Absolut South Africa has successfully launched its artist residency programme, "The Residence by ABSOLUT", which sees multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge creatives working collaboratively and independently to bring about meaningful change to the Johannesburg CBD.
For two weeks this month, the artists will live together in a fully serviced apartment located in the trendy urban Maboneng Precinct, where they will immerse themselves in the environment in order to fully comprehend the challenges at hand. Visits from mentors will inspire them on a regular basis and, with the city as their canvas, they'll be tasked to come up with creative ideas and solutions for the environment around them. The entire process will be documented, and a blog will host artist profiles with intimate videos that not only introduce the creators but showcase ideas that inspire them, and the goals of their work. This platform will also allow the creatives to interact and engage with the Absolut community who they can draw inspiration from and engage with a greater creative collective online.
The search for transformative artists began in February, and from a pool of entries six have been selected to be involved in this revolutionary initiative.
BOGOSI SEKHUKHUNI is a mixed-media artist who grew up wanting to be white. Using digital platforms, performance art, architecture and sculpture as his chosen mediums, he explores the role of art in addressing the burdens of SA's past. He interrogates the complex and contradictory dilemmas of the "new" South Africa. Bogosi believes art has a major role to play in reimagining our identities and addressing the burdens of our broken past.
Musician, artist, curator and director, MJ TURPIN drifts between Cape Town, Joburg and the world creating works that explore themes including identity, geometry, diaspora, socio-politics, geography and violence. He is the founder of the Kalashnikov Gallery in Joburg where they've stopped asking what art is, and rather answered where it can be found.
Johannesburg based, but Gugulethu born and bred, multimedia artist BREEZE YOKO's whimsical yet thought-provoking artworks transform both spaces and minds. Informed by global street culture and the universal language of hip hop, he specialises in video ad graffiti and his work concerns pan-Africanism, culture and politics.
20-something IO MAKANDAL is a multi-disciplinary artist and co-founder of the Open Drawer Projects. Based in Joburg, her work is concerned with creating narratives through re-appropriating urban debris and found objects and how those narratives can be translated into sculptural paintings.
r1. is a street artist with a Fine Arts background. His work is placed in urban environments, where he plays with familiar spaces, raising questions and offering different alternatives. In his interventions he often works with found materials, transforming them and relocating them back into the city, as modified artistic contributions. His interventions are inspired by his immediate environment, and aim to revive places and objects that are taken for granted. All of his artworks deal with the notion of change in urban environments, and the documentation of this process.
Last but not least, Guerrilla gardener and co-founder of AMbush eCo-Art Collective, LINZI LEWIS (a.k.a. Liliana Transplanter) is a bright and young Joburg native with a Master's in sustainable tropical forestry and a passion for urban greening. Co-creative intervention is at the heart of what she does, reflecting the local social and environmental context wherever she works.
Transform Today is anchored in the insight that for the Millennial generation, the future is not a given, it's what you create. And Absolut globally is employing the talents of emerging artists to inspire them to create the future — their future and not someone else's version of it.
"What we are introducing in South Africa is an artist residency unlike any other, with participants originating from a variety of creative disciplines. We have selected a handful of cutting-edge artists and creatives who will undoubtedly bring the innovative spirit to do this initiative justice," explains Shirley Mabiletja, Brand Manager for Absolut. "We are excited about what type of 'Absolut' transformations this initiative will bring to the Jozi CBD. For us as a brand we love to champion contemporary art and creatives who have daring spirits and a dedication to continuously transform the possibilities of personal expression. It is through creativity and curiosity that we are able to bring about change, and ultimately 'Transform Today'."