Images supplied by the artists

'Wet Paint' is a Social Experiment Encouraging Social Distancing

'Wet Paint' is a Social Experiment Encouraging Social Distancing

South African artists Curious Lauren and Baba Tjeko are using 'wet paint' to create beautiful artworks and encourage social distancing amid COVID-19. It's a social experiment for the ages.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completed upended the world and the way in which we do things. Normality as we once knew it has gone and admittedly may not return in the immediate future. We've had to adapt to a new way of doing things in order to not only protect ourselves but others around us, especially those who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

That said, South Africa continues to have increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases with the most recent figures showing that the country had clocked at least 10 000 cases in a single day—the highest yet in what is clearly a second wave. While President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised, in another national address, the need to continue wearing masks, avoid large gatherings and super-spreader events as well as maintaining social distancing, very little seems to be changing. This is where South African artists Lauren Mitchell a.ka. Curious Lauren and Baba Tjeko step in. The duo, in partnership with Belgian alcohol beverage Stella Artois, recently came up with a social experiment titled Wet Paint to encourage social distancing among South Africans. The results have not only been aesthetically exquisite, but effective too.

READ: Spotlight: Sinenhlanhla '99perspective' Chauke Creates Scenic Illustrations of Black People In Safe Spaces

The idea behind Wet Paint is having a unique art installation in public that encourages social distancing but not anti-social behaviour—that's the key here. Eight locally-made Pedersen & Lennard benches, which have since been donated to the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, were placed in and around Johannesburg in open public spaces. Artworks were painted onto the benches by the two artists. The catch, however, was in the "wet paint" sign that was placed above each bench to indicate to anyone wanting to take a seat to be cautious and thus distance themselves from anyone else potentially joining them. In reality, the artworks had completely dried down already.

Curious Lauren and Baba Tjeko, each with distinct artistic styles, came together through King James, the agency responsible for the campaign for Stella Artois, according to Baba Tjeko. The artist is known for portraying African ideas and perspectives through his Litema artwork, a form of Basotho mural art composed of decorative geometric patterns. Curious Lauren, on the other hand, contrasts serious messages with a bright, bold and inviting execution style that remains accessible in spite of the juxtaposition. She comments on her collaboration with Baba Tjeko saying, "We both pride ourselves on doing creative work for good; it was an otherwise unlikely pairing that lead to some extraordinary work together." She goes on to add, "We both use storytelling as a method of expression and this project was no different."

Below are just some of the stunning artworks created by the two artists for the social experiment.

Curious Lauren & Baba Tjeko - OkayAfrica'Wet Paint' is a Social Experiment Encouraging Social Distancing Images supplied by the artists.

Curious Lauren & Baba Tjeko - OkayAfrica

'Wet Paint' is a Social Experiment Encouraging Social Distancing Images supplied by the artists.

'Wet Paint' is a Social Experiment Encouraging Social DistancingImages supplied by the artists.

Now, while the social experiment also allowed people to become social in addition to engaging with the art. And while this may sound contradictory, it's important to emphasise that social distancing is not meant to make us recluses who no longer interact with another. It's meant to allow us to still do so but safely. Babe Tjeko says, "I think there's a need to emphasise the great challenge of people not practising social distancing in South Africa and the campaign was very intentional in tackling that." He goes to add that, "The secondary intention was for people to experience art in public spaces that are less intimidating like galleries and that was also achieved."

What Wet Paint shows, and quite well at that, is how art continues to be used as a tool for societal change. Sure you can tell people to social distance but they may not always listen as has been the case in South Africa. Conversely, you can use creative ways to encourage social distancing without people even realising it. To this effect, Curious Lauren says, "Art can bring about change in human behaviour and if you ever needed proof, well, we have it."

Images supplied by the artists.

Images supplied by the artists.

Images supplied by the artists.

While Wet Paint focused on the Johannesburg area, there is great potential for this social experiment to be rolled out nationally, particularly in areas where COVID-19 preventive measures are needed the most. Baba Tjeko is of the opinion that "parts of the country, such as our townships, can really benefit from what the project aims to achieve because public art is still unpopular in those spaces." He goes on to add that, "Creative concepts can be developed to provide solutions in other spaces such as queues and restaurants."

Curious Lauren echos his sentiments saying, "I really do think there are places and provinces (won't mention any names) and even different countries that could really use this type of creative intervention." She concludes by adding, "People are reluctant to [adhere] to stickers on floors in queues and badly-designed signs on the walls. No one will take their chances with wet paint and well, we'll have to try it in new places to prove it."

But what happened when people inevitably discovered that the wet paint was in fact dry you may be asking? Well, they realised the true intention behind the social experiment and took social distancing a lot more seriously—a true win-win.

Watch how the Wet Paint social experiment came about in the short video below:

Stella Artois Wet Paintwww.youtube.com


Listen to a Fela Kuti Tribute Album Featuring D'Angelo, Questlove, Nile Rodgers​ & More

2002's Red Hot + Riot albumis available on streaming platforms for the first time.

Red Hot has made the their Fela Kutitribute album Red Hot + Riot available for the first time on all streaming platforms to mark its 20th anniversary.

Red Hot + Riot features notable contributions from an all-star guest ensemble that includes D’Angelo, Questlove, Femi Kuti, Talib Kweli, Sade, Tony Allen, Macy Gray, Nile Rodgers, Jorge Ben Jor, Baba Maal, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dead Prez, Kelis, Roy Hargrove, Archie Shepp, and many others.

The updated 20th anniversary version includes bonus material including a remastered version of the entire project. The project also includes a cover of “Sorrow Tears & Blood” by Bilal, an acoustic version of “Trouble Sleep” with Baba Maal accompanied by the legendary kora player Kaouding Cissoko and an extended version of Sade’s “By Your Side” by Stuart Matthewman.

The original album had to be heavily edited to fit the time limit of a physical CD. This new version includes a vast amount of bonus material that includes an extended versions of many tracks, including early mixes, acapellas, instrumentals and more.

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News Brief
Photo by Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images via Getty Images

South Africa Shocked After DJ Sumbody's Fatal Shooting

The popular Amapiano pioneer, DJ Sumbody, was tragically killed in Johannesburg.

News recently broke that the well known South African Amapiano music producer Oupa John Sefoka, popularly known as DJ Sumbody passed awaythis past Sunday, November 20th.

The family reported that specific details of DJ Sumbody's passing could not be released because the issue was a part of a larger, ongoing investigation.

"Artist and musician DJ Sumbody has died. Details of his untimely death cannot be released but the artist allegedly ran into an unfortunate incident that led to his passing in the early hours of Sunday morning, November 20 2022," the family released in a statement, according to News24.

According to several unconfirmed reports, the renowned South African DJ was traveling on Woodmead road in Johannesburg when gunmen attacked his vehicle with a hail of bullets, which instantly killed him and one of his bodyguards.

He was en route to perform at an event in Woodmead for the All White Veuve Clicquot Picnic on Sunday. Apart from being an Amapiano pioneer, DJ Sumbody was a creative force in the South African entertainment industry. In the early hours of Sunday, Sumsounds Music, his management team, confirmed the news.

DJ Sumbody was a pioneer of the well-known viral Amapiano sound, a word that translates to "the pianos" in Zulu and is an eclectic genre that started in South Africa in 2012 and fuses house, jazz and lounge music for a unique sonic experience.

During the pandermic, OkayAfrica featured him in the pieceDJ Sumbody Is Ensuring Amapiano Stays Alive During Times of Coronavirus and Social Distancing.

Social media users went online to share their shock about the unfortunate event.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Travel Diary: The Warmth & Beauty of Senegal is Unparalleled

In OkayAfrica's latest Travel Diary, Nigerian photographer and storyteller Sope Adelaja heads to Senegal to learn what it's like to embrace the "Teraanga" lifestyle.

After about 10 hours of flying and stopovers I landed in the city of Dakar, Senegal at about 11pm. I approached immigration to have my passport stamped and then proceeded to get my luggage. I immediately noticed that almost everyone spoke French and very few people understood English. I understand little French, so I knew then that it was going to be a struggle. With the help of Google Translate, I was able to then negotiate and hire a cab to drop me off at my residence for the night.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

The language barrier was not as much of as an obstacle as I thought it would be. This largely had to do with the generosity and warmness shown by the community during my visit.

Senegal is known as the “ Land of Teraanga." Teraanga, which is a Wolof word, is often defined as meaning “ hospitality." But that is a very loose way of translating it. It's so much more complex than that. It is a process of discovery and expression. It is a way of Life. Teraanga is aimed at showcasing a narrative of hospitality and beauty that exists across different cultures.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Unity over adversity is a running theme of Saint-Louis, a town located on an island at the mouth of the Senegal river. It is an outstanding example of a colonial city by its natural setting and colonial architecture which gives it a distinctive appearance and identity. (These features are why the island is on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list.)

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Saint-Louis is a city that will charm you. Beyond tourism, this community has come to embody its resourceful spirits. A big part of the way of life is fishing. It is the main occupation of people living in Saint-Louis, also known to the locals as Ndar.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

When shooting in Africa, it’s easy to lean on visual crutches — like ornate jewelry or bright, striking clothing. But that’s only skimming the visual surface of the community of people. Digging deeper requires an extended stay, as well as collaborating with locals who have grown up in the area.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

In the course of digging deeper, i discovered Ndar had a lot more to offer beyond beautiful aesthetics, very rich culture, and history it holds strong remains of past colonial times.

Next up was Gorée Island and the destination is an exceptional testimony to one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity: slave trade. Even with its complicated history, Over the years, Gorée Island has become a well known destination, with figures like Nelson Mandela and even Unisted States President Barack Obama and his family visiting the island.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Storytelling is so powerful. And as a photographer, it's my intent to show the warmth, beauty, and hospitality of Africa across different regions. I strongly believe we as people of Africa have a responsibility to further shape the narrative of Africa’s unique culture and people.

See more photos from Senegal below.

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo Credit: Sope Adelaja

Photo via Mavin Records

The 9 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Mavin Records, Asake, Stormzy x Amaarae x Black Sherif, Fally Ipupa, Pheelz x French Montana, and more.

Every Friday, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column, Songs You Need to Hear. Here's our round-up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks.

If you like these music lists, you can also check out our Best Songs of the Month columns following Nigerian, Ghanaian, East African and South African music.

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