August 9 2011
Describing South African artist Faith47’s work is interlocked with describing the places where she grinds her talent, the unpretentious and full of immense brute force streets of Cape Town. She echoes our fervent passion and vision for street art, so naturally we choose to put her in the limelight this month. Bewildering to us and perhaps even to Ginkgo Agency and 21 Icons Global Project, initiators of the first of our three picks, she comes across as soft spoken despite her art being so vocal and poignantly in your face. The other two choices, directed by Brian Little for Laura Gamse’s The Creators, focus on the contextual and spontaneous ideas behind her Freedom Charter series, the reuse of significant political slogans in deprived urban areas.
Like 21Icon, who are all about celebrating the creative shapers of the 21st century, we too want to present Faith47 in full splendor as the self-taught and laidback painter and street artist that she is, with a truly political and metaphorical voice.
To say that Faith47 has gone international is an understatement, with exhibits worldwide. Last year alone, 2010, her work was displayed in places like Sao Paolo, China, London, Berlin and LA. She’s even got a Swedish connection, having exhibited at Subglob in Örebro back in 2005. Her name and reach thru various projects is global, her art however is local, and it’s her way of combining public space and art that we wish to feature here. Her graffiti style murals in forgotten places, alleys and rundown buildings, for the most part in Cape Town, seem to be about mending what’s broken, restoring a sense of value, as well as capturing the ephemeral flickering of meaning in art. Of course it’s South Africa, its present-day problems and hopes, which inspires her, and hopefully her art inspires others in return. Her website, faith47.com, will stir anyone’s imagination, guaranteed.
In the interview (camera/editor: Richard Finn Gregory, also Damon Hyland and Leon Visser; music by Lagos Disco Machine) we see proof of Faith47’s talent as studio artist, but also her idea of street art as something that engages people who live and walk on them strikes a chord, how meeting people is part of her art. It’s a way for life to seep right into the paint and that certainly gives cred to street art as a socially vital expression. All this is beautifully exemplified by Bryan Little’s short films showing Faith47 at work during her activist-like Freedom Charter series (featuring Keya Murphy, music: Soundtracks for Salvation by Jacob Israel). She deals with the crude reality of her country and the early facets of apartheid history by texting the democratic and non-racial mottos from the historical South African Congress Alliance document, with its phrase The People Shall Govern setting the tone, onto public surfaces. Many by passers pause for reflection, rightly so, and this is no doubt a great history lesson and social commentary all in one full of courage and positive faith in todays’ South Africa.
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