Think!Fest takes on issues around the ownership of urban public space in a series of fascinating talks this year, with performance and visual artists taking the lead:

Privatisation of shared space is the new normal in South Africa. Everytime you’re in ‘public’, you’re probably stepping on ground owned, managed and policed by a private entity, or one doing a public entity’s job for it. This affects and constrains life, art and work, particularly for millions of people in urban areas.

Redefining urban public spaces – A debate

Visual and performance artists, graffiti artists, city planners and urban warriors get together for a scintillating debate on urban public spaces in modern South Africa. Catch Cale Waddacor, Ian Ewok Robinson, representatives from Tokolos Stencils and Ism-Skism, performance and visual artists as they discuss the repurposing of urban public spaces.

 The role of urban art on the streets today: Cale Waddacor

Waddacor, photographer and graffiti artist, talks about the urban spaces he encountered in researching and producing his book Graffiti South Africa and gives us some insight into his thoughts on graffiti, its history, its purpose and its place. During the Festival, Waddacor will be creating murals in Grahamstown with local artists – watch out for his handiwork around the city.

My Mind is a Public Space – Iain Ewok Robinson

Iain Robinson, better known as EWOK, is a well-known Durban- based hip-hop and spoken word activist, who has effectively used these as well as other art forms to galvanise people on a wide range of issues. He uses aerosol artwork and graffiti-styled murals to draw attention to a range of issues, usually working through recognised civil society organisations, painting around their concerns and actions.

Robinson is also presenting YOBO: You are Only Born Once as part of this year’s Main programme, a spoken word audio-visual theatre experience using live video projection. Created by Robinson and Karen Logan.

Robinson directs Logan and Kasia Vosloo in Dear Breeder, “a mad-cap two-woman show that is inspired by the performers’ first-hand experience of being parents themselves”.

Woza Sisi – An exhibition by Dahlia Maubane

Woza Sisi – loosely translated as “Come sister” – is a photo series exploring how women street hairstylists negotiate, navigate and shape complex demarcated trading zones. It looks into ways in which the women position themselves and how they use and negotiate urban spaces. Woza Sisi aims to uncover a group of women street hairstylists’ urban experience and explore their relationship with the city of Johannesburg and the economy. Dahlia Maubane is a photographer and multimedia designer affiliated with The Market Photo Workshop, a division of The Market Theatre Foundation (Johannesburg).

  • Saturday 11 July, 10am. Presented by Rhodes University’s Auetsa Conference
  • Book here
  • The exhibition Woza Sisi will be on display throughout the Festival upstairs in the Eden Grove complex.

Interested in more Think!Fest events? See here.