CommunityMy FDL

Tuesday Watercooler


Tonight’s music video is “Desiree” by Sean Rowe from the album Madman. 

This summer, many buildings in Johannesburg were mysteriously splashed with pink paint.

A paintbrush coated in pink paint

“Together, we dress fear in pink in hopes that she will smile a little and join us in reinventing much” – Beware of Colour

Now, a group of art activists called Beware of Colour has admitted to the deeds, a protest against the city’s abandoned and crumbling infrastucture. From the Guardian:

The striking colour trickled out of broken windows, over the dirty sills and down the sides of some of the city’s most precious – and most neglected – heritage high rises.

Bloggers asked who was behind the mysterious paint jobs that appeared from June to August, but it is only recently that the instigator of the project revealed himself and his purpose.

New York-based artist Yazmany Arboleda had arrived in the city for a different assignment at the beginning of summer, but was soon struck by the number of large buildings ‘with broken windows, totally dilapidated, filled with debris.’ Some areas of Johannesburg that were left to decay during spiralling crime rates in the 1990s have now undergone successful regeneration programmes, but others have not been so fortunate.

Arboleda contacted Johannesburg artists, who told him that some buildings had been derelict for years, while others are filled with hundreds of squatters, forced to pay rent to unofficial landlords who ‘hijack’ buildings that don’t belong to them. They often have no running water or electricity.

‘Every citizen is supposed to have a constitutional right to housing, and safety is a real issue downtown,’ Arboleda told the Guardian by phone from New York. ‘If the authorities were serious about fixing these problems, then wouldn’t programmes like Operation Clean Sweep start with these properties? They embody the injustices in the city.’

Around 30 South African artists joined Arboleda for the urban art project they dubbed Beware of Colour. It is intended to revive conversation about the well-documented dilapidation of the city’s centre and the lack of adequate housing for thousands of people living under the poverty line, which Arboleda believes contributes to ‘the climate of crime and fear’ on the streets. Though crime rates are reported to be falling, Johannesburg is still considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

The Beware of Colour collective’s tumblr offers more documentation of the artistic actions.

Bonus: The Unwritten Rules of New York City in comic form, via Distractify.

Housekeeping notes:

  • Please review our About Us page if you need a refresher on site rules, and
  • We encourage you to use our flag system — if you see an abusive comment, user or post, please flag it rather than replying. We review every flag and take the best action available to us.
  • If you have questions or concerns about Firedoglake-specific issues, please limit their discussion to Watercooler posts rather than starting new posts or making off-topic comments in others. But remember,
  • Firedoglake editors and staff are not allowed to comment on any moderation decisions.

The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and your thoughts.

Photo by Mini OzzY released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

Previous post

Late Night: Hound Dog

Next post

Late, Late Night FDL: California (There Is No End To Love)

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and