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Shaping urban areas through art

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Takondwa Mwendera
May22/ 2017

“Art should play an integral role in influencing urban areas but unfortunately there’s not enough funding to support artists or art institutions to be able to do that,”

Wits University’s School of Architecture and Planning, in collaboration with Institut Francais of South Africa (IFAS), hosted an event which was aimed at bringing awareness about “the integration of complex urban identities” and art earlier this week.

The Public Spaces and Art event consisted of a panel discussion that included a group of young students from the Eat My Dust cinema project, which uses the art of cinema in townships.

“My first professional film, which I did in 2016, was a story of Kliptown. The people of Kliptown had been promised housing for years and years so they’ve been fighting,” said Siphamndla Bongawana.

Bongawana had left studying law in pursuit of his filming career after realising the impact his film had on the lives of people living in his community.

“After my film was released, we went to show it to the government and went as well to show it in Kliptown and when the people in Kliptown saw it again after seven months, they started to protest again … and after that protest, two weeks after, the government started to build houses.”

One of the coordinators from the School of Architecture and Planning, Claire Benit-Gbaffou, said such talks are important for students to understand the relationship with their surroundings.

“A very interesting element in students’ mobilisation is their alliance with workers and the interest in workers issues,” said Benit-Gbaffou.

Curator Ashley Whitfield, one of the panellists, said the arts need better funding to assist development in cities like Johannesburg.

“Art should play an integral role in influencing urban areas but unfortunately there’s not enough funding to support artists or art institutions to be able to do that,” said Whitfield.

The event also brought together French scholars, the Centre for Urbanism and the Built Environment Studies (Cubes) and Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA & CP) over nine days under the overall event called Experimenting/Experiencing the city.

Watch the full video below.

 

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Takondwa Mwendera