wrapwrap - a public intervention in Troyeville

wrapwrap is an installation work by Dean Hutton, inspired by public art projects to beautify the city of Johannesburg ahead of the soccer world cup.

The work has some leftover resources provided by Ms C Foil and AAW Art Project Management and with the help of strong volunteers, including several of the 10 people who live there, to transform a slum building in Troyeville.

The installation is wrapping the building in clingfoil, a transparent reflection on dereliction, neglect and poverty at a time “when not everything can and should be deodorised.” The fragile, taught plastic is a see-through reminder of the thin line that separates those with power and the ability to decorate, from those whose lives are are harsh as rubble.

Volunteers assisted the artist to wrap the building beautifully, move and shape rubble and find the artifacts of peoples life.

A day after planning and sending out a call for volunteers, we are informed that the City of Johannesburg will be demolishing the site - it’s an eyesore too close to Ellis Park Stadium, and not much of an advertisement for the FIFA World Cup happening on it’s doorstep. I decided to continue with the plan.

Day Two: The installation is starting to show signs of wear already, the wind has blown dust back onto the site and all the soccer balls have been taken. Interested in what value people have placed in them, as opposed to the other valuables we ‘excavated’. They were also the only objects we brought to the site, apart from the clingfilm and wooden poles. The residents are using the space. Seated on the ‘couches’ they trade stories and soak up the winter sun. We are all inspired, perhaps we can make a plan to remove the compacted trash sedimented behind the one wall? We speak about the impending demolition of the site. The residents are almost resigned to the fact but remain just this side of hopeful.

Day Three: The installation is chaos. It is fighting against the order imposed upon it. Tattered and bedraggled, it remakes itself. The wind is ripping it to shreds. Two poles are snapped, leaving jagged edges. I wrap them, blunting them and rebury the poles in bricks, shackling one to a rock in a mass of danger tape. It’s too cold and windy for the residents and only one comes out to greet me, curiously amused by my labour. Am I Sisyphus?

Week Two - There is some semblance that something used to be here, some order to the ruins, but everything we brought here is gone, the wood to firewood, the plastic to fuel. Slowly the structures are relaxing back to chaos. The resident’s are still using the brick benches to sun themselves. The site is less enclosed, more public.

Four Weeks later, On 22 July 2010, the site was demolished, the rubble carted away and the squatters evicted. All that was left was a blank slate.

photographs by Dean Hutton & Delwyn Verasamy.