[Grahamstown Festival 1998] From fairies to fireblowers - it's all been happening at the G.A.T venue in Queens Street. Amidst all this madness, two graffiti artists from Cape Town have been fashioning their own type of magic - quietly transforming the dingy warehouse walls into a coloured canvas of urban scenery. A raucous party on one wall is contrasted by a scene depicting temptation in various forms on another, while a few traditional "throw-up" pieces round off the decorations nicely.
According to Falco and Mak, graffiti is an artform which they have worked at long and hard for many hours a day over a period of years. Their influences range from initial inspiration from the States to current trends in Europe, as well as a solid dose of what they have experienced and seen in Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town (where they live). According to Falco, "writing on a wall has always been around - that's how much of history has been recorded". This statement hints at how they view their artform within the wider spectrum of Hip-Hop culture - they don't see graffiti as an isolated aspect that can be neglected and overlooked as it often is these days.
On the other hand, Mak and Falco don't seem to be too perturbed by the fact that they are being overlooked by many festival-goers. Give them a crate of cans and a couple of legal walls to be creative on, and they're more than happy. They don't even appear to be bothered by the fact that all their hard work will be painted over in a few months time when the warehouse returns to it's usual functioning. It seems to be more important to them that they get a chance to express themselves visually, and if some people appreciate it at the same time, then all the better. As for those who think graffiti amounts to little more than legalised vandalism, Mak says "everyone is a critic and we can't please them all, I don't like some abstract art, but I still respect them as artists".
The underlying philosophy to their work seems to be one of self-expression for the sake of the artform, not for commercial gain or fame. Graffiti has never really been recognised as an artform in South Africa, and unfortunately it looks as if it's time is yet to come. Personally I would recommend anyone with an open mind to take a stroll through the G.A.T. warehouse during the day and watch these inspiring artists in action. What they can achieve in a short period of time is phenomenal and well worth checking out.
Read on for the full interview which took place one morning in the musty G.A.T. warehouse venue where Falco and Mak were doing their artwork.
Pics by Toast
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