a side street of Victoria Rd. we met with the ‘brothers and sisters’ from those streets. The contact to them was prepared in advance by a co-opted member of our crew. The idea for the social sculpture SMILE was simple and owed itself to the circumstances of the street. I designed directly in the public space, so we didn’t have tables or tools at our disposal, and could only work with our bare hands. As the laughter united us… SMILE was looking for what unites all people, regardless of origin, status or language.

How does one convey a laugh visually? This question was the premise of the project. I wanted to portray human laughter, put its spontaneity and contagiousness on paper, and so I looked for the appropriate means. The decision to work without further aids gave me the idea of using the immediate power of laughter as a brush.

By using conventional food colors as paint, because they are suitable for consumption, I was able to do this literally. So the evening before, I mixed a large number of different colors with water. The choice of paper was white bread paper bags, which turned out to be an ideal extension to food coloring due to their malleability, shape, and feel. Together with the ‘brothers and sisters’ the first stage of SMILE was created on the street: first the paper bags were blown up and formed into a balloon, then a small amount of the colored water was taken into the mouth by each of us to be forcefully blown onto the paper. The situation was so wonderfully hilarious for everyone involved that the laughter was clearly manifest on the paper itself.

After the colors had dried, I opened and smoothed the bread bags. Delicate colors and powerful patterns were revealed – the power of a manifested laugh through color and shape, as well as the direct connection to the person through their DNA. I decided to complement the patterns with graphics. Impressions taken during a trip through Khayelitsha – one of the largest townships in South Africa – were drawn onto the paper with black lines. Finally, I commented on the small everyday creations by incorporating pieces of high-quality 23-carat ducat gold leaf into them. A symbolic act that proposes a monetary value for the “worthless” materials and artificially elevates the pictures to a work of art.

Opening of “Smile” at the Greatmore Studios in Cape Town Woodstock, 2017

Afterwards an event organized by our project took place in the neighboring Greatmore Studios, a gallery for contemporary art, to which the “brothers and sisters” were also invited. Many people living on the streets are often not permitted to participate in public life, such as visiting galleries, cafés or shops. With the exhibition of SMILE, however, the hierarchical social power relations were questioned, since the “brothers and sisters’” art was being exhibited in a place to which they usually had no access. The social sculpture SMILE offered them the opportunity to appear as fully-fledged artists*.

Social Sculpture | Protea Gold

B.E.S.T. College in Cape Town is a non-profit organization that aims to provide  students who could not cope with the mainstream education systems, a second chance to create a professional future. Here they have access to vocational training or to classes and examinations at a regular school. The college offers education not rehabilitation. Here, too, existing contacts of HipHop Education South Africa provided the opportunity for EachOneTeachOne to offer workshops. Working with food colouring and bread paper proved to be very inspiring for me, especially for its easy facilitation of warm and friendly interactions between participants. Together with the poet Sipho Kotobason Ndebele I prepared a short workshop with the same technique but a new idea.

The King Protea is the coat of arms and national flower of South Africa. It is a highly venerated symbol there, so working with it proved to be very popular. The young participants sculpted a large protea from paper and applied the same technique using the food colouring. Originally Sipho had symbolically associated nine of the leaves of the king protea with the nine Cape Provinces of South Africa. He chose nine key-words for each of the leaves of the symbolised wildflower that would intrinsically represent each province. These words were to become the generalised focal points of the respective provinces, which encapsulate it or are particularly promoted. Since the students came from different Cape Provinces, their varying personal experiences and stories animated the leaves of the PROTEA GOLD.

Workshop at B.E.S.T. College in Kapstadt Woodstock, 2017

From South Africa to Germany

The second project phase took place in Bremerhaven in September. Hip Hop Education came from South Africa to Germany and continued to collaborate with EachOneTeachOne. A detailed press documentation of all projects, events, artists* and participants* can be found at Still today the crews are active in the further development of the project.


The Agenda2030 as the basis for cooperation

On 25 September 2015, at a special summit in New York, the member states of the United Nations adopted the Agenda2030 with the aim of improving the living conditions of all people globally, and at the same time, of preserving our planet’s natural ecosystems. The aim of the agenda is to make global development ecologically, economically and socially sustainable. This ambitious global transformation programme also specifically aims to give the future generations of all humanity the prospect of a dignified life. The weakest and most vulnerable must thereby be considered first, the motto being: “leave no one behind”.

The sustainable development goals are preceded by the ‘5Ps’ as the core the considerations: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. They are intended to serve as  fundamental guiding principles and range from the eradication of poverty and hunger to providing access to a high-quality level education, from reducing systemic inequality to promoting better governance and coherent climate protection. These goals are inextricably linked and interdependent as they form the basis for the international and sustainable development of our planet for the multitude of all its inhabitants.

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