Working with waste: arts, business and environmental awareness
'Waste at Work' is an initiative between Coeo Art Collective, BASA (Business and Art South Africa), artists and a number of businesses. It is managed by Jeanetta Blignaut (Ceoe), Liza Grobler (artist and project manager) and Mary Murphy (environmentalist). They describe their project as follows: 'Waste at Work combines social awareness, environmental concerns, cultural diversity and visual art in a single project that reflects the heterogeneous population of South Africa.' (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=20).
The project is intent on working with artists and businesses to raise awareness about how much paper is wasted in the daily grind of doing business. This is done through an audit of the paper usage of participating businesses. These businesses are then matched with artists and they commission a work from these artists. These works are then exhibited and catalogued. For a frightening insight into the need to conserve paper, read the environmental statement of the project: http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=17.
The artists are required to make specific use of the company's waste paper to produce, as they call it, 'an object of value' (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=76), as well as to work with a community either by presenting a creative workshop, or by overseeing the production of work by members from this community.
The exhibition will travel from Johannesburg (in September) to Cape Town (in November). Participating artists include Gordon Froud, Julia Clark, Lyndi Sales, Nandipha Mntambo, Pierre Fouche and Wayne Barker among others. Specific project proposals and images of works in progress by Johan Thom (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=122), Lien Botha (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=118) and Nomthunzi Mashalaba (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=121) can be viewed on the well thought through, clear and informative website.
Another area of particular interest with this exhibition, is the Craft Expo (http://coeo.co.za/waste/?page_id=18), which showcases the work of the communities that participated in this section of the project. According to the website, participants in the craft expo hail from all over the country (or, as they put it 'from Kommetjie to Limpopo'), and everyone was invited to make objects from waste paper. Members of the public can view the items on this page and order their own according to size, colour and the like.
This project is one of the few that intelligently combines the arenas of business and art - a sad rarity in our current South African contemporary art scene. What is more, the educational emphasis, both in terms of developing and promoting craft, as well as raising awareness about environmental issues, is a very useful element indeed.