Soccer City

2009-12-29 13:02


If never-ending traffic jams and Dickensian detours caused by

feverish 2010 roadworks and construction have got you close to the edge, take


From Ellis Park in the east to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge in the west,

the city of Johannesburg has stealthily started installing public art works

intended to be part of the city’ s 2010 World Cup legacy.

“Public art is designed to give people an experience of place. The

art going up says that Johannesburg is a contemporary city. It helps to create a

memorable experience.

It also says our city and country have a forward-thinking

attitude to creativity and culture,” says Stephen Hobbs of The Trinity Sessions,

a company that has managed several public art projects for the

Development Agency.

Hobbs’s most liked work is an installation by William Kentridge

and Gerhard Marx on the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Called The Fire Walker, it was

inspired by the women who used to burn braziers at the end of the bridge.

“It’s not soccer-specific,” says Hobbs, “but Kentridge is our

biggest international brand in visual arts, and one that will be familiar to

many visitors to the World Cup.”

One piece that is sure to be seen by the bulk of visitors to

matches at Ellis Park is the 3.5-ton sculpture by Durban-based artist Doung

Jahangeer. Called Invented Mythologies, the sculpture stands on the precinct of

the international stadium.

“Doung Jahangeer took his inspiration from the fact that the source

of the only warm water source in Gauteng – the Jukskei River – is under

Coca-Cola Park stadium,” says Lesley Perkes of Art at Work, an art project

management company currently working on public art projects for the city.

Driving south on Sivewright Drive through Doornfontein, four

soccer-playing sculptures by Winston Luthuli form a guard of honour for

motorists passing.

The Hillbrow tower recently declared its commitment to 2010 with a

giant soccer ball around the shaft of the tower.

And motorists zooming up

Houghton Drive towards Hillbrow now encounter a soccer field constructed out of

traffic shevrons.

Sandton hosts some of the quirkiest and most ambitious pieces of

public art to be unveiled in the run-up to 2010. The annual light project titled

“Play” will stay up until after the 2010 World Cup.

The work of artist Usha Seejarim, the project consists of 34 light

installations that run along Maud Street in Sandton.

The work depicts

soccer-related themes such The Dribbler, two medics carrying a wounded player

off the field (and into the Netcare building), and a six-and-a-half-metre-high

giant soccer player standing on the corner of Maud and Rivonia roads.

“Some say he is called Sepp Blatter,” says Perkes, “but he only has

one ball and some people say Blatter has three.”

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