Monday, October 19, 2015 - 07:27

Over the weekend members of The Heritage Portal team took a stroll through the Johannesburg CBD and paused outside some of the heritage buildings that were painted pink between June and August 2014. The campaign, run by a team of foreign and local artists, aimed to highlight the neglect of inner city buildings in the context of an affordable housing crisis and in doing so spark discussion among the citizens of Johannesburg. At the time The Heritage Portal published a critique of the campaign, compiled by Herbert Prins of the Egoli Heritage Foundation, andtracked the vibrant exchange between Prins and the team from Urban Joburg (Urban Joburg had expressed support for the artists).

Six months on we thought it would be interesting to publish a a series of questions that have emerged from the saga. The questions range from very specific ones about the campaign to broader ones about the state of heritage resources management in the inner city (and beyond).

Originally published in February 2014

 

Specific questions about the campaign

1) Is the pink paint permanent?

Notes: In the immediate aftermath of the campaign many people thought that the artists had used a special paint formula that would wash off easily. Heritage groups gave their opinion that the paint would be very difficult and expensive to remove. The latter appears to be the more accurate version.

 

2) Have the buildings been cleaned?

Notes: We regularly visit the city and have seen no evidence of any of the buildings being cleaned (Our most recent visit was to Shakespeare House and Clegg House on 22 February 2015).

 

3) Who is responsible for cleaning the buildings?

Notes: We would assume that those responsible for causing the damage would also be responsible for carrying the cost of cleaning the buildings. It appears as though the chances of this happening are small so we expect the buildings to stay pink for some time to come.

 

4) How much will it cost to clean the buildings?

Notes: We have not seen any concrete estimates. The general assumption is that it will be an expensive undertaking.

 

5) Are there any plans to clean the buildings (and pavements)?

Notes: We are not aware of any plans.

 

6) One of the artists was charged with malicious damage to property. What is the status of the case?

Notes: We do not have any information on the status of the case. We did hear rumours that the artist travelled back to America shortly after the campaign and has not returned. At one point the artist expressed his intention to return and continue the campaign. This has not happened as far as we are aware.

 

7) Were any other artists involved in the campaign charged and prosecuted?

Notes: As far as we are aware no

 

8) Have the owners taken any action to restore their heritage properties as a result of the campaign?

Notes: We do not have any information indicating positive action will be taken.

 

9) Have those with the power to halt the neglect of buildings in the inner city taken any action as a result of the campaign?

Notes: As far as we are aware no. The problems facing the city are massive. Various stakeholders have been bringing the problems of neglected buildings to the attention of authorities for years.

 

10) Did the campaign spark a discussion of the issues?

Notes: There was definitely discussion at the time but this appeared to be limited to circles where the problems of the city are well known. As far as we are aware there was little engagement from those with the mandate to tackle the issues. Six months later (apart from this piece) there is very little talk of the campaign.

 

11) Did Urban Joburg accept the invitation from the Egoli Heritage Foundation to 'use their expertise to force those who have powers entrusted to them by legislation, to use these to halt the anarchistic state that prevails at present.'

Notes: As far as we are aware the Egoli Heritage Foundation did not get a response from the team from Urban Joburg

 

Some more general questions about heritage resources management in the City:

1) Will the various levels of government invest the required money to get the heritage resources management system working?

Notes: This is unlikely in the short to medium term

 

2) Will the provisions of the National Heritage Resources Act be monitored and enforced?

Notes: This is unlikely in the short to medium term. 

 

3) Will contraventions of the National Heritage Resources Act be investigated and prosecuted where sufficient evidence exists?

Notes: This is unlikely in the short to medium term

 

4) Linked to the above will local and provincial government continue to set a bad example and continue to ignore their statutory oligations?

Notes: This is likely in the short to medium term

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed by individuals and organisations are their own and do not in any way represent the views of The Heritage Portal.

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