From Plastic Bags To Haute Couture, Designer Celebrates South African Heritage

A haute couture outfit made entirely from the plaid plastic bags one usually finds at dollar stores puts Zoolander’s “Derelicte” to shame.

Just when you thought the term “recycled clothing” had lost its cache, along comes a collaboration full of inspiration. Recently, designer and conceptual artist Jenny Lai of NOT Clothing, searching for something fresh to inform her newest work, made the pilgrimage to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she synced up with photographer and filmmaker Chris Saunders, whose fascinating documentation of South African subculture had caught her eye. This past September, the two unveiled their fused passions with an exhibit, “NOT x Chris Saunders,” at the WALLPLAY international space. The show brought together photography, video, fashion, and global culture in a colorful melange, equal parts street style documentation, art project, and reuse initiative. As Lai mentioned to Collectively this week, the inventive textiles used were the result of various shooting locations throughout the city and the creatives who inspired them. “The materials that we used were based on the collaborative artists,” said Lai. “Many of them do use what is available to them.” In this case, the surroundings were a busy Jo’burg neighborhood, a bottle recycling plant, and other unlikely spots, the group using found materials like chicken wire, brown paper bags, and floor sweepings from local barbershops to help create clothing and installations.

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Sledgehammer-Wielding Artist Turns Abandoned Buildings Into Beautiful Sculptures

Marjan Teeuwen’s punk-rock architecture transforms decay into epic installations.

In place of an easel and canvas, Dutch artist Marjan Teeuwen uses a jackhammer and saw to create visually stunning still-lifes. For her series Destroyed Houses, the vibrant, flame-haired 62-year-old sculptor/photographer and a team of assistants demolished several units within a post-war, derelict apartment building in Amsterdam, gathering the recycled materials to produce complex walk-in sculptures, meticulously stacked pastiches that resemble Cubist architecture or homages to 17th-century Dutch paintings. For her newest series, Archives, of which there are now seven installations, she peels back the crumbling layers and facades of abandoned buildings to expose their foundations, creating life-size dioramas from the debris. In Johannesburg Archive—in process, and shown below for the first time—the artist travels to South Africa’s “economic engine” to rework a former elementary school in the post-industrial New Doornfontein neighborhood, one of the city's poorest areas. In the process Teeuwen explores the pathos of a metropolis whose barely-concealed, oft-conflicted past provided more than a little inspiration.

Teeuwen's newest work, Johannesburg Archive

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How Weather Inspired My Creative Intervention for a Johannesburg Bus Stop

How one artist tried to create the visual effect of a ‘wet bus stop’ in Johannesburg by hanging straight stripes of white and blue barrier tape.

I was born in South Africa and I lived in the U.K. for several years, and in both places I couldn’t escape noticing the weather and its impact on my daily life. Since I returned home earlier this year, I’ve been amazed by how powerful a much-missed blue sky can be.

As an artist, I play with my immediate environment and question familiar things we often take for granted. Recently for a project, I had an idea: I wanted to create the visual effect of a "wet bus stop" in sunny Johannesburg by hanging straight stripes of white and blue barrier tape on the inside of a bus stop. To me, the tape looked like rain drops. So when installed, the bus stop—supposed to protect us from the elements—would look like it was raining from the inside.

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