Q&A with Project Hoopoe

Project Hoopoe is the anonymous art collective behind some of the more controversial street art around campus. Over the last few months they have become part of Wits culture and have turn the east/west tunnel in to their own public gallery.

Project Hoopoe's logo. Photo: Sibongile Machika

Project Hoopoe’s logo. Photo: Sibongile Machika

When did you start doing the campus street art?

We are an anonymous artistic collective birthed in August 2015, the anniversary month of massacres such as Hiroshima, Marikana and the 2014 Gaza War.

 Why did you start doing this?

The primary reason of our creation is the extreme apathy and ignorance that pervades the tinder of revolution – the youth. The majority of privileged WITS students seem to be absorbed in the mundanity of their lives, with nary a care greater than which ledge they will occupy at lunch and whether they will dine at Zesty Lemonz or Olives and Plates that day.

“We are here to amplify the truth when all the lies are the same. We are here to incite revolution through art.”

There is too little anger among the elite -and those aspiring to join them- about the plight of people We make the excuse for the ignorant of “just not knowing” and we are optimistic that their being uninformed is one simply of circumstance and not intention. That is why the purpose of our art is to be so blaringly obvious and creatively in-your-face that “just not knowing” no longer becomes an excuse to inaction – the paradigm shifts to “just not caring.”

what do hope to achieve with the art?

Our aim is to eradicate the excuses of the uninformed on issues that should affect everyone by conveying messages through art and action. We are here to amplify the truth when all the lies are the same. We are here to incite revolution through art.

One of your first big pieces was #RemeberMarikana, what was the concept behind that?

The #RememberMarikana Rhino stickers that we stuck all over WITS campus – the purpose behind that concept was [to show] that unnatural attention is given to white rhino extinction in lieu of equal attention being given the massacre of black human miners at Marikana. The themes of a R10 note representing the object the miners died for as well as a rhino being replaced by Mambush captured what we wished to convey.

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In addition to the stickers around campus we stuck up short profiles in the West Campus Tunnel of the 37 miners that were killed at Marikana detailing their lives before the massacre, how they were shot and the sentiments of the families that they left behind as well. These were accompanied by the quote “African lives are cheap in Africa”. Being unaware is not a viable excuse anymore.

Working as a collective how you choose the subject/topic for your art works.

The themes behind our pieces range from commentary on current events to awareness being raised about deep-rooted historical injustices. Our aim is to eradicate the excuses of the uninformed on issues that should affect everyone by conveying messages through art and action.We are here to amplify the truth when all the lies are the same. We are here to incite revolution through art.

Why have you chosen Graffiti as your form of expression?

The poignant beauty of street art and graffiti is its impermanence – whereas other forms of art such as paintings and sculptures are created with the intention of lasting eons, the nature of street art is temporary. It’s the message that it engraves onto the audience that matters.

Our Suspended Evolution piece depicting Adam Habib turning away a Wits Student within the chain of evolution in the tunnel was removed within a day. The message of the piece, however, was distributed extremely widely over social media as well as physically on campus. Whilst our art may be here today and gone tomorrow, we are here to stay.

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Art speaks louder: Suspended Evolution by Project Hoopoe was removed only a few days after it appeared in the east /west tunnel at Wits.

First published by Wits Vuvuzela

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