A Black Hat and Nimbus collaborative public artwork with South African urban geographer and artist, Ismail Farouk in the suburb of Lederberg in Ghent, Belgium commissioned by Africalia and The City of Ghent. The artwork is an 11m typographic sculpture created using a modular block system.
Scroll down for a detailed description of the artwork and the process.
The suburb of Lederberg in Ghent is culturally diverse and has a large immigrant population from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Ismail Farouk wanted to create an intervention that would encourage more interaction between the cultural groups in Ledeberg, that tend to keep to themselves. Focussing on venues of consumption around the central square he found that most of them remain homogenous – the Belgium pubs are full of white people and the Turkish bars tend to have no women or people of other ethnic backgrounds. However, he found that food is a central element in human interaction in the area.
“Eet smakelijk!” – in Belgium this phase is used to wish someone an enjoyable meal (like bon appetit), often when you’ve purchased food the shopkeeper will say this as he or she gives your food to you.
The artwork is an 11m long three-dimensional typographic object with varied height spelling the Afrikaans word “smaaklik” which means tasty, to create an 11m long multifunctional space for eating, performing, holding workshops, socialising or simply sitting and waiting for the bus. It’s playful and interactive and invites curiosity as the word is slightly alien to both Flemish and people of other ethnicities, placing them on the same footing. The Afrikaans word also brings a South African touch to the artwork, without invoking obvious clichés like leopard print or Ndebele patterns.
Our initial design was not possible within the budget so we designed a modular typographic system using only 4 repeating shapes that could be easily cast in concrete, creating a durable, cost-effective structure. Although the final piece was cast in white, black and grey, we experimented with the possibility using colour or other materials for contrast.