I’ve changed my mind about sidewalks. Actually, I’ve never given them much thought. That’s until two artists from Stuttgart, Germany built a Citi Golf from cardboard boxes and took it for a walk ala Flintstones style.
Earlier this year, Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley did a residency at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg. Exploring the idea of security in suburbia, they started thinking about sidewalks – and how they’re gradually disappearing in suburbs, being taken up by over-the-top garden extensions and other structural attempts at privacy and security. Yet, sidewalks are public space. They should allow space for anyone (and their dog) to walk.
Susanne and Kaspar used mostly public transport during their stay, so they had a first-hand experience of Johannesburg’s sidewalks.
All of this lead to ‘white man walking’, a 2.5-hour journey in the cardboard car from where they stayed in Kensington through the CBD to the Goethe-Institut in Parkwood (the image with the small photies show their walk *). It touched on various aspects – from the differences between pavements in the city and the suburbs to thoughts around privacy and community. The car even became an interaction hub, as Kaspar calls it, with kids joining in the walk almost from the get go.
On their last Friday in South Africa, the Golf was brought out again for the last time in Parkwood. For some reason, walking alongside the cardboard car just made me so happy. We walked a bit, ‘parked’ the Golf and then had a picnic on a very nice patch of grass in front of someone’s home with the cardboard model’s radio blaring in the background (yes, it had a radio - woo-hoo!). The home owners weren’t told beforehand and they didn’t come out to complain. But it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s public space after all.
The Goethe-Institut always has stuff going on, so go check them out.
* Small images credited to Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley.