Mobile Access to Knowledge: Culture and Safety in Africa.

Documenting and assessing the impact of cultural events and public art on urban safety.

Artwork Oasis by Tracey Rose in New Bell, Douala. One example of Artworks in passageways.
By Photo by Sandrine Dole – doual’art, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24617302
How do cultural events and public art affect urban safety in African cities?

Summary

« Ça réveille » – it wakes you up. This is what a teacher said about the art work Oasis by Tracey Rose in New Bell, Douala, which you can see on the left.

The research team’s study is based on the analysis of innovative cultural events and public art installations (one of which is Oasis) produced in three African cities: Douala (Cameroon), Johannesburg (South Africa), and Luanda (Angola). They consider that cultural events and public art are not meant to produce safety: they are a space of experimentation with side effects, one of which is safety.

They use the term urban safety as referring to higher livability, civil cohabitation and social cohesion. Through field research, namely surveys, interviews and visual respresentations, they found that the impact public art can have on urban safety depends mainly on the type of artwork. They identified four types of artwork, namely proximity artworks, artworks in passageways, large-scale sculptures and monuments, and urban-scale artworks and cultural events. While large-scale sculptures and monuments may provoke negative feelings for a part of the population (as they can be associated with evictions and political statements by the government), proximity artworks often include negotiating the land with the inhabitants and trigger community-based and individual initiatives. The team states that artworks in passageways are particularly relevant, as they do not have a direct impact on urban safety, but are likely to establish a personal relationship with the viewer.

If you’re interested in the outcomes of the research project, check out the working paper here or the team’s blog here. The team has also been involved in the publishing of the book “Public Art in Africa” (available here), a photo book about Art and Urban Transformations in Douala. Chapters have also been published in the book “Urban Safety and Security”, published in 2015, available HERE

Keywords

  • Development
  • Visual arts
  • Access to information
  • Urban safety
  • Urban planning
  • Information visualisation

Disciplines

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • IT
  • Security
  • Sociology
  • Urban planning

Collaborations

NGOs, States or other Institutions

  • Doual’art, Douala, Cameroon
  • Lettera27 Foundation, Milan, Italy
  • Chimurenga/African Cities Reader, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Orange, Cameroon
  • SOSO – arte contemporânea, Luanda, Angola

Relevant Countries

Angola, Cameroon, South Africa

Status

This project, started in 2011, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

David Fornari 
Coordinator
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana

Marilyn Douala Bell
Principal Member
Doual’art

Emanuela Fanny Bonini Lessing
Principal Member
Università IUAV di Venezia

Serena Cangiano
Principal Member
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana

Ntone Edjabe
Principal Member
Kalakuta Trust

Ismail Farouk
Principal Member
University of Cape Town

Aude Guyot
Principal Member
Ecole nationale supérieure des Télécommunications

Edgar Pieterse
Associated Member
University of Cape Town

Isabella Rega
Associated Member
Università della Svizzera Italiana

Cecilia Liveriero Lavelli
Co-Coordinator
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana

Luca Morici
Principal Member
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana

Iolanda Pensa
Principal Member
lettera27 Foundation

Marta Pucciarelli
Principal Member
Università della Svizzera Italiana

Didier Schaub
Principal Member
Doual’art

Fabio Vanin
Principal Member
Latitude

Fernando Alvim
Associated Member
SOSO – arte contemporânea Trienal de Luanda

Lorenzo Cantoni
Associated Member
Università della Svizzera Italiana

Roberto Casati
Associated Member
Ecole normale supérieure

Simon Njami
Associated Member
Sindika Dokolo Foundation