Coming from a fine arts background, r1’s work ranges from sculpture to street art murals to installations; all usually found in public spaces. Originally from South Africa (and having recently returned) he has made England home for the last several years. Having lived in both places, his work has connections with various cultures.
We’ve chosen to focus on r1’s urban interventions. For these he works with found materials and transforms city spaces to create new visual alternatives. He says, “I am inspired by my immediate environment and like to raise questions by ‘intervening’ in it. A key aspect of my work is not only the intervention itself, but also the process of documenting the process of change and the dialogue that generates with my surroundings and people living in it. The location is critical…I explore the city, I see familiar places and objects we take for granted, so much that we don’t see them anymore. I like to play with familiarity and imagine different alternatives to the reality we see on a daily basis.”
Materials also play an important role in r1’s works. Decisions on what to use are made based on a specific material’s message in a specific context. For instance, he says, “I use barrier tape in many of my South African pieces. I find barrier tape illustrates a very relevant reality in South Africa, especially in relation to the visible and invisible boundaries that we experience in the city.”
Here, we asked r1 to explain or elaborate on a few of his interventions. For more visit r1r1r1.net.
In my work ‘City Cage’, I used red and white barrier tape and wrapped it around an electric tower – the cables travel above and through the city. In the picture, at the far back, you see Johannesburg city surrounded by suburban life and a church next to the piece. The concept of ‘danger’ represented by the barrier tape plays an interesting role in a city which is fenced-in by invisible barriers and confines.
The piece ‘Tube Vision’ uses coloured barrier tape assembled in a squared form. The square went through a series of transformations changing into a circle through various stages. The work plays with the notion of taping barrier tape over, across and within itself. The work exposes and opens new questions of possible ways of reading existing boundaries.
In ‘Disconnected’ I displayed electric wire in a set of unusual spaces within the street. The project tries to expose certain malfunctions we walk pass every day.
‘Color Wheel’ is a project where I collected plastic bottle tops and reassembled them in a circular shape. The site was particualry selected with the purpose of ‘making visible’ a hidden street.
‘Bookshop’, is an unoccupied city shop that I renovated using magazine papers.
In ‘Under Cover’ I collected leaves from the street that had fallen naturally from trees and I used them to ‘hide’ a common object that I walked pass every day. By doing this piece, somehow the electric box became visible and relevant in a new way.
In ‘Lego Tin’ I collected and reassembled food tins in different city spaces such as a phonebox or a street sign.
In ‘Blue Blow’, I hung white and blue barrier tape inside a bus stop in Johannebsurg. I recently posted a short story specifically based on the making of this piece via good.is.
For ‘Hard seat/Soft seat’ I used recycled plastic bags in a city street seat located in front of a major supermarket chain. The idea was to add aesthetic vlaue to the seat, but was also a practical one (to make it softer to sit on!).
Discover more at r1r1r1.net.