The Casspir Project at the 2017 Turbine Art Fair

by | Jul 15, 2017 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre | 11 comments

Yesterday I went to the Turbine Art Fair in downtown Joburg and saw the Casspir Project: a massive armoured vehicle covered in more than a ton of colorful glass beads.

Beaded casspir at the Turbine Art FairKennedy Mwashusha, one of the artists who worked on the Casspir Project, with the exhibit at Turbine Hall in downtown Joburg.

I had seen pictures of the Casspir Project in advance but nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. It’s an awe-inspiring work.

Beads on CasspirEvery inch of the Casspir, including the lights and all the little pipes and various doo-dads, is covered in beads. I shot this photo while the vehicle was running (yep, it still runs) and the bead-coated hazard lights were blinking.

side of the casspir projectView from the side. Note the beaded AK-47s sticking out of the windows.

Casspir tail lightsTail lights. The creator, Ralph Ziman, is also known as Afrika47.

Casspir wheelCasspir wheel.

The Casspir, invented by the South African government in 1980, is a well known symbol of oppression. Although initially created to detonate mines in the South African Border War, Casspirs were also deployed into townships to quell anti-apartheid protests.

The Casspir Project began nearly a year ago and included a team of more than 60 bead artists. While I was there yesterday I chatted to Kennedy Mwashusha, one of the artists who worked on the project. As we talked, Kennedy and I suddenly realized we’d met previously; Kennedy sells his bead art at the corner of Bolton Road and Jan Smuts Avenue in Rosebank, which I wrote about nearly four years ago in my post about beaded rainbow giraffes. Several of the Bolton Road bead artists were recruited to work on the Casspir Project.

Rainbow giraffe artistsKennedy (third from left, in white hat) on Bolton Road in 2013. 

Kennedy at the Casspir ProjectKennedy yesterday in front of the Casspir. He still sells his work on Bolton Road and is now studying toward a university degree in psychology from UNISA.

Inside the Casspir Project

My favorite thing about the Casspir Project is that you can actually climb inside the Casspir.

Gail inside the CasspirMy friend Gail inside the Casspir.

Boy in the driver's seatA cute little boy in the driver’s seat.

Boas, Casspir artistBoaz, another of the bead artists, sits on the back steps of the Casspir.

The Turbine Art fair is open until 6:00 p.m. today (Saturday 15 July) and from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday 16 July). This is the only Johannesburg showing of the Casspir Project so check it out if you have time. Also the rest of the Turbine Art Fair is fantastic and really worth a visit. Ticket information is here.

Heather inside the CasspirThanks to Gail Wilson for taking a picture of me inside the Casspir.


    • 2summers

      Yes 🙂

  1. autumnashbough

    That is incredible. Those beads are so small I thought they were paint or cloth at first.

    • 2summers

      I know, me too. Also it’s weird that I accidentally wrote about these tiny beads two days in a row.

  2. Lani

    I can’t imagine how much work went into this!

    • 2summers

      I know, it’s insane. Such a great opportunity for all these artists, too.

  3. tenneymason

    Fascinating blog. Also– nice hat.

    • 2summers

      Haha, thanks Dad.

  4. tomatom

    I was lucky enough to stumble across the Casspir in The Company Gardens in Cape Town last year. It truly is amazing how they have taken suck a violent vehicle and symbol of oppression into a beautiful cheerful object. Sadly I don’t think the interior was complete and we didn’t get inside.

    • 2summers

      Oh cool! Yes I think it was only finished recently.

  5. MapleAndMarula

    I’m super bummed I missed this. I can’t believe they even decorated the inside! Now I want my bakkie to be beadicized (or whatever you call it). And my house. And my kids.


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