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Interview: Faith47

Setbacks in court, no funds and “rich conservatives in 4x4s” aside, artist Faith 47 is more determined than ever to do what she loves, whether that’s called graffiti, “mural art” or just drawing on stuff. Jordan Seiler spoke to her.

Do you ask permission from landlords before you paint a mural?
Mostly – depending where. But in the townships it really wouldn’t go down with out some communication with the community. The community power is pretty strong there, and especially where people are very poor it’s important to maintain a level of respect on all levels.

Are murals done for free?
Yip. The larger ones I need to source funding for [but] mostly I fund them myself. Its just paint and time really.

Why do you paint for free?
The best things in life are free. Money is a dirty, dirty thing. Of course we all need it, but essentially the artwork on the streets is free. In the philosophy that life is free, that communication should be free.

Its not work, its love. And you shouldn’t pay for that.

Doing things for free is working against the grain of the capitalist system that says everything has a financial value. Stocks. Land. Culture. People.

We’re questioning that, throwing it out the window – we’re saying everything has value and its not financial. We’re not for sale, not commodities. We’re people, with feelings and complexities, and thoughts and emotions that the IMF, the World Bank and advertising industries cannot have vested interests in. It’s idealistic, yes, but beautiful!

What is the community’s involvement in what you do?
Not much. It’s you who is painting. We might share a beer or two with the house owner or your mates, but mostly the communities are not very aware of the value of art and people tend to think you’re doing an advert. You have to really explain why anyone in their right mind would spend their time and energy on something that might not last and that they are not getting paid for.

How are the murals received by the community?
One mostly gets positive reactions, besides the rich conservative in his 4x4 who wants to criticise. The average man on the street is interested and engages with you. Of course it’s the youth who are influenced the most.

 
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