Exploring mural art as a catalyst for indigent empowerment, urban revitalisation and a meaningful architecture : a proposed community art and assistance centre for the indigent in Durban, KZN.
Mseleku, Erasmus Siphelele.
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Art for centuries has been a medium or a means for humans to communicate their views of the world and how we see ourselves in it. It is significant in the development of a society through the narratives we gain from the experience of observing it. However, art which aims to be a subject of the people can often neglect to truly reflect this in the manner it represents itself, or rather in which spaces it represents itself. The notion of „art galleries‟ and „art museums‟ strips art from connecting to the masses, giving it a sense of prestige and an elitist status, not addressing the man on the street, who himself has many narratives that require expression. This can then misinterpret the role and significance art has within society. Nevertheless, street art has become the connection between the man on the street and society who move past it on their paths to their destination. Mural art within the street and urban environment therefore represents the paintings one would see within a gallery. Mural art is especially significant in South Africa‟s urban streetscape, where the streets are now the platforms for mass education and cultural memory of the many diverse unheard narratives of those who occupy our cities. “Murals play a pivotal and vastly underestimated role in South Africa’s process of reinventing itself and redefining its identity as a multi-cultural, peaceful, and democratic society”. (Marschall. 2002) The purpose of this research is to then take this further, it aims to explore how mural art can be investigated and utilised as a social mechanism to empower the indigent community of Durban, whilst simultaneously creating more vibrant urban and built environments. Three social theories are identified within the research which will be coherent in understanding the basis of the dissertation, they are; ‗perception‘, ‗empowerment‘ and ‗representation‘ theory. These key theories will be investigated to generate the relevant literature to review, which is a key component of the dissertation, furthermore this review will inform the relevant precedent and case studies that will be critically analysed. From these theories, a key architectural theory is identified to connect the literature and the architectural intervention that shall be proposed. This is ‗critical regionalism‘ and the understanding of this is pivotal in the research‟s aim to generate a meaningful architecture that is of the place and its people. This dissertation will create an understanding of the indigent community and the circumstances that have led to these individuals experiencing their hardships. This shall then investigate how mural art can be used to empower these individuals by giving them a „voice‟ and allowing them to positively contribute to the urban environment through this subject. The gathered information of this research document will then determine a relevant response and appropriate architecture for the design of a Community Art and Assistance Centre for the indigent in Durban, South Africa.
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