The Maboneng Township Arts Experience is a public arts festival aimed at turning family homes in townships into art galleries.
‘A place of lights’
Due to the Apartheid legacy of South Africa, townships are sometimes associated with a dark place. A place of poverty and destitution. But the Mobeneng Township Arts Experience is giving people a unique view of the creative exuberance and thriving entrepreneurship that is born and cultivated in townships across South Africa.
Moboneng is a SeSotho word for ‘a place of light’, a name given to the Alexandra Township in Johannesburg by the community after calling it the ‘Dark City’ previously due to the lack of electricity. It is here in the ‘place of light’ that the Maboneng Township Arts Experience was conceived and have thrived over the last couple of years.
Turning family homes into art galleries
The Maboneng Township Arts Experience is a public arts intervention that works with homeowners from different townships around South Africa to transform their residences into art galleries. Together with gallery-home owners, the Experience creates festivals and permanent art homes called TAGs (Township Art Galleries) across South Africa. Currently two TAGS exist in the Alexandra Township and another in the Langa Township.
The Maboneng Township Arts Experience involves design both as a program and as the physical transformation of gallery homes; it also spills out onto streets, creating opportunities for rethinking the design of public space. The launch of The Langa TAG (Township Art Gallery) in 2013 was carried out in partnership with Open Streets (project #WDC207), integrating public and private space.
Ownership of the galleries and the festivals lies with the artists and the homeowners; and with its open agenda, the festival can explore ways in which public art can transform urban space and social interaction.