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Kliptown & Soweto in South Africa: Falko, Rasty and Martha Cooper

Posted on April 19, 2014

Today we take you to Kliptown and Soweto in South Africa where we find artists Falko and Rasty collaborating and ethnographer/photographer Martha Cooper capturing the action of the painters, as well as the games and color of the streets.

“Kliptown seems to be stuck in time,” say Pybus of the historic town that retains much of it character but could use help with its infrastructure. “It is situated opposite a historical square and an upmarket hotel in Soweto in the city of Johannesburg. In the 1950’s Kliptown became famous as it is where the Freedom Charter was written, the document that formed the basis of the our current constitution. Now in 2014, it is a somewhat forgotten place across the tracks, filled with families trying to makes ends meet, 100 year old homes and crumbling businesses, but there are splashes of color, street games, youth centers and galleries emerging.”

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Falko at work. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

“Falko and Rasty have lost count of the walls they have painted together, and exchange very few words while they worked.  They both are technical masters of their styles, but don’t get closed off to their environment while painting, always finding a way to befriend the curious passerbys who stop to look,” says Pybus.

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Falko and Rasty collaboration. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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Martha Cooper on the foreground with Falko and Rasty on the background. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

“I witnessed Martha engage with people with so much respect while she searched for the similarities between Sowebo, in Baltimore – her hometown, and Soweto for her latest project Soweto/Sowebo. She shared some of the work she has captured thus far with me while I was visiting her in New York a few weeks ago. It was calming and honest, sensitive and humorous, and revealed that these two places that are worlds apart that are perceived to be so different, are more similar than one realizes – and her anthropological eye is trained to capture the common threads of humanity that intwine us,” Pybus tells us.

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Falko (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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Kliptown, Soweto. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

“On my last day in Soweto as the sun set, the trains started to fill up, so much so that people start riding the front of the cars. South Africa has developed so much in the last 20 years, but while standing in Kliptown one would be forgiven for thinking not much in the way of improvement has been done since its first brick was laid,” says Rowan.

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Someone playing in front of a piece by Lady Aiko (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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A boy walks on the streets of Kliptown wearing a Madiba memorial shirt. The recently passed Nelson Mandela was present here in 1955 at the Kliptown Congress of the People “where the Freedom Charter was adopted as the document which outlined the aims and principles of the anti-Apartheid struggle coalition formed by the Freedom Charter’s authors and signatories.” (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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Two “sunny-side up” from Falko (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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Portrait of Falko covering his face. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

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Neighbors enjoying a popular board game called LUDO. (photo © Rowan Pybus @makhulu_)

As part of a 10 day Social Innovator workshop, a group of artists were invited to Soweto including photographer Martha Cooper(USA), artists Falko (RSA), Rasty(RSA) and Mundano (Brazil).

Thank you to Rowan Pybus @makhulu_ for sharing his images and words  with BSA readers.

 

 

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