Scattered. Pin-points positioned. X-marks-the-spot on the site of intervention. Latitudinal lines of social disparity. Captured and activated between continental shifts in a spaciotemporal moment of defiance.
[CROP] is an acronym for Creative Resistance & Open Processes. Established with an ideology centred around inclusivity and accessibility, the collective aims to make art free. The participating agents come from “diverse and multi-disciplinary backgrounds, we use street art to question societal issues, while paying homage to some of society’s most marginalized and often unseen individuals.” [CROP] operates at the powerful intersection between art and activism. CHUZKOS exists as a parallel collective and South American counterpart. Founded by Idelette Aucamp and Boris Mercado the collectives have been able to explore continental conversations between Columbia, Ecuador, South Africa, New Zealand as well as an upcoming activation in Peru. Through these interventions art is utilized as a vehicle for positive change in opposition to issues plaguing society.
The inaugural [CROP] project launched in Johannesburg last year. Sites of activation were peppered throughout the city and included Melville, Braamfontein, Maboneng, Parkhurst, Parkwood, Jeppestown and other parts of the CBD. “We initiated the project by hosting two collaborative workshops, inviting local photographers and creatives to be part of a core team that would co-create a concept for a public intervention on the streets of JHB, South Africa. During these creative labs, each member presented their portfolios, shared ideas and discussed issues related to the power of photography, design and collective efforts.” After selecting, editing and printing the images they were wheat-pasted at selected points across the cityscape.
“Creative expression is a powerful tool of resistance that cultivates a sense of unity, pride and empowerment. By connecting like-minded artists, creatives, and organisations for the artworks, we also encourage those involved to continue conversations and relationship-building in their communities, and to independently explore ongoing project potential.”
The latest iteration of [CROP]’s South African projects was Sililizwe Lase Khayamandi (We are the voices of Kayamandi) in July. This manifestation integrated a poetic element and was focused on the importance of collaboration within communities. It blended together poetry, photography, design, and urban art co-created by CHUZKOS and INZYNC Poetry and took the form of a poetry workshop & photo zine. The township adjacent to Stellenbosch translates to ‘sweet home’ in the Xhosa language. The open call invited photographers to submit images that depicted “social issues, promoted the critical visual exploration of the social environment, and captured our united resistance by focusing on local stories, landscapes, faces and emotions.”
The final installations included poems from local community members – creating conversation between image and text. “South Africa’s past has been devastating and profound, with many inequalities created and maintained by apartheid, still evident today… Past neglect, lack of investment, poor infrastructure, overpopulation, violence, poverty and isolation from urban centres are all challenges people living in townships face today. Art however, is a powerful tool of resistance, one that inspires hope, encourages unity and empowers people to fight for change.”
In Cali, Colombia during December 2016 CHUZKOS collaborated with Colectivo Telefono Roto (Cali) & Casa Fractal to create Cápsulas de Realidad (Reality Capsules). “The residency aimed to unearth realities of the housing crisis, we wanted to raise awareness about the social and environmental implications related to lack of housing, poor infrastructure, pollution in rural areas, public spaces being occupied by the homeless, relocation, and the fragmentation of society.” Images of these social realities were placed in middle class, trendy suburbs as a way to disrupt bourgeoisie denial. “The project was an act of independent cultural activism, highlighting the link between visual anthropology and urban intervention… We also interviewed Rafael Vergara Navarro, a well-known environmentalist and activist form Cartagena, who shared his opinion on the social and environmental impact the housing problem has on societies.”
The upcoming [CROP] Lima Intervention will take place on the 22nd of September in Peru. This iteration will celebrate local rural culture in Pamplona Alta on the periphery of the city – a community forgotten and ignored. “The core team is made up of 12 creatives, including photographers, designers, muralists, graffiti artists, collage artists, and musicians. There are two workshops being hosted where artists will collaborate using photography, graffiti, collage and embroidery on photos to create a single large piece of artwork to be used in an urban intervention. Throughout the process our musicians set the tone by playing music and inviting audiences to participate.” At the heart of all [CROP] projects is the desire to create activations that transform and engage spaces.
Core [CROP] Kayamandi team: Adrian van Wyk (InZync), Boris Mercado(CROP & CHUZKOS), Cale Waddacor (Dead Town), Gulshan Khan (CROP: Photographer), Idelette Aucamp (CROP & CHUZKOS), Lily Branon (Legacy Centre), Pieter Odendaal (InZync), Ryan Jarrett (CROP: Video), Salym Fayad (CROP: Photographer)
Photographers: Barry Christianson (@thesestreetsza), Matteo Placucci (@matteo_placucci), Kgomotso Kgopa (@seedaforika), Thina Olona Zibi (@thinazibi)
[CROP] Kayamandi Poets: Nthateng Machaea, Mxolisi Arthur Mbeleko, Sam Maricoh, Vusumzi Mokoena, Anele Sihlali