Creating a social sculpture in Rosedale, Upington

I wrote a blog about social sculptures created by Rick Lowe inspired by Joseph Beuys some months back. This month I have had an opportunity to work with group of indigenous San youth from the San Language School in Upington, South Africa. We worked on social sculpture. First, we engaged the youth in drawing posters about their message to their communities. Their messages were strong: “Never look down on everyone, unless helping them up!”, “Alcohol destroy”, “Stop child abuse!”, “Stop child rape, they are leaders of tomorrow!” Than, as a group we walked together to set up the posters in Rosedale community.

Social sculpture works in two levels: the one of personal empowerment and expression and the other one making intervention on community level. In this case the posters were giving a tool for the San youth to have a voice and share it with the community. The act of intervention, walking to the community and putting the posters on was liberating, collaborative and forming togetherness in front of joint message: “Do good for yourself and our community.”

This experience was one of the best and the most empowering collaborative artistic interventions so far. It felt precious and valuable to work with this process and this group of youth. I’m happy that I’ll be able to continue this process and think about ways how to scale up the commitment and respect that the youth have for their community. Our next effort is to think about ways how to convey the message of the San to the local administration and officials.

This social sculpture was constructed as part of PARTY project with Hanna-Riina Vuontisjärvi and Essi Kuure. The use of posters was inspired by the Ministry of Truth and Typography.

By Satu Miettinen

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