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.
Every 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.
Tail lights. The creator, Ralph Ziman, is also known as Afrika47.
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.
Inside the Casspir Project
My favorite thing about the Casspir Project is that you can actually climb inside 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.