WINDHOEK – The Land Pavilion Project, an interactive series of five mini city art installations, was last week shut down by City management.
The project was conceptualised and crafted to run parallel with the Second National Land Conference by a group of students from the Namibian University of Science and Technology (Nust)’s Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning (DASP), the College of The Arts, including professional artists and architects. Project coordinator Martin Namupala says the idea of the Paper Pavilion Project was to not only discuss but to document public opinions on urban land, hoping for diversity of opinions and solutions on the land question. The latest weeklong series of strategic interventions in public spaces were scheduled to run from November 26-30 at the Soweto Market in Katutura, Windhoek. However, it only lasted for two days (26-27) due to misunderstandings with the City management. He adds that it was also aimed to visualise an overlooked perspective of land as public space using art installations.“The design of the project is conceptualised from the long and bureaucratic process involved in the acquiring of urban land, and the provision of affordable land in the City, says Namupala.
The event saw a structure containing a wall filled with collages of articles and topics of urban land matters, tied together with a red string. “This wall was to create an overview of the complexities involved in the urban land discussions. Gaps are left in the collage to allow for the public to engage with the provided information, in a progressive manner,” explains Namupala. The core idea of the installation was to allow for the public to engage the given topics to lessen the bureaucratic process involved, and how the existing policies can be implemented.
“The installation was supposed to last for a week, to allow for a wider audience to engage with the project, unfortunately the installation only lasted for two days,” Namupala notes. Adding, the permit issued from the City of Windhoek (CoW) was deemed invalid and the right procedures where allegedly not followed.
Therefore he says the group was instructed to take the project down immediately before the City of Windhoek confiscate the materials. “The group was not surprised by the actions of the City of Windhoek. The right procedures were followed, however, CoW has no clear policy on public arts installation. This resulted in a lot of confusion on who to grand permits and how the public space will be used,” stresses Namupala.
Namupala particularly believes the presumed lack of “proper paperwork” points to the core issue, which is the lack of policy in this regard with City management and both City police not knowing how to approach the matter and being torn between protecting public space as much as there is no policy on this. “The installation only became problematic on the second day, when words where written on portraits. These words caused a lot of curiosity in the minds of by passers. People stopped and questioned what the project was about, and showed general interest in urban land discussions,” he notes.
Namupala, however, maintains the installation will continue early next year, with specific focus on politics of space and the bureaucracy attached to the acquiring of land in the City, especially for young people.