The Soweto Art Residency has just finished hosting leading Japanese street artist Lady Aiko and legendary American street art photographer Martha Cooper. They showcased the work from their residency at The Kliptown Gallery last Saturday, 5 October 2013.
“Martha helped put graffiti on the map, ” says Frieze Films’ commercials director Malo 8, who founded the Diepkloof residency in 2012. Martha documented the New York street scene during the 70s and 80s, producing one of the first books on street art, Subway Art, which became known as The Graffiti Bible.
During her residency, Martha has been taking pictures for her new book, Soweto/Sowebo, which will contrast South Africa’s most famous township with Sowebo, a similar community in Baltimore.
The Telegraph recently called Lady Aiko “one of the world’s leading practitioners of street art” in their article on “women who are revolutionizing graffiti.” She’s worked with the likes of Banksy and Takashi Murakami.
Ntokozo Mabunda, the art residency hostess, says, “Usually Lady Aiko’s artworks are on huge walls, but in Soweto she’s been working on demolished houses and much smaller walls. The walkabout tour on Saturday included some history of the area and her stencil of Charlotte Maxeke, one of the first black women to graduate with a BSC, on the street where she lived.”
One of last year’s residents, Ayanda Mabulu, has been in the headlines recently after his painting commenting on President Jacob Zuma’s role in the Marikana massacre was banned and then put back on display at the recent FNB Joburg Art Fair.
“There’s so much potential in Soweto,” says Malo. “There is an economy that is sitting idle that can be tapped and arts can be a big part of that.”
As @SowetoArt’s Twitter bio says, “A great nation is built on art, literature and philosophy, not Hennessy.”